Your City Can Help Save the World

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Measured against history the change has come swiftly. After living in the countryside for thousands of years, humanity is in the midst of an epic move to the city. Co-host Edie Lush points out in this episode that as recently as 200 years ago little more than one person in ten lived in a city. Today, the UN estimates just over half of us live in cities. By 2050 that will be two thirds.

Population is growing and urbanizing at the same time, says Renata Rubian, Adviser on Inclusive Sustainable Growth at the United Nations Development Program. Which is why the Global Goals include a goal explicitly focused on creating Sustainable Cities, SDG # 11. 

Co-host Claudia Romo Edelman notes that other goals, like eradicating poverty or hunger, are easier to understand even if they are challenging to achieve. But given how much of the world will be living in cities we can not hope to achieve the global goals – from climate to equity, from good health to decent jobs and living standards – without creating sustainable cities.  

So what is a sustainable city and how do we create them, Edie Lush asks.

She seeks out two well-know experts on sustainability and urban design, William McDonough and Samir Bantal. McDonough, author and architect, explains his concept of cradle to cradle production, designing products so there components can be reused and there is in a perfect case no waste. This concept can apply not only to products but to cities, which can imitate the organic patterns of the natural world.

The architect Samir Bantal emphasizes the importance of countryside. Countryside, The Future is the name of a new exhibition he and his famous colleague, Rem Koolhaas, the architect and urban designer, have just opened at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. The exhibition calls it  “absurd” that most of the world’s people are being concentrated in a tiny corner of the planet’s space. “Cities only represent 2% of the Earth’s surface, which means that the other 98%, perhaps, is ignored,” Bantal says. “There’s a kind of single focus on urbanism and on cities while actually the countryside is perhaps, the most interesting area to investigate right now, not only as architects, but as humanity.”

Facts and Actions are presented by Stan Stalnaker, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Hub Culture, the social network which operates the digital currency Ven. He invited listeners to join Hub Culture’s Emerald City project, which is building a virtual city and generating revenue to sustain Amazon Rain Forests.

Music in this episode includes tracks from a new album ‘100% HER’ which is now live on the Universal Production Music website and Spotify. One of the artists – Kate Lloyd shares what it’s like to be featured on an album where every track was composed, mixed and mastered by women.

The sponsor of this episode is Brevet Capital Management, which identifies 100% responsible investment opportunities that do well and do good.

Featured guests

William McDonough

William McDonough is a globally recognized leader in sustainable design and development. He counsels leaders through McDonough Innovation, is an architect with William McDonough + Partners and advises through MBDC, the creators of the framework for Cradle to Cradle Certified™ products. He is active with the World Economic Forum and served as the inaugural chair of their Meta-Council on the Circular Economy. He co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002) and The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability: Designing for Abundance (2013). McDonough received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development (1996), the first U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2003), the National Design Award (2004) and the Fortune Award for Circular Economy Leadership (2017). He was recognized by Time magazine as a “Hero for the Planet,” noting: “His utopianism is grounded in a unified philosophy that—in demonstrable and practical ways—is changing the design of the world,” and in 2019 Fortune magazine named him one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders noting his role in advancing green architecture, the Circular Economy and the future of plastics.

Samir Bantal

Samir Bantal is the director of AMO, the think- tank founded by Rem Koolhaas in 1998, which enables OMA to apply its architectural thinking beyond architecture, to the fields of design, technology, media and art. Before joining OMA, Samir worked for Toyo Ito, and was associate professor at Delft Univeristy of Technology in the fields of architecture and urbanism. Between 2008-2012 he was editor of the Annual Architecture Yearbook of the Netherlands. Currently, Samir is responsible for the new retail concept for the luxury car brand Genesis in Seoul, Korea. Also with AMO, Samir is currently working on 3 exhibitions. In Qatar, AMO explores the role of modern architecture in the development of the city of Doha, opening March 2019. Together with the Harvard School of Design, Samir leads Countryside, a comprehensive research project that investigates the interaction between the city and the countryside, which will culminate in an exhibition in the Guggenheim in New York early 2020. Lastly, ‘Figures of Speech’ will show at the MCA Chicago in June 2019. The design of the exhibition, a retrospective on the work of renown designer Virgil Abloh, is a collaboration between Samir and Virgil Abloh.

Stan Stalnaker

Stan Stalnaker is a leader in the field of emerging technology and consciousness and leads Hub Culture, a technology ecosystem that at the forefront of the virtual state movement. Hub Culture began in 2002 as one of the first online social networks, and has always been at the forefront of change and new ideas. It was the first network to offer member coworking (Pavilions), virtual collaboration (Hubs), digital currency payments (Ven), own-your-own-data digital identity (HubID), liquid voting and governance (Propel), artificial intelligence (Zeke) and asset tokenization (Ultra) to over 50,000 digital citizens as part of the global Hub community. Stan started his career at Time Warner in marketing with Fortune Magazine and other TimeWarner integrated projects, then moved to focus on Hub Culture in 2007. Since then Hub Culture has produced over 50+ popup locations in cities around the world with over 70,000 hosted guests, introduced virtual reality environments, interviewed thousands of cultural and business leaders, and launched integrated financial services around Ven, including P2P payments, a digital asset exchange, investment funds and more. As part of Hub Culture’s Ecosystem, Stan advises portfolio companies with activities in blockchain, space, legal frameworks and digital content, and consults with governments and industry regulators on emerging technology best practices and frameworks to lay the foundations for Hub Culture’s eventual emergence as the first virtual state.

Renata Rubian

Renata Rubian lives in Sri Lanka, working as a Programme Analyst at the UNDP Asia Pacific Centre, developing the Regional Human Development Report series. Previously, she was a researcher at the Ecosystem and Livelihoods Group of the IUCN and at the UNEP – Convention on Biological Diversity. Her career with the UN system started at the UNDP in Brazil, intercalated by a year’s break to work for the Canadian Government in Ottawa. She holds a MA in Political Science from McGill University and a BA in International Relations from the University of Brasilia. She was a co-founder of the first UN Simulation Model in Brazil – the 1997 Americas Model UN.

Douglas Monticciolo

Douglas Monticciolo is Chief Executive Officer, Chief Investment Officer and Co-Founder of Brevet Capital Management. He is an entrepreneur and investment manager with deep data analytics and technology experience developed over three decades while providing credit financing and advisory services. Mr. Monticciolo founded Brevet Capital Management in 1998 and has established the firm as a leader in helping government agencies solve complex problems – and drive positive social impact – by creating innovative financing products and services. This “finance as a service” approach provides direct lending and other financing to private middle market companies that enable them to effectively serve the government sector as contractors – a low credit risk strategy with highly competitive barriers to entry. Mr. Monticciolo’s years of experience working in start-up environments as a software entrepreneur and within asset-backed securities, fixed income, and investment banking helped him identify a gap in the market where traditional lenders failed to provide the innovative financing and forward-looking advisory services needed for the private contractors government  contractors rely on to deliver services.

Kate Elizabeth Lloyd

Kate is a Composer of bespoke production music and an Electronic Music Producer under alias, Kloyd. Based in London, Kate is starting to gain recognition as a notable up and coming electronic producer, receiving numerous airplay features on BBC Introducing. Kate graduated with First Class Honours in Music Production at Leeds College of Music and was awarded a full scholarship to study a Masters in Music at the University of Leeds, gaining a Distinction and a certificate of commendation for outstanding achievement. She has since composed music for TopGear, John Lewis and McLaren.

Áine Tennyson

Áine Tennyson works as a Producer & Production Coordinator at Universal Production Music UK. Áine was recently at the helm of a rebrand for Focus Music, illustrating her creative flair and insight into the new look, feel and sound of the label.  After gaining her BMus in 2016 from University of Glasgow in Composition & Sonic Arts, Áine started her career as an intern at Universal Music Publishing. Whilst gaining a certificate in Music Production: Mixing and Mastering at Goldsmiths University in 2017, Áine continues her talents as a composer. Áine is a classically trained singer with a background in Irish Traditional folk music.

This episode was made possible through the kind support of:

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