Archive for August, 2007

Update – Green Cities in China update on

Posted in Models, Movements, Research, Visions by fedwards on August 31st, 2007

water drop

The article, “China Eco-Cities Update” by Mara Hvistendahl published on, August 22, investigates the progress on the development of eco-cities in China. This topic which has been very heavily publicised in previous reports now seems to be receiving criticism. Read the introduction to Hvistendahl’s article below and visit the full report at

“In 2005, green architect William McDonough and British engineering firm Arup separately announced plans to build ambitious eco-cities housing up to 500,000 inhabitants on the mainland. For a few months following these announcements, coverage was enthusiastic (we have written about these cities a number of times, with early articles here and here). Much of this coverage was deserved. Designers are, after all, devising solutions to what promises to be one of the largest rural-to-urban migrations in history.

But in recent months, journalists have begun to look at how these cities are shaping up. After publishing a glowing article on McDonough’s designs for sustainable Chinese cities in 2005, Newsweek ran an article this May that reads like a retraction. Its assessment of Huangbaiyu, the model village in McDonough’s program and the first in a series of seven planned eco-cities, is bleak:

The project appears to be a mess. Construction of the 400 houses is way behind schedule. The 42 that have been built still have no heat, electricity or running water. Walls are already cracking and moisture seeps through the ceilings. According to people who’ve worked on the project, many of the houses don’t adhere to the original specifications—meaning they could never achieve the energy savings they were meant to achieve. The biomass gasification facility meant to burn animal, human and agricultural waste, doesn’t work. Not surprisingly, no one in the village has volunteered to move into the new community.
Last month, Popular Science published a feature that casts similar doubts on the prospects for China’s eco-cities.”

Visit the full article at

Resource – Ecological Internet, Inc.

Posted in Models, Research by fedwards on August 30th, 2007

Ecological Internet, Inc. ( is a non-profit organization specializing in the use of the Internet to achieve conservation outcomes. As part of its mission it seeks:

* to empower the global movement for environmental sustainability by working to conserve climate, forest, ocean and water ecosystems
* to commence the age of ecological sustainability and restoration
* to provide forest/rainforest, climate, water, ocean and environment conservation websites–presented as a free service to the environmental community.

Ecological Internet maintains up-to-date climate, forests and environmentportals that serve more than 35,000 visitors a day. It enables its website users to quickly search the indexed content of five million URLs and retrieve the desired information.

Check out the site at

Model – Electric Vehicles in Nepal, Going Solar Newsletter

Posted in Models by fedwards on August 29th, 2007


By guest author, Suraj Neupane, Going Solar
Reproduced from Transport Newsletter #27,

Electric Vehicles in Nepal
Following items on Took-Tooks in Sri Lanka [#23 & #24], and the wish for electric versions, one of our engineers, Suraj Neupane, prepared this article:
Commercially viable electric three-wheelers were introduced in Nepal in 1996 after the successful operation of seven such vehicles for six months in 1993. Currently, more than 600 electrical threewheelers run on the streets of Kathmandu catering for more than 120,000 commuters each day.

There is a million dollar private investment in this sector and the vehicles are owned by more than 100 entrepreneurs. There are plans to introduce electric four-wheelers as well, and test operations are being conducted on three different fourwheelers. A typical three-wheeler costs around A$12,750 while the costs for four-wheelers which are currently being tested vary from A$20,000 to A$27,300.

The running cost of such vehicles is comparatively low at around 18c per kilometre and these vehicles are capable of running up to 100 km a day. Battery charging stations can be found in different locations in Kathmandu. There are many visible benefits of these electric vehicles (EV) including: zero pollution (no PM10 emission); less GHG emission (as they utilize hydro-power for charging); local value addition (local assembly and fuel i.e. electricity); no petroleum requirement (saving in foreign currency); generation of local employment and health benefits. Another important aspect of the EV industry is that it has been employing many female drivers!

Nepal imports petroleum products from India, but the daily import quota of petroleum products to Nepal was curtailed by India recently creating a huge gap in demand and supply. This has lead to long queues of vehicles requiring petrol at stations in Kathmandu. This in turn has increased the demand for EVs and has provided food for thought to the Nepalese government to further develop this sector. EV entrepreneurs are looking forward to expanding use of these vehicles in schools, offices, tourist services and private uses. They are planning to introduce these vehicles in other major cities of Nepal too. However, lot still needs to be done to develop this sector as EV are not considered as a mainstream transport sector.

Action – Online consultation for “Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights”

Posted in Movements, Research, Visions by fedwards on August 28th, 2007

See correspondence below distributed by the United Nations Non Governmental Liaison Service.

As announced in late July, NGLS is launching an online consultation on the Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. These Principles were produced by an expert working group under the former UN Sub Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (SCHR) in Geneva and released on 11 September 2006. In response to Human Rights Council
Resolution 2/2 “Human Rights and Extreme Poverty”, adopted at its second session on 27 November 2006, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is conducting a consultation with all stakeholders to get feedback on the draft principles.

In order to facilitate the response of civil society to this consultation, NGLS in collaboration with OHCHR and NGO partners is conducting an online consultation that will run from 20 August to 20 September, 2007.

To participate in the consultation click on the following link, follow the instructions and answer the questions online. The questionnaire consists of four short questions that focus on the Draft Guiding Principles and which give you an opportunity to provide your views on how the document and its implementation could be strengthened. Following the conclusion of the consultation a report will be prepared and submitted to the OHCHR and disseminated to relevant stakeholders.

Link to the online consultation:
Read the rest of this entry »

Event – 12th International Metropolis Conference, 8-12 October

Posted in Events by fedwards on August 27th, 2007


12th International Metropolis Conference – Migration, Social Cohesion and Economic Growth
8-12 October 2007
Melbourne, Australia

* Conference conveniently follows Immigrants as Citizens
* Preliminary program now available
* Register before 27 August 2007 to receive a reduced rate.

The 12th International Metropolis Conference will examine research, policy and practice in the areas of migration, diversity, social cohesion, and associated economic impacts. It will include 12 exciting plenary sessions, 80+ workshops and an engaging set of study tours. Given that this is the first International Metropolis Conference to be held in the Southern Hemisphere, special attention will be paid to the Asia-Pacific region.

To register or to view the preliminary conference program, please visit

Event – International Workshop on Cities, Science and Sustainability, Trieste, Italy, 20-22 September

Posted in Events, Models, Research by fedwards on August 24th, 2007

CWY - CEEDD, Thiès, Sénégal

Institutions and individuals from developing countries are invited to take part in a UN-sponsored international workshop examining successful approaches that address issues related to cities, science and sustainability. The workshop is planned for 20 to 22 September 2007 and will be held in Trieste, Italy.

The aim is to highlight initiatives where the application of science, technology, innovation, knowledge and/or research has made a positive difference to sustainable development in large urban areas in the developing world; and also to connect the knowledge community with those involved in city planning and administration. The initiatives could include (but will not be limited to): access to safe drinking water, sanitation, reducing air pollution, improving housing and construction, reducing crime, improving energy, access to healthcare, land use planning, transport, greening urban spaces, creating jobs in sustainable-development, waste disposal, etc.

The case studies can also include initiatives that were not successful in reaching their goals – in part so that the lessons learned can be conveyed to a wider audience. City-wide environmental or sustainable-development master-plans will also be considered.

For more information visit:

Resource – New modelling tool to design sustainable cities

Posted in Models, Research by fedwards on August 23rd, 2007

This post is based on the article by Belle Dumé from the Environmental Research Web, 15 August, 2007.

“SUNtool” is a new program that simulates the energy efficiency of an urban development by modeling how city-dwellers use water resources and produce refuse and other waste. The way “SUNtool” or the “sustainable urban neighbourhood modelling tool” works is first by defining where the city is, then by sketching the layouts of buildings in the city and defining what the sites will be used for – for example, residential or commercial use. The tool then either assigns default characteristics to this usage or the user can be more specific, with the final detail of how energy is supplied to the building and also how water is managed, ie. harvested or recycled. By simulating this design, the amount of waste and energy flows can be calculated.

This new program is particularly useful for city planners as our world grows increasingly urbanised and as climate change becomes more apparent. More information on the model is available at and a public version of the tool will shortly be available for free download. The researchers published their work in Solar Energy.

For the full article visit:

Model – more large-scale solar farms – now in Africa!

Posted in Models, Movements by fedwards on August 22nd, 2007

Reported in The Ecologist, 15/08/2008, Algeria has begun work on the first of four industrial-scale hybrid gas and solar plants in a bid to switch from oil production to solar power. Their aim is to produce 6% of the country’s energy from renewable electricity by 2015. The first project, which will combine gas and steam turbines with solar thermal input, is located 260 miles away from Algiers at Hassi R’Mel, and will generate 25 MW from solar thermal alone.

This large-scale production of renewable energy sources is becoming a trend around the world, with similar projects in the USA and Spain (search this website for other stories). However, this Algerian example is one of the first major moves towards renewables by an oil exporting country. Algeria is heavily dependent on oil and gas exports, which earned it about $54 billion last year. For the complete story, visit The Ecologist website.

Model & Review – New Book on School Food Gardens Published

Posted in Models, Movements, Visions by fedwards on August 21st, 2007

Pumpkin Plans

New Book – “Seed To Seed: Food Gardens in Schools”, by Jude Fanton and Jo Immig, Seed Savers 2007

Do you think children’s eating habits are deteriorating? That there is a crisis in health due to poor diet? That the general level of gardening skills is degenerating?

To address these problems there is a growing movement to establish food gardens in schools. To service that interest, Seed Savers has just published a ninety page book, “Seed to Seed Food Gardens in Schools“.

The book is written by Jude Fanton, co-founder of Seed Savers, and Jo Immig, an environmental scientist and co-ordinator of the National Toxics Network who has written several books including the “The Toxic Playground” and “Safer Solutions” which detail how to avoid of hazardous chemicals and better safeguard children’s health from environmental pollution.

The production of the book was supported by the Mercy Foundation in Sydney and grew out of the establishment of a food garden at Byron Bay Public School. Photos of that process illustrate the book, long with amusing black and white drawings throughout.

Chapters include planning the garden, planting, maintaining, harvesting and saving seeds. It is written in a clear and informative style with many ideas for lessons and activities. Resources listed include books, organisations and websites that cover a wide range of aspects of gardening.
Extract from the Introduction:
Gardening can be a magical experience for children. They love to help out and delight at ripening berries, blooming sunflowers, and gathering up lemons for lemonade. Most adults can recall happy times spent in the garden when young, learning how to plant seeds and stake tomatoes, an experience often shared with our parents and grand parents. Many of us remember the exquisite taste of homegrown food, in contrast to the bland taste of many supermarket fruits and vegetables today. Unfortunately, with the trend towards shrinking backyards and increasingly busy lives, domestic food gardens have become a thing of the past. The opportunity to pass on important gardening skills from generation to generation and to share in the joys of homegrown food is being lost.
Read the rest of this entry »

Model – Sao Paulo, Brazil: An advert-free city

Posted in Models, Visions by fedwards on August 20th, 2007

São Paulo

Reported in the recent “Carbon Neutral Culture” edition of Adbusters magazine, is the story of Sao Paulo in Brazil who has introduced the “Clean City Law” which bans outdoor advertising. From the article, Mayor Kassab explains:

“The Clean City Law came from a necessity to combat pollution . . . pollution of water, sound, air, and the visual. We decided that we should start combating pollution with the most conspicuous sector – visual pollution.”

For more information and to access the article titled, “São Paulo: A City Without Ads”, from Adbusters #73, Aug-Sep 2007, click here.