News Archive

posted 11/17/03

Urban Sustainability Gets a Boost at CUBES Conference

Shown above, left is His Worship, Mayor Kleist Sykes of Dar es Salaam, who presented and co-authored a case study on Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. At right isJoseph Mokhoele, Acting Regional Environmental Health Practitioner, Khayelitsha Environmental Health Office, City of Cape Town Health Department, who was a panelist on the Human Health and Urban Environmentst panel, and co-author of the Capetown case study.

Public policy for environmental conservation can be constructed explicitly to alleviate poverty, according to presenters from the CUBES-Capetown Urban Biosphere Group at the recent conference Urban Biosphere and Society: Partnership of Cities. The October 29-30 conference was sponsored by the Columbia-UNESCO Joint Program on Biosphere and Society (CUBES), in partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences and UN-Habitat.

Proceedings of the conference will be published in the New York Academy of Science’s Annals, which is received by the organization’s 23,000 members.

The UNESCO biosphere reserve concept’s applicability to pressing urban issues such as poverty, health, pollution, waste management, and social inclusion was apparent at the conference, both in the case studies and in working groups, according to CUBES director Christine Alfsen-Norodom. It was clear that the connectivity of the biosphere reserve concept was a particularly attractive feature. With its emphasis on protection of vulnerable spots and promotion of sustainable uses of natural resources, the biosphere reserve concept has proved an effective tool for planners and scientists alike.

The conference has strengthened ties among a global network of urban partners supporting locally generated strategies for urban environmental governance. A number of cities are now developing regional planning strategies to address long term sustainability in terms of access for city dwellers to natural resources such as energy, water, food, as well as health and other factors affected by the urban environment.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is among the world’s leading academic centers for the integrated study of Earth, its environment, and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines—earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences—and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world’s poor.