March 31 – Urban Design and Preservation Division – Enabling Access to Public Spaces to Advance Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits: and the UN’s New Urban Agenda – Speaker: Patricia O’Donnell, FASLA, AICP
Culture, tradition, sustainability and many aspects of contemporary quality of life are intertwined in uplifting old, shaping new, and bringing increased resilience to inclusive public spaces. An integration of approaches to inclusive public spaces is required as social, environmental, spatial and economic dimensions of equity are entangled. A driving force in global development, increased urbanization targets many cities for continued rapid growth, challenging the need to secure inclusive public space. The UN Sustainability Design Guidelines relate to this reality. With the burgeoning growth of population, it is critical to: recognize and broadly articulate the values of public space for quality of urban living; encourage local advocacy for public space quality, quantity, care and use; safeguard and improve existing urban public space; integrate green best practices; and plan for and create new open spaces, particularly in low-income areas. The application of good governance recognizes and acts on the linkage between public spaces and sustainable development, respects the legacy of public spaces, seeks to improve existing space, adds new vibrant public spaces and benchmarks local public space quantity, quality, distribution and access, so that inclusive public space is available to all. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, focused on ‘inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities’ (United Nations, 2015), provides a core target for inclusive public spaces and many other aspects of human settlements. Urban public spaces address all three pillars of sustainability: economy, environment and society.