The future of the city must be built on three basic pillars: identity, cohesion and sustainability. Is it possible to build more humane cities?
More than half of humanity now lives in cities. Now that we’ve passed this key milestone in the global process that is turning the rural population into an urban one, it’s a good time to stop and think on the possibilities for life and coexistence in the major population centres.
Talking about humane cities or cities with dignity puts us in the territory of the basic needs that must be guaranteed to the city’s inhabitants. It’s important to put people and groups centre-stage when working to achieve this goal.
When we speak of education, we are not only referring to teaching, but also to ways of living and of living together, to how time is spent, how newcomers are received, how noise is controlled, and so on.
Faced with a sense of unease at how globalisation is scraping away at the nation state, many people (even politicians from opposite ends of the spectrum) are once again looking to the city as a last hope for creativity, solidarity and identity-building.
Technological and administrative innovation can help to solve cities’ problems, but it’s not enough. We need to ensure that they are guided by innovation in values and social goals: not for private gain but for our collective welfare.
The competitive cycle in which thousands of cities around the world are immersed, consuming resources as though they were limitless, is unsustainable and goes beyond the ability of certain key variables in our ecosystems to guarantee the survival of the planet.