Publications round-up: sustainable cities, wellbeing, decoupling growth, slow travel
A round-up of recent sustainable development publications highlighted by our partner, the Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN). For more news on sustainable development research, join the network and receive regular SDRN mailings.
In this round-up:
- Our Cities Ourselves: 10 Principles for transport in urban life
- Great Outdoors: How our natural health service uses green space to improve wellbeing
- Cents and Sustainability: Securing Our Common Future by Decoupling Economic Growth from Environmental Pressures
- Slow travel and tourism
Read about more new publications in the latest SDRN bulletin…
Visionary urbanist Jan Gehl and Walter Hook, Executive Director of the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), have together set out ten principles for creating more sustainable cities in a new publication.
The report shows how cities from New York to Nairobi can meet the challenges of rapid population growth and climate change while improving their competitiveness. The publication’s purpose is to reframe the issue of transport so that it is no longer seen as separate from, but rather integral to, urban design.
Safe, green spaces may be as effective as prescription drugs for treating mild to moderate forms of depression and anxiety according to this new FPH report.
Whilst anti-depressants are generally most effective for the severely depressed, the report suggests that people with milder forms of depression generally improve with access to green space and open air. The report also shows that living and working close to green spaces and being able to enjoy them safely can reduce crime and increase productivity in the workplace. Furthermore, easy access to parks and natural areas is shown to decrease health inequalities.
The FPH report therefore calls for GPs to use more alternatives to medication for mental illness, including advice to spend time and exercise in green spaces. The report pulls together recent evidence that shows the impact of green space on health and makes a number of recommendations for GPs, local authorities, local strategic partnerships and research-funding bodies.
New Book – Cents and Sustainability: Securing Our Common Future by Decoupling Economic Growth from Environmental Pressures
Cents and Sustainability seeks to provide a clear-sighted response to the 1987 call by Dr Gro Brundtland in ‘Our Common Future’ to achieve a new era of economic growth that is ‘forceful and at the same time socially and environmentally sustainable’. The Brundtland Report argued that not only was it achievable, but that it was an urgent imperative in order to achieve a transition to sustainable development while significantly reducing poverty and driving ‘clean and green’ investment.
With some still arguing for the need to significantly slow economic growth in order to reduce pressures on the environment, this new book, ‘Cents and Sustainability’, argues that it is possible to reconcile the need for economic growth and environmental sustainability through a strategy to decouple economic growth from environmental pressures, combined with a renewed commitment to achieve significant environmental restoration and poverty reduction.
Beginning with a brief overview of some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time, the book then explains ‘decoupling theory’, overviews a number of factors that can undermine and even block efforts to decouple in both developed and developing countries, and then discusses a number of key considerations to assist the development of national ‘decoupling strategies’. The book then focuses on presenting evidence to support greater action, not just on climate change, but also on decoupling economic growth from the loss of biodiversity and the deterioration of natural systems, freshwater extraction, waste production, and air pollution.
It is widely recognized that travel and tourism can have a high environmental impact and make a major contribution to climate change. It is therefore vital that ways to reduce these impacts are developed and implemented. ‘Slow travel’ provides such a concept, drawing on ideas from the ‘slow food’ movement with a concern for locality, ecology and quality of life.
The aim of this book is to define slow travel and to discuss how some underlining values are likely to pervade new forms of sustainable development. It also aims to provide insights into the travel experience and to explore the concept of slow travel. It sets out its core ingredients, comparing it with related frameworks such as low-carbon tourism and sustainable tourism development. The authors explain slow travel as holiday travel where air and car transport is rejected in favour of more environmentally benign forms of overland transport, which generally take much longer and become incorporated as part of the holiday experience.
The book critically examines the key trends in tourism transport and recent climate change debates, setting out the main issues facing tourism planners. It reviews the potential for new consumption patterns, as well as current business models that facilitate hyper-mobility. Finally, the authors illustrate their approach through a series of case studies from around the world, featuring travel by train, bus, cycling and walking. Examples are drawn from Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.
Cases include the Eurostar train (as an alternative to air travel), walking in the Appalachian Trail (US), the Euro-Velo network of long-distance cycling routes, canoe tours on the Gudena River in Denmark, sea kayaking in British Columbia (Canada) and the Oz Bus Europe to Australia.
The Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN) is an initiative funded by both Defra and the Department for Transport, and is coordinated by the Policy Studies Institute in London.
SDRN aims to facilitate and strengthen the links between providers of research and policymakers across government, in order to improve evidence-based policymaking to deliver the UK government’s objectives for sustainable development.
SDRN Annual Conference 2010
This year’s SDRN Annual Conference will take place on 9th December 2010 at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, London. The Annual Conference is SDRN’s flagship event, bringing together over 150 sustainability practitioners, policy-makers and researchers and to share and discuss recent findings, and to review how research efforts can better contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals.
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