Regional strategies make small places bigger, Habitat II forum notes

November 24, 2015


As yet, however, many of those urban areas — at least in the United States — are not thinking much about sustainability. Some 42 percent of U. S. cities have no goal, no plan, not even a task force looking at challenges of sustainability, according to ICMA findings.

However, those that are looking at this issue are discovering that they need partners, said Johnston, who led a session about the opportunities of small cities banding together to take a regional approach to tackling common concerns. They’re finding that regional strategies are indispensable to making progress on complex issues such as sustainability.

Johnston likes to cite a regional epiphany that took place in southeast Florida in recent years. The city of Miami may be prominent on the list of cities that could be inundated by rising sea levels related to climate change, but in fact the response has been much broader.

Three years ago, all of southeast Florida — with some 5.6 million people in more than 100 cities — embraced a joint action plan for dealing with the threats of climate change. The four counties that formed the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact now track sea-level rise projections reductions in carbon emissions in the major categories. They also provide technical assistance to local communities both to mitigate the causes of climate change and to adapt to what’s coming.

Southeast Florida, for decades a dominant destination for people from other countries, mostly from Latin America, has long struggled for a sense of broader community. Today, climate change looks like a ready catalyst to make a regional approach something realistic, even necessary.