I recently learned an astonishing statistic: over the past 100 years, the global population has quadrupled, from two billion to eight billion, according to Our World in Data. In parallel, the effects of cities on nature are progressing at an unprecedent pace. The combined implications of this information make our upcoming international conference, Humanizing High Density—People, Nature & the Urban Realm, more urgent than ever.
In addition to the rote logistical considerations of accommodating population density at a scale never before seen in human history, we must factor in other imperatives such as achieving equity in housing, finding balance with nature, and creating better social spaces. We often speak of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur as living laboratories of sustainable urbanism—a recent New York Times interactive feature, “How to Cool Down a City,” validates this claim, demonstrating compellingly how we can employ nature to mitigate the impact of climate change and deliver a more livable urban realm.
Harnessing the inherent capacity of ecosystems can provide a wide range of benefits for both people and the planet. For example, expanding and enhancing urban green spaces—parks, green roofs, and urban forests—can absorb carbon dioxide, reduce the urban heat island effect, and enhance air quality. Industry-leading experts will investigate these solutions in presentations such as “Designing a Building That Can Absorb Carbon: Urban Sequoia NOW” and others in the conference’s Natural Realm track.
And, of course, we cannot overlook the need to establish policies and incentives that encourage widespread adoption, including raising public awareness about the benefits of these approaches, as well as partnerships with governments, businesses, communities, and other organizations specializing in environmental conservation and sustainability to provide valuable expertise and resources for successful implementation. The panel discussion “High Density Development: How Social Value Creation and a Human-Centric Approach Drives Financial Returns,” part of the Social Realm track, will surely supply thought-provoking insights in this regard.
With so much at stake and so many relevant and impactful conversations to be had, I hope you’ll consider joining me—and more than 1,000 leaders in sustainable vertical urbanism—for a robust program, including numerous networking opportunities and illuminating off-sites, that delivers the most prescient thinking and advanced practices in defining what it means to humanize high density.