Monday, February 14, 2011

Is Little Rock a Sustainable City of the Future?

Does Little Rock have what it takes to be considered a “Sustainable City”?

Here, I think, are some broad principles that weigh on the answer:

  • A sustainable city has energy, water, transport, and waste infrastructure that is efficient and accessible, and that can be managed with minimal ecological impact.
  • A sustainable city is a city conceived, designed, and managed so that its resources are efficiently accessible to all.
  • A sustainable city uses research and outreach to make the use of sustainable practices and technologies a part of its mainstream culture.
  • A sustainable city uses incentives, particularly tax and land use incentives, to direct investment in sustainable development and technologies and to provide stakeholders and citizens with motivation to change their behavior.
  • A sustainable city has a municipal government that embraces and advocates for sustainability, and that is willing to invest monetary and political capital in people, programs, and technology in the move toward sustainability.
  • A sustainable city has a population wants to be sustainable, and that wants to make the changes needed to be sustainable.

I don’t propose any answers the question (although I think my previous posts make it clear that I think the city and that state are on the right track). But as we continue our journey through the law of the sustainasphere, it is prudent and necessary to keep this bigger picture in mind. The goal, after all, is not just a law or system of laws that embraces, furthers, or protects sustainability. The goal is to take monentary, technological, legal, and political capital and turn it into sustainable social capital. Or, more directly put, the goal is a sustainable city in a sustainable state.

(Department of Credit Where Credit is Due: this blawg post was inspired, in part, by “Sustainable Cities of the Future: The Behavior Change Driver,” an article by Peter Newman that appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of Sustainable Development Law & Policy, published by the Washington College of Law at American University.)


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