There is increasing awareness that cities are at the heart of our global response to climate change and sustainability challenges. Organisations as diverse as the European Commission, United Nations, World Economic Forum and Asian Development Bank have all recently indicated that cities and those that govern them are best placed to take local action to tackle and resolve environmental challenges, whilst ensuring a good quality of life for their citizens. Initiatives such as the 15 minute neighbourhood, green transport systems, automated processes and operations, and digital health and care are making an impact.
In contrast, less attention has been given to the role the city centre needs to have in making the city as whole more sustainable. The concentration of commercial and consumption activity, the agglomeration of buildings and streets, and the need for transportation makes the city centre a major contributor to our collective carbon footprint. But there are tensions in taking actions that reduce this footprint and maintaining the essential place-making elements identified by stakeholders - workspaces, retail, transport, culture & heritage, tourism, and the public realm.
In this section, we consider examine further these tensions, outlining some of the key issues and giving examples of how new knowledge and insights can help generate initiatives to balance sustainability and vibrancy.