A city roadmap for 2022

Following all the challenges and experiments cities have gone through over the last two years, the team at NewCities launched a survey to understand how their community of urban practitioners “perceived the greatest challenges ahead and how to prioritize action.” They focused more specifically on five areas of concern; housing, climate, wellbeing, mobility, and equity.” In this overview article, they present some of the results and conclusions. Unsurprisingly, one of the main insights of the survey is that all the challenges and potential solutions are interconnected.

[R]esponses indicate that focusing on climate, housing, and equity—or a holistic blend of the three—will be the most robust way for cities to redress the exacerbated inequities experienced during the pandemic and our best bet for building more vibrant, connected, and inclusive cities in the year to come. […]

The survey found that the vast majority of people in our network — 69% of respondents to be exact — agree that housing supply and affordability will be the most pressing challenge cities face in the coming year. Coming before environmental threats, public health, and aging infrastructure, among others.

The respondents’ number one challenge is housing supply and affordability, and the number one priority is integrating climate risk planning into new developments. The priority doesn’t necessarily relate to the challenge, as new developments don’t automatically address affordability, it’s often the opposite, but they can certainly fit together when properly planned.

The climate solutions to prioritize were “energy efficiency in the built environment, densifying and adaptive reuse, and nature-based solutions,” while the number one barrier to climate action is funding.

Reducing energy expenditure in the built environment presents a logical solution for cutting emissions, considering that energy use in buildings and construction account for one third of greenhouse gas emissions. […]

Density and mixed zoning means that more housing is built in proximity to daily services and transit corridors, reducing individual reliability on personal vehicles. As cities continue to grow in population size, managing space through increasing density, zoning, and gentle infill will become more and more important. […]

More and more people are recognizing the benefits of protecting and restoring natural systems for the essential ecosystem services that they provide. Experts now say that natural climate solutions can provide around 30% of the emission reductions required to achieve the 1.5 degree target.

Finally, according to the responses, the best way to promote equity is by connecting communities, and 3 out of 4 people think cities should focus on optimizing public transportation routes to connect underserved neighbourhoods.

I invite you to have a look at the full article for more detail, and quite a few links to resources where we can learn more about each point.