Your City Can Help Save the World

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.

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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:

Special thank you to:


Walt Disney (00:00): I don’t believe there’s a challenge anywhere in the world that’s more important to people everywhere and finding solutions to the problems of our cities, but where do we begin? How do we start answering this great challenge?

William McDonough (00:15): A city is a congestion of the animals whose biological history is enclosed within boundaries and yet every conscious and rational act on the part of these creatures helps to shape the city’s eventual character. It is both a natural object and a thing to be cultivated. Individual and group. Something lived, and something dreamed.

William McDonough (00:41): As I think the city of the future is like that. We should look at our own poop as a resource.

Renata Rubian (00:47): It’s two trends that’s affecting the entire planet. One is obviously the rapid increase in demographics, population growth, and the other one is the rapid urbanisation.

Samir Bantal (00:58): In order actually to live in cities, what we haven’t seen or what we haven’t been able to recognise is that the countryside needs to be structured and organised on a scale that we’ve never seen before.

Claudia Romo Edelman (01:20): Welcome to the Global Goalscast.

Edie Lush (01:21): The podcast that explores how we can change the world.

Claudia Romo Edelman (01:24): This episode, are cities our path to a sustainable world?

Edie Lush (01:29): Claudia, that’s one of the biggest questions about the Global Goals and the future of the planet. So I want to tell you about my quest!

Claudia Romo Edelman (01:36): Oh, your quest, like Don Quixote – el hombre de la mancha.

Edie Lush (01:42): Instead of tilting at windmills, I decided to explore Global Goal 11 which is, you know, is sustainable cities. But what is a sustainable city? How do we create them? That’s what I wanted to understand.

Claudia Romo Edelman (01:53): With so many of us moving to cities, is there really any difference between sustainable cities and a sustainable world?

Edie Lush (02:03): You know what, Claudia, you are very clever. You should have a podcast, but we have this podcast. And that’s the question we’re going to look at, right after we thank the people who make this a sustainable podcast.

Claudia Romo Edelman (02:20): This episode of Global Goalscast is brought to you by Brevet Capital management.

Doug Monticciolo (02:26): Brevet believes that every investment should be 100% responsible. So when we look at an opportunity, our first questions are, is there a lasting solution to a problem, and does it make your community smarter?

Edie Lush (02:39): Later in this episode, you’ll hear how Brevet capital management turned an abandoned sawmill into a clean power plant that recycled waste. Thank you to CBS News Digital and Universal Production Music.

Claudia Romo Edelman (02:52): Welcome back. I’m Claudia Romo Edelman.

Edie Lush (02:58): And I am Edie Lush. Claudia, have you and your kids ever been to Disney World? Because that is where I want to start this episode.

Claudia Romo Edelman (03:08): Okay. Even for you, this is weird. I thought we were talking about sustainable cities and now you’re coming up with theme parks.

Edie Lush (03:17): We are, but first, listen to this.

Walt Disney (03:20): We call it EPCOT. Spelled E P. C. O. T. Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. I don’t believe there’s a challenge anywhere in the world that’s more important to people everywhere, and finding solutions to the problems of our cities. But where do we begin? How do we start answering this great challenge?

Claudia Romo Edelman (03:54): Was that who I think it was Edie?

Edie Lush (03:56): Yes. That was Walt Disney himself in 1966, describing his plans for the city of the future. The city of tomorrow. Walt Disney was one of those people who believed cities of the future were an exciting opportunity to create better living for all of us. And of course, there are others who warn that the city of the future would distill everything that is wrong with humanity and dystopia.

Claudia Romo Edelman (04:22): Like in Blade Runner.

Edie Lush (04:25): I love Blade Runner. Or the sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson’s written about New York 2140, where the city is drowned by climate change, by the poles melting. I think actually Claudia your new apartment would be underwater.

Claudia Romo Edelman (04:41): Oh God. Well, I’m glad 2140 still ways off.

Edie Lush (04:45): Right? But here is what is not far away. The UN says that by 2050, two thirds of us will be living in cities and that’s new. It was only in 2007 by the UN’s count that more people lived in cities than in rural areas. And if you go back 150 or 200 years, almost no one lived in cities, maybe one person in 10.

Claudia Romo Edelman (05:06): So Walt Disney had it right? This is a challenge for everyone, everywhere. And it is different from eradicating poverty or giving everyone access to educational healthcare. Those Global Goals may be hard to achieve, but they are easy to understand.

Edie Lush (05:22): Which is why I asked an expert to explain what the goal of sustainable cities meant.

Renata Rubian (05:30): This goal is focusing making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. So there are a lot of targets to be met by 2030, and one of the key targets is really the idea; How do we ensure that will be universal access, because it’s for all, for everybody. Access to adequate safe and affordable housing and basic services like access to education, access to health, access to water and sanitation and an important component is the upgrading of the slums by 2030.

Edie Lush (06:06): This is Renata Rubian.

Renata Rubian (06:08): I work with the UN development program as a policy advisor on sustainable inclusive growth based in New York City.

Edie Lush (06:16): It’s true that each of the goals Renata mentioned in explaining a sustainable city is also one of the 17 individual global goals, but she told me that focusing on achieving this in cities is vital because cities are becoming so important, so quickly.

Renata Rubian (06:32): It’s two trends that’s affecting the entire planet. One is the rapid increase in demographics, population growth, and the other one is the rapid urbanisation. So with rapid urbanisation, what we see is cities growing and expanding much more rapidly. That has been in past years. And with this rapid expansion, the tendency that these informal settlements or slum areas grow a much higher. And we see that in a lot of places in the world, like Nigerian Lagos, in Bangladesh, in Dhaka. So improving those conditions, it’s very important to focus.

Edie Lush (07:10): I think that’s really interesting what you just mentioned there. It’s the speed of urbanisation rather than the size or the density of a city.

Renata Rubian (07:22): That’s correct. So there are two things. One is obviously this rapid speed of urbanisation and the inability of local governments and societies to keep up and to be able to respond to those needs, to those challenges and the demand. And the second thing is actually the creation of new cities. Because when we look at today evidence and data, what we see is that smaller cities will grow much faster. In reality, we see the large cities will perhaps stabilise at some point. We see the trends that for instance, you may actually reduce its size. So it’s not a uniform process everywhere, because cities are a place where people go because of prospects of living. Right? So incentives. But we do see a tendency of new cities also to emerge in many places in the world. So these new cities and how they will evolve, it will be something very important to observe, to guide, to provide the adequate information, knowledge, experience that have been tried elsewhere and that’s adequate. So that context.

Claudia Romo Edelman (08:31): Many people come to cities to escape rural poverty. You might remember eating my friend from UNICEF, David Anthony, Who did this report about 2030 Africa would look like the youth of the world where we are going to have in one continent, 1 billion new people because people moving to see this and creating not only first cities but second cities and then third cities, and that’s where you start looking at the concentration of people. And the question there is when you’re going to have a lot of young people in one continent like Africa concentrated in cities, you will have to start thinking about design of the cities in a very different way, and also start looking at the consequences for those rural areas about agriculture and who’s going to be producing the food that those cities are going to be consuming.

Edie Lush (09:19): So we need to design cities so that they can take in all of those people, while making their lives better. We have to think about cities organically. We need to design them,

Claudia Romo Edelman (09:29): like an architect designing a building, so that everything fits together and everything is used and reused. Some people call these a circular city, or a smart city. Architect William McDonough calls this cradle-to-cradle design thinking.

William McDonough (09:48): Well, if we look at the point of a city, it is in some respects focused on the idea of citizens because it’s meeting the needs, wants, and loves of the people who live there. So it’s a place for people. And if we start with that and then work our way out, we discover using cradle-to-cradle thinking for example, which would be eliminating the concept of waste as one tenant using renewable energy as powering system, having clean water and places for dignified creative lives. That’s the criteria for cradle-to-cradle. You realise the city built on that premise becomes quite delightful. I wouldn’t call it a smart city, I’d call it a wise city.

Edie Lush (10:42): And how does cradle-to-cradle fit into what you mean there about a wise city?

William McDonough (10:49): With cradle-to-cradle, we look at the world and say there’s biological systems that are powered by the sun and by income from the atmosphere, carbon. And so I think the city of the future is like that. We should look at our own, you know, poop as a resource. That’s where the phosphate is. That’s where there’s carbon and there’s all these various nutrients which we require for nutrition, and we can actually return those to the soil instead of having to go to Morocco for phosphate for example. That’s where all of a sudden you see the city becoming connected to the world of nature and every scale and at every distance.

Edie Lush (11:25): So you’ve spoken about cities being less bad and doing more good. Talk me through what the difference is.

William McDonough (11:33): Humans have been using double negatives for a while now to say something positive. The problem is that if you say, I’m being less bad, so I’m making my city more efficient and carbon or water or something, but if you have the wrong system where you’re polluting the water and you say, I’m going to pollute it less, so pat me on the back and call me good. You can’t, because less is a numerical relationship. Good and bad are human values. So the real question becomes how can I be more good? See that way you look at it and go oh, I really want to turn my sewage into fertiliser that’s safe. Oh well then as you’re designing the city, you wouldn’t combine effluent from textile mills and factories that may be getting polluted to make sure it doesn’t release poisoned water. But on the other side, you want to make sure your water is clean enough to drink. So we’d like to look for more good at the same time as we look at less bad. So definitely be less bad. Certainly in the energy efficiency is less bad, but we might even find ourselves saying, wouldn’t it be wonderful to use hydrogen for thermal requirements instead of carbon based fuels? At this point in history, we know that CO2 in the atmosphere is a toxin. It’s the wrong material, wrong place, wrong dose, wrong duration. There’s nothing wrong with carbon or carbon dioxide. We make it every day. We make it every minute, but human produced carbon in excess of natural system’s ability to work with it in the atmosphere is a toxin. But the fun part is to make your buildings renewably powered. That’s what we tried to do. So we have buildings that produce more electricity from sun during the year than they require. Say, give it to the neighbours. These are energy positive buildings. So then the world’s getting better because we’re behaving like trees.

Edie Lush (13:34): When you’ve written about cities and spoken about them, you talk about replicating the operating system of the natural world. So you mentioned trees there. Can you talk me through the principles of, of how you look at this operating system of the natural world?

William McDonough (13:49): Natural world has exquisite complexity and interdependencies and diversity. So if we think about a city as an organism, in fact, there’s a great quote that I always was delighted by by Claude Levi Strauss.

Speaker 2 (14:10): A city is a congestion of animals whose biological history is enclosed within boundaries. And yet every conscious and rational act on the part of these creatures helps to shape the city’s eventual character, by his form as by the manner of its birth. The city has elements at once of biological procreation, organic evolution, and aesthetic creation. It is both a natural object and a thing to be cultivated. Individual and group. Something lived, and something dreamed.

William McDonough (14:54): So if you have a dynamic system, that’s what nature does and it’s really the more the merrier. So everything is adding to the benefit of the system. The waste of our system becomes the food of the next one, but it has to be optimised to be fabulous. And that means we start designing the products to become the next round of products.

Claudia Romo Edelman (15:20): Design is a big word here. You have to be intentional. Create city systems that act like nature.

William McDonough (15:28):

We designed all our office buildings to be convertible into housing at a drop of a hat. So if the markets change or this building wants to go on for another a hundred years, it could be converted to housing just like that. Those buildings are designed for reuse. And so that’s the circular economy. We can want to keep them. So that’s really the cradle-cradle message; Design safe and healthy for humans and ecosystems first, because the first job of business is do not kill your customers, you know? And then second is you know, design it for a circular economy and mature realisation. And then third is power with renewable energy. Fourth is make sure you have clean water, clean enough to drink. And fifth, make sure people have delightful, creative lives. They’re respected in the process. Social fairness. On the energy front, there will be no one answer. Just do that. There may be one answer here and one answer there. There may be a combination of answers, this for daytime this for night-time, so you don’t just say, I have one solution which is burn carbon 24/7 the rule of the first industrial revolution, once hydrocarbons were deployed was essentially if brute force doesn’t work, you’re not using enough of it. Whereas today we can be much more elegant and so buildings can be designed to heat and cool themselves in local conditions using ancient techniques as a baseline. It’s really fundamental wisdom and then you can add the SITECH wonders to tune them up anyway you want to, but there’s no reason we have to have that while we destroy the world. And so that leads to diversity. Like when we put the world’s largest green roof on Ford motor company factory, you could say it was for the birds and that would be true, but it also saved for $35 million in capital expense because we were using natural systems to purify water on the sites instead of large chemical plants and big pipes. That’s the equivalent of the 4% profit on an order for $900 million worth of cars.

Claudia Romo Edelman (17:45): When we come back, we will talk to an urban designer who says we cannot just think about cities. We need to reconsider the countryside too. But first, this.

Doug Monticciolo (17:59): Hi, I’m Doug Monticciolo, the CEO and cofounder of Brevet Capital Management. We provide financial solutions that brings investors and businesses together to address the needs of governments. Brevet believes that every investment should be 100% responsible. So when we look at an opportunity, our first questions are, is there a lasting solution to a problem? And does it make your community smarter? So every smart community has one thing, at least in common from what we can tell. And that is, it has abundant and sustainable jobs. It’s fascinating to listen to Will McDonough talk about creating smarter cities through circular principles because as investors, you know, it’s kind of what we do. Let me give you an example. We have a waste-to-energy project. You know, we invested in a business that took an abandoned saw mill. It was a town where everybody had been laid off and the community was a bit depressed. And so we took a sawmill and we turned it into a power plant. That power/energy plant that took unrecyclable waste and turn it into power also took that power and turned it into heat and it took that heat and turns it into cement. And that’s important because that cement actually took all the waste from the energy production and made it into better cement while doing it all and every clean and CO2 efficient way. So that’s a business that creates jobs, with stability, gives dignity to its employees and creates a future for the community. And it doesn’t rely on anything really complicated. This is not a fancy financial transaction. No, this is just simply a really good, highly reputable business model. So we believe in creating smarter cities and the jobs that fuel them is a responsible way to invest. At Brevet we’re combining tools, how do you take a sawmill, turn it into a power production plant, and education. How do you run that plant in the way you used to? Kind of think about the saw mill and here’s our capital as a catalyst to create the solutions that are sustainable.

Claudia Romo Edelman (20:29): Welcome back. Edie, you rushed into the studio fresh from a recording.

Edie Lush (20:32): Yes. I just got off the phone from a recording with Samir Bantal who runs a think tank within leading urban designer Rem Koolhaas OMA. So he has some fairly radical ideas and they’re all expressed in a new Guggenheim exhibit about the countryside. So AMO is one of the leading urban design companies, but when you walk through countryside, it feels like you’re waving a big red flag and saying, hang on. We have to think through this urbanisation thing again is that the message?

Samir Bantal (21:13): Cities only represent 2% of the Earth’s surface, which means that the other 98% perhaps is ignored. So there’s much more attention. There’s a almost 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 you know as humanity as a total for different reasons. And that’s what we try to show and what we tried to explain in the exhibition.

Edie Lush (21:47): when you walk in to Countryside, there’s a sign that most of the world’s people will live in 2% of the world’s land. And you describe it as absurd and I wonder why you use that word absurd.

Samir Bantal (22:00): If we look at the way our culture looks at our world, it often starts from a kind of urban perspective. And so you could say that in a way this 2% of the Earth’s surface dictates almost the role of the 98% and of course like it’s a, it’s a very charged statement to make. But what we say is that in order actually to live in cities, what we haven’t seen or what we haven’t been able to recognise is that the countryside needs to be structured and organised on a scale that we’ve never seen before.

Edie Lush (22:39): So I wonder, since cities are growing at an unsustainable rate, what are the changes needed in the way we think about living in an urban environment?

Samir Bantal (22:49): There is a price to pay for our life in the city and that price is often paid by the countryside. So whether it’s farming on a large scale, whether it’s a food production with HR energy harvesting, all of that happens mostly in the countryside in large areas for which we basically give up sometimes nature just to sustain our way of life in the city. And the effects of that, because it’s all remote, are not felt directly by people. And one of the things for example that we found was that in Reno, Nevada, the kind of digital life that we have and whether that’s on Facebook or through Google or whatever actually also has a physical representation. And this physical representation is large warehouse type of buildings scattered around in beautifully pristine landscape where still wild Mustangs are running around and grazing. But that is actually a physical representation of the internet. We called it the back office of the internet. We started to investigate what does this mean? Is there a way in this, how this has been incorporated into the landscape? Because teams to, kind of, urban planning without an urban planner involved, it seems as if it’s an architecture without architects involved. And it seems beautifully almost like designed interiors without an interior designer involved. So is this first of all a kind of realm that we as architects need to be aware of and should explore, but is it also a way for us to understand what the consequences are of our lives in the city? One change also would be to reconsider the countryside also as an area for progress and modernisation and forward thinking rather than that this is solely the role of the city. And so I think if we’re able to tell that story and to recalibrate almost the image of what the countryside is, then we might be able to have another option or another idea of how to plan and how to design our communities and therefore our planet.

Edie Lush (25:22): So I wonder what you’ve learned from your research that might offer some fresh thinking on the city of the future.

Samir Bantal (25:29): One of the things is the role of planning, and I think this is also what we’re showing in our exhibition in the 20th century and either through democratic or non-democratic regimes have always had a sense of let’s say, importance of the countryside. I think Europe is struggling with a kind of emptying hinterland. The countryside is emptying, it’s decreasing in terms of population and often we still see that planning is focused on making cities more viable, more diverse and more et cetera, et cetera. China, on the other hand, it has a kind of strategy into identifying let’s say five typologies of rural life, five typologies of villages, and tries to find a way in how these five typologies that are still to be found in the Chinese countryside have a kind of sustainable future. One example is that some villages are almost remodelled to become like open air fulfilment centres. So production is centralised and this is production not only farming but also like a furniture for example. And through a kind of training of farmers and local producers in remote areas by companies like Alibaba, people in remote areas are now connected to the internet and eCommerce and are able to sell their products even though they are very remote to people who live in the city. So this is a way that China, for example, tries to accommodate something like eCommerce or something like economical, viable future on an area that, for example, in Europe has almost been given up.

Edie Lush (27:21): So finally, there’s a quote in the promotion for the exhibition that we really liked. It says, the countryside is now the site where the most radical modern components of our civilisation are taking place. So I wonder what we learn from that as our cities face these challenges.

Samir Bantal (27:40): We’ve now reached the moment where the story of the city is, is mainly about comfort, security and safety. And so that anything that we do as to accommodate this, the smart city, which is a very interesting kind of connection between the market economy or the market thinking and a new Silicon Valley technology actually is not pushing any boundaries further. It’s again, trying to fulfill the idea of safety and comfort. As a result, cities are not very much progressing or developing. I mean the, the model of a city is now becoming a formula that is copied and repeated globally. So cities start to look like each other as they start to behave like each other because they all work according to that formula. So to what extent is there still space for a radical ideas or new forms of living, new forms of working, new forms of energy production? What we’re seeing is that actually these issues are taking place in the countryside and are taking place in a much faster and a much more radical spirit. And is there a future foreseeable where the city can actually learn from this more agile form of thinking?

Edie Lush (29:12): Samir Bantal and Rem Koolhaas are presenting ‘Countryside’ at the Guggenheim museum in New York through August. Claudia, I want you to go see that exhibit.

Claudia Romo Edelman (29:19): 1000%.

Edie Lush (29:23): Underneath everything is the question we began with; Our vision of the future. I asked Bill McDonough for his vision. And when you imagine the city of the future, what is it? Do you have a, a utopian, a dystopian vision or, or something else?

William McDonough (29:38): Designers are inherently optimistic by disposition, because we wake up in the morning intending to make the world better. So I guess utopian more than dystopian in terms of intention, but there’s also this kind of thing that is now referred to as sunny pessimism. Best described, I think by F Scott Fitzgerald in an article in Esquire, in I think 1953 where he said a sure sign of a high intelligence is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in one’s mind at the same time and not ceased to function. So in a way it’s like you can see that the entire situation is hopeless, but we still strive to make it not so

Claudia Romo Edelman (30:35): Well I think that that was amazing for me, Edie, in the 25 years working in global organisations, it was the cities that had the power at the very, very end.

Edie Lush (30:44): Tell me about that.

Claudia Romo Edelman (30:46): For example, working for the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, we had an agreement with certain government and they agreed on imposing certain policies and certain actions towards prevention of AIDS because the president can just go ahead and say this is what we’re going to do. But it is a mayor of a city that has the decision making power about like his own funding and his own money. So you might have a federal discussion and a national discussion, but unless the mayor is on board on it, the city wants to do that, a priority is not going to happen. The issue of course, is that while they have a lot of power, they never have their amount of budget because they don’t generate taxes on the road. At the end of the day Edie, in order to advance the global goals, we need to think of cities as key players that will take the decision and move that forward.

Edie Lush (31:36): And I think what’s so important is that rapid urbanisation that we have spoken about, depending on how you define urban, that’s about 4 billion people living in cities, three and a half billion living in rural areas. But demographers say that virtually all the population growth in the years ahead will be in cities. So by 2050 there’ll be 7 billion people living in cities and still about 3.5 billion living in rural areas.

Claudia Romo Edelman (32:05): Wow, that’s so massive. And we, we, I, I don’t think that we have started actually grappling with Asia, right.

Edie Lush (32:11): Part of it is slums, right? A third of all city dwellers live in slums, favelas, makeshift homes. In some places like India, it is getting better, but in other places conditions are still deteriorating.

Claudia Romo Edelman (32:22): And that’s where design matters, and I’ve seen a number of people using their architectural knowledge and thinking to try to meet with the SDGs, 11 and tried to see how you actually develop a place that can provide a dignified leaving at the same time making it echo and have less usage of energy and so on. I think that this is an exciting moment that we should follow it more carefully.

Edie Lush (32:47): What you’re saying there about designing, that’s part of planning and that’s the message all the way from Walt Disney at the start through to Samir, is that we can plan for it. We can think this through. Cities are what we make them.

Claudia Romo Edelman (32:59): Facts an actual city facts. This is the time in every one of our episodes, we give you the three facts that you can show off with your mother-in-law at dinner and we give you the action so that you can actually implement something good. So in this episode, Stan Stalnaker, a friend, a very dear friend and partner of the Global Goalscast and the founder of Hub Culture.

Stan Stalnaker (33:28): Hi, I’m Stan Stalnaker from Hub Culture. Thanks for having me today. I’m here with three facts and three actions related to SDG 11: sustainable cities. Fact one: according to UN environment, today over 700 million people live in an urban slum, which is almost one in three city dwellers, but economic dynamism is possible in these areas. I just returned from Rio de Janeiro where Vidigal, a famous favela, is transforming into a hotspot for Airbnb rentals. The digital economy is beginning to reach these areas. Fact two: rapid urbanisation is a new experience for humanity. In 1900 only about 16% of the world lived in cities. Today it is 55% and headed higher with over 4.13 billion people living in urban environments today. Fact three: virtualisation is an economic powerhouse for sustainable economic development in urban areas. By 2025 the global market for virtual goods is expected to reach 189.7 billion US dollars, which means that workers will be able to earn incomes in new ways through virtualisation without consuming physical resources in the same way. This shift points toward economic enrichment through digitisation regardless of your physical location. And there are also three actions you can do. Number one, make your community carbon positive. We need wise cities to be carbon positive. The only way to reach the 1.5 degree imperative to avoid the worst effects of climate change is to make sure new developments in cities are not just carbon neutral but carbon positive. This means they should generate more energy than they consume through renewable sources like solar, and in so doing become an energy contributor instead of an energy consumer. This is now possible if we build new buildings with consideration and seek to renovate and improve existing structures that are already existing. Number two, connect and deploy digital identity. For urban city dwellers, access to a digital identity owned by the individual is a crucial 21st century human right. With it, as an urban citizen, you’ll be able to access more goods, services and opportunities through the virtual world. You can obtain a digital identity and become a digital citizen through Hub ID, our service, or research other global initiatives for global citizenship programs including the global citizen forum, Estonia’s digital citizen project and even blockchain related initiatives like Colony or Bit Nation. There are many options emerging for virtual digital citizenship. And finally, number three, if you want to be part of building a future city and support restoration of the Amazon rainforest, you can. Hub Culture is busy working on Hub Culture; Emerald city. It’s a new virtual city that is currently being built online, but it’s also funding the protection of real world Amazon rainforest as part of its mission. You can become an Emerald city citizen and learn more about this exciting new mission at Thanks a lot guys.

Edie Lush (36:47): Thank you very much Stan, for those facts and actions. Before we go, we want to share more on our partner Universal Production Music and their initiative to introduce more diversity into the production music world. They teamed up with She Said So, an international and diverse network of women who work in the music industry along with the support of She is the Music, a nonprofit organisation that endeavours to increase the number of women working in music, to find female identifying composers and artists around the world to feature on the release of 100% her album, which is now live on the universal production music website and Spotify.

Claudia Romo Edelman (37:26): Out of 470 submissions, 10 winners were selected across the globe from France to Turkey, Australia to Sweden. 100% Her is a serene soundscape of smooth synths, vocal loops, and textures, so full strings and with just the right balance of bouncy and brooding baselines.

Edie Lush (37:48): Wow. All 10 tracks were composed, mixed and mastered by women. A huge feat for music as this seldom occurs within the industry. We’re going to hand over now to Áine Tennyson, talking with Kate Lloyd, who’s one of the winners and discover her story and what it means to be part of the 100% Her album.

Áine Tennyson (38:08): Today, I’m here with Kate Lloyd and she’s going to tell us a little bit more about herself and how she got into music.

Kate Lloyd (38:17): I am a composer and producer and I write various electronic music, some cinematic and orchestral as well. And I got into music from a young age really, started learning to play the piano from quite a young age and then just started writing songs on my own. They were off. I went to the Leeds College of Music and I did my Btec on music technology there. And then from then on I went to do my BA in music production, so I started learning the craft of sound engineering and producing and mixing.

Áine Tennyson (38:46): What kind of music style and genre do you prefer to create?

Kate Lloyd (38:51): I think I probably prefer the electronic genre and specifically more downtempo. So I’d always followed artists when I was growing up like Moby and Röyksopp, massive attack and that was the sort of thing that inspired my sound now I suppose so, if I had to choose, that’s probably what I always default to writing.

Áine Tennyson (39:12): How did you find out about the 100% her campaign?

Kate Lloyd (39:16): Not long before Christmas, I think it was around September time, the alumni coordinator at Leeds College of Music, they were in touch with me and they’d asked to write an article about my career and what I’d been up to, and he mentioned this campaign that Universal were doing and he said, okay, I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but I thought of you immediately because they’re looking for specifically female electronic composers and producers. And I clicked the link and I just thought, Oh my God, it just felt like a bit of a sign. So I clicked through and I read about the brief and what you guys were after. I just thought absolutely. That’s something I really want to go for. So yeah, that’s for Dav at Leeds College of Music. Thank you so much for sending me that link. You’re a legend.

Áine Tennyson (40:00): Tell me, how did it feel when you find out that you were one of the final 10 selected to be on the 100% her album?

Kate Lloyd (40:09): Uh, I was buzzing like so made up. It was just the best news when I first got the email that I’d been shortlisted. I mean my heart was already racing at that point and I was like, Oh my God, this actually might happen. And then when I finally was told that I’d made it onto the album, I just felt so proud. It’s just such an achievement. Everything behind the campaign is something which I really support anyway. Being a female in the music industry, especially being a producer-composer, and to be picked out and recognised as that, it was just a true celebration so, I feel extremely grateful to be part of the album.

Áine Tennyson (40:42): Did you know much about production music before and have you ever worked on any production music previously?

Kate Lloyd (40:49): Yeah, so I started getting into writing production music around a year and a half, two years ago. And it felt like a good idea to diverge what I was doing separate to what I’m doing as an artist. So I started writing for small production libraries. I write various different music for them, mainly electronica stuff, but it’s different to what I do as an artist. But yeah, so I really enjoy writing production music. It’s good. It’s a really good angle to get your music out there even further.

Áine Tennyson (41:20): So what would you say your next moves are going forward?

Kate Lloyd (41:24): I’d like to keep on writing more music for production libraries, absolutely. And get some more contracts with different companies. That would be really good. And then as an artist, I write under the name Klloyd and I’d like to start gigging more and putting more stuff out there under that name as well. Just see what happens. Kind of hoping to write an album by the end of 2020 so watch this space.

Áine Tennyson (41:49): Thanks Kate. And he is a little preview of Kate’s track solitude.

Claudia Romo Edelman (42:37): The 100% Her album is now out on the Universal Production music website and on Spotify. Okay, Edie. Thanks to all our guests and to you, our listeners.

Edie Lush (42:48): Please like and subscribe via Apple podcast or wherever you listen and follow us on social media at Global Goalscast.

Claudia Romo Edelman (42:56): See you next time.

Edie Lush (42:58): Adios!

Claudia Romo Edelman (42:58): Bye.

Michelle Cooprider (43:04): Global Goalscast was hosted by Edie lush and Claudia Romo Edelman. We are editorial gurued by Mike [inaudible]. SKUs. Editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooprider and our interns, Brittany Segura and Tarryn Renne. Music in this episode was courtesy of Universal Production music, one of the world’s leading production music companies, creating and licensing music for film, television, advertising, broadcast, and other media, including podcasts. Original music by Neil Hale, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Katie Crone, and Andrew Phillips. This episode is brought to you by Brevet Capital Management, providing financial solutions that bring investors and businesses together to address the needs of governments. Thanks also to CBS News Digital.