19 March 2005

19/03/05. The Kyoto World Cities Challenge: What sets this effort apart?

Editors note: As we push hard in our world wide outreach program to do what we can to make the Kyoto project better known and in the search for people, groups and cities with whom we might be able to work in order to advance the sustainability agenda and specifically in the areas that we have chose to bite off here, we often run into steely eyes that tell us or imply that our presence is not perhaps such a good idea. That others are working on it and that we would do better to put aside this particular effort and let them get on with the challenge in their own ways. These are tough massages, and like all challenges can serve as good reminders which we should be able to deal with here. The following short section has been compiled in an attempt to lay a basis for more collegial and cooperative discussions.

The Kyoto World Cities Challenge: What sets this effort apart?

This is a question which we are often asked, not least by people and groups with projects and programs of their own in one or more of the areas which we are trying to address here. They of course have their own ideas and priorities. All to the good in an area of technology and society that desperately requires many different effort and approaches.

There of course is a great deal that is going on in this broad area today. And if you require a reminder we can point you to our World Resource Inventory here which already identifies more than six hundred groups, projects and programs that are working on it, each in their own way, in their own target area, with their own time focus, with their own tools and goals. And resources to do the job.

Certainly no one thing is unique about the Kyoto World Cities Challenge, but perhaps the combination of a certain number of explicit goals and methods which together give this program a certain originality which permit it to be evaluate and judged as a useful effort worthy of your support and contributions.

Here are a handful of “defining factors” that in our view combine to make Kyoto Cities a possible winner and certainly different from the rest:

1. Extreme high focus: (a) CO2; (b) transport in cities; (c) very sharp targeted decreases (20%) in (d) a very short period of time (20 months)

2. Geographic coverage: World wide focus, but ready to work with one city at a time. The world wide reach provides the base for the powerful International Advisory Panel and its peer support network.

3. City action focus: This is above all a city decision, a city action. It does not depend on international treaties, other levels of government to foot the bill; it works within the city, its existing asset base, quality of leadership and degree of public support. In that city!

4. Explicit targeting: You either succeed or you fail with your targets. And all that firmly in the public eye.

5. Strong female leadership and participation. In large part motivated by dissatisfaction with traditional male dominance and the values that appear to go with it.

6. Car-like mobility: We do not see democratic pluralistic societies agreeing to accept large downgrading of their mobility arrangements. Which gives us our target: as good or better than they are getting our of their cars under present arrangements.

7. International peer support network: Personal engagement, high quality and great variety of the supporting International Advisory Panel. Members have both international role, and also available to “cluster” to support discussions and initiatives in their own city.

8. Eclectic and expansive sectoral coverage: Huge diversity of disciplines, backgrounds, geographies and competences, going way outside of the ‘normal’ transport or even environment groups enriches the perspectives, and the support network in each city and for the program overall.

9. Supporting context of intensive technology-based IP networking: The Communications Bridge

10. Comfort Zones: Many programs and almost all committees seek to achieve “Comfort Zones” in which all interests present of lurking in the background come to a general agreement as to priorities, what needs to be done, how to do it, etc. Kyoto Cities seeks quite the reverse: a large number of competing ideas and points of view, plenty of room for internal contradictions and conflicts, and a good and continuing dose of cognitive dissonance as a means for accommodating all this necessary variety.

* * *

The Kyoto World Cities Challenge is one program that cities can if they wish start to engage immediately. It is not the only thing that they or the rest of the world should be doing before the challenges of environment and costly dysfunctional transport arrangements that hinder almost all of them in their life quality and economic viability. But it may be one good place to start.


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04 October, 2005 09:07  

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