Join Prof. Damian Tang on a transformative journey towards circularity as he shares vital messages and insightful reflections, driving the pulse of our global movement every week.
6 November 2023
Dear esteemed participants of the Circular Cities Summit,
With less than 10 days remaining until the inauguration of our historic summit, I would like to address each of you and reflect on the significance of our upcoming gathering.
Today, we stand at a historic crossroads in our collective journey towards a more sustainable and resilient future. We have convened here not merely as representatives of nations but as global citizens bound by a common mission—to lead the way into an era of circular cities.
In our midst, we are honored to host ambassadors and foreign ministerial representatives from over 20 countries. The support of distinguished organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, McKinsey, and others adds a sense of gravitas to our shared endeavor.
As I gaze upon this remarkable assembly of visionaries and leaders, I am reminded of the tremendous power that unity, collaboration, and innovation hold. It is a true privilege to address you all as we mark the birth of the inaugural Circular Cities Summit—an event that signifies a pivotal moment in our shared history.
In the coming days, we are on the verge of witnessing a landmark occasion—a momentous stride toward the realization of our vision. The International Federation of Landscape Architects, the International Society of City and Regional Planners, the International Union of Architects, and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations will soon unite to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. This document transcends mere ink on paper; it is a testament to our unwavering commitment to forge a global partnership dedicated to advancing the cause of circular cities. It also signifies the birth of the Circular Cities Network, a platform that will serve as a lighthouse of knowledge, interaction, and progress.
The urgency of our mission cannot be overstated. The United Nations has emphasized the necessity of achieving their Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and the ambitious objectives set for 2050. By these deadlines, we must significantly curtail our carbon footprint, minimize waste, and safeguard the ecosystems that underpin life as we know it.
The climate crisis we face serves as a stark reminder of the intricate interconnections that bind our world. It respects no borders and spares no nation. It is a clarion call to ensure the survival of humanity and all living beings on this planet.
Yet, our purpose here goes beyond mere rhetoric—we are here to take action. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding is not just a declaration of intent; it is a solemn promise to our fellow citizens, our planet, and the generations that will follow us. This MOU will also mark the inception of the Circular Cities Network, a platform that will unite professionals and enable them to work collectively toward our common goals.
Today, let us aspire to make history not with the quill but with the tangible transformation we will effect in our cities, our communities, and our lives. Let us construct cities that exemplify circularity, sustainability, and the extraordinary potential of international cooperation.
I extend my profound appreciation for your dedication, your wisdom, and your unwavering commitment to this noble cause. Together, we will metamorphose our cities into beacons of hope for a brighter and more sustainable world.
With gratitude and anticipation,
Organising Chair, Circular Cities Summit
13 October 2023
Redefining Urban Futures:
Circular Cities and the UN's Vision – Challenges and Insights
As the pace of urbanization accelerates, our cities face an unprecedented challenge: how to evolve into circular, sustainable urban hubs that harmonize with the United Nations' ambitious vision for a better future.
In this message, I delve into the pivotal questions and complex challenges that demand the attention of thought leaders in the built environment and construction industry.
Resource Revolution: Beyond the Building Blocks
At the heart of this transformation is the reimagination of resource management. How can we shift from a linear, resource-hungry construction model to a circular one that optimizes materials, water, and energy throughout the entire lifespan of our urban creations?
Waste Not, Want Not
The issue of waste looms large. Circular cities necessitate a paradigm shift in how we perceive construction and demolition waste. Can we usher in an era where recycling and material reuse become the rule rather than the exception?
Designing Tomorrow's Cities
Urban planning and design stand as linchpins in this endeavor. How can we design cities that are not only sustainable but also promote walkability, mixed land-use, and the curtailment of transportation needs?
Transportation, a perennial urban challenge, calls for innovation. What transport solutions can we deploy to slash emissions and ease congestion, from bolstering public transit to embracing electric mobility?
Building for a Sustainable Future
The green building movement gains newfound importance. How can we incentivize and standardize green building practices that champion energy efficiency and sustainability?
Crucially, we must ensure that circular city initiatives are equitable and inclusive. How can we prevent sustainability from becoming a privilege of the few and tackle potential disparities head-on?
A critical linchpin is policy reform. What legislative changes are essential to underpin circular city development, from zoning and taxation to building codes?
Engaging communities actively in decision-making becomes paramount. How do we empower citizens to shape their urban futures, ensuring their voices are heard and their needs met?
Cutting-edge technologies beckon. What role do smart infrastructure and the Internet of Things (IoT) play in optimizing resource use and propelling circular city evolution?
The Education Imperative
To bring this vision to life, education and awareness are non-negotiable. How do we enlighten citizens, builders, and policymakers about the promise and challenges of circular cities, fostering a culture of sustainability?
Economic models must shift as well. How can we guide a just transition that supports those reliant on linear practices in construction and related fields?
A Global Symphony
Lastly, global collaboration holds the key. How can cities worldwide unite to share wisdom, research, and technologies, advancing the UN's Sustainable Development Goals together?
In our quest for circular cities, collaboration, innovation, and holistic thinking are our greatest allies. Thought leaders and professionals across disciplines must seize this moment to usher in a new era of urbanization that doesn't merely sustain but thrives. It's time to build cities that are not just communities of the present, but legacies for future generations—a vision that aligns seamlessly with the UN's call for a brighter, sustainable tomorrow.
As we embark on this transformative journey toward circular cities that echo the UN's vision for a sustainable future, I implore thought leaders and professionals in the built environment and construction industry to join hands. Let us collectively tackle the hard questions, surmount the challenges, and weave a brighter urban tapestry.
I eagerly await these discussions and insights at the summit. Together, we'll reshape our cities into beacons of sustainability, and in doing so, leave a legacy of hope, resilience, and progress for generations to come.
With unwavering optimism,
Organising Chair, Circular Cities Summit
6 October 2023
Why is it crucial for planners, architects, engineers, and landscape architects to spearhead the discourse on the circular economy and circular cities?
In the intricate tapestry of urban development, these professionals hold the threads that can weave sustainability into the very fabric of our cities. Their multidisciplinary expertise equips them with a unique vantage point, where they can holistically envision and execute designs that harmonize with the environment. With cities consuming over 75% of global resources and emitting nearly 70% of greenhouse gases, the imperative for change is undeniable.
Facts illuminate the profound impact of their leadership:
Resource Management: Planners and architects influence land use and resource allocation, steering the course towards responsible consumption and regeneration. A study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation revealed that circular practices in the built environment could save 38% of global carbon emissions by 2050.
Waste Reduction: Engineers contribute by designing structures and systems that optimize resource usage and minimize waste. The construction sector alone generates 30% of the world's waste, demonstrating the dire need for innovation.
Biodiversity and Natural Aesthetics: Landscape architects enrich urban spaces with green infrastructure, fostering biodiversity and mitigating urban heat islands. According to the World Health Organization, access to green spaces can improve mental health and overall well-being, shaping cities into healthier, more livable environments.
Economic Advantages: Circular cities create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Research by McKinsey indicates that the circular economy could generate $4.5 trillion of economic output by 2030.
Community Engagement: Planners and architects empower communities by involving them in the design process. Circular principles can enhance local resilience, create social cohesion, and address environmental justice concerns.
While policies and business models play a pivotal role, sustainable urban transformation requires a symphony of expertise. These professionals are the conductors, orchestrating harmonious collaboration between industries, governments, and citizens to compose cities that flourish in a circular rhythm. It is time for them to rise as leaders, embedding circularity into the very blueprint of our urban landscapes.
Shaping a sustainable future,
Organising Chair, Circular Cities Summit