- When it's just a house.
- When it's not even a house.
- When it's lonely.
- When it's unsafe.
- When it's cold.
- When it's cramped.
- When it's miserable.
- When you desperately want to be somewhere else.
- When you're terrified of going indoors and unworried sleep is a distant dream.
- When you're afraid to go outside.
- When there's nothing for miles, just more houses or flats or shacks.
- When there's a war on.
Many millions of people in the world live like this.
And that needs to change.
Providing Sustainable Cities and Communities for all would be a start, and it's one of 17 Global Goals that will be adopted by 193 world leaders at the United Nations on September 25th 2015.
The ambitious aim is to achieve the following in the next 15 years.
End extreme poverty.
Fight inequality & injustice.
Fix climate change.
This is my small contribution to that campaign:
Sustainable Cities and Communities
Building sustainable cities and communities is part of human geography, which has been an interest of mine since my school days. Obviously I am not an expert, and the complexities of the topic are too huge to cover in one small blog post, but there are some things that I think are worth mentioning, especially given the current homelessness crisis in Ireland.
But the housing crisis is just a small part of the picture. And as the Irish saying goes, you wouldn't start from here.
Because sustainable cities and communities should work for everyone, no matter what their needs or lifestyles. I don't believe that The Market or profit motive can fix everything that is wrong with cities and communities today. Even just on housing alone, there is always a time lag between demand and its fulfillment, and is there really any attraction for construction firms to build cheap, attractive, sustainable housing for all?
Surely it is the responsibility of Governments, Local Authorities or City Mayors to look at the bigger picture of developing sustainable cities and communities, and not just how much profit can be made from each parcel of land.
So many things needs to be considered. All developments should be life time proofed so they can cater for people from cradle to grave, so that there are creches, and primary schools and medical centres and playgrounds. Then youth clubs and sports grounds and arts centres and libraries and coding classes and cycle lanes and safe secure bike lock ups at public transport hubs. Car parking and cafes and gyms and running tracks and shops. Safe disabled-friendly supporting living complexes and golf courses and parks and hotels and police stations and places of worship. And plenty more facilities that I have forgotten.
Sustainable communities would also use solar and even wind power, and make cycling safe and provide disabled-friendly transport, and water, waste and rubbish recycling. Consultation is needed to make such communities work, not just imposition from on high. You'd need houses, bungalows, self-build plots, apartments, flats and halting sites. Both social and private housing, though how you mix them up is a whole issue in itself, but it needs to be solved. Design is important too: giving people joy in their homes and surroundings can only be good for their health and well-being.
All these things do not come for free, but they are not an expense, they are an investment. It's about valuing people, treating them well and reaping future benefits.
As the UN Global Goals Campaign says:
“It’s Time To Change The World.”
Why I wrote this
This post has been written in support of the Global Goals Campaign, to make the 17 UN Global Goals known in every city, village, hamlet and outpost around the world. If they are known about, they are more likely to be be supported, and if they're supported, they're more likely to be implemented.
What you can do
There is also a Facebook Group here for bloggers who want to get involved with this campaign.
Thank you for reading.