Kaid Benfield Archive


The city of the future

Kaid Benfield

Posted January 2, 2012 at 1:38PM

, , , , ,

  Singapore (by: Joan Campderros, creative commons license)

If you haven’t discovered TED yet, you’re in for a treat.  The acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and it is all about the sharing of ideas, first in conferences, and now especially on the internet, where you can find an abundance of 18-minute “TED talks” on everything from Afghanistan to ultrasound surgery to storytelling to gardening.  They recruit great thinkers and speakers to produce accessible intellectualism for the masses, including you and me.  It’s a pretty swell idea.

For the past several years the keepers of TED have awarded an annual prize to an exceptional individual who is invited to present “one wish to change the world” at the annual TED conference.  The wish is then supported by various kinds of networking services.  Past winners have included Sylvia Earle, Bill Clinton, Bono, E.O. Wilson, and Dave Eggers.

Always innovative, this year the organization broke from its new tradition by awarding the 2012 TED prize not to an individual but to an idea.  And that idea is the city of the future.  From the website:

“The 2012 TED Prize is awarded to….the City 2.0.

“The City 2.0 is the city of the future… a future in which more than ten billion people on planet Earth must somehow live sustainably.

Sydney (by: Alex E. Proimos, creative commons license)“The City 2.0 is not a sterile utopian dream, but a real-world upgrade tapping into humanity’s collective wisdom.

“The City 2.0 promotes innovation, education, culture, and economic opportunity.

“The City 2.0 reduces the carbon footprint of its occupants, facilitates smaller families, and eases the environmental pressure on the world’s rural areas.

“The City 2.0 is a place of beauty, wonder, excitement, inclusion, diversity, life.

“The City 2.0 is the city that works.”

Those are general concepts, to be sure, but the awarding of the prize marks several important developments, including the sense that how we live with each other – the physical structure in which we live – is increasingly important in a world of limited resources.  There is also recognition that our aspirations for our shared future are evolving, with a need to reduce our footprint on the earth while celebrating innovation, opportunity, beauty, and diversity.  Utopian?  A little, maybe, but no less important as we work to fill in the blanks.

This, of course, is also the sustainable communities agenda in a nutshell.  We place the cause among our highest priorities here at NRDC.  And it’s as good a note as any on which to begin the new year.

Move your cursor over the images for credit information.

 Please also visit NRDC’s Sustainable Communities Video Channel.