Curridabat, Costa Rica

Biophilic Cities Member since February 2, 2018

Even though we have been executing many actions over the last years in order to enhance our citizen’s wellbeing through the increase of contact with Nature, such as the creation and maintenance of public areas and many other efforts to solve and innovate through the most demanding environmental issues, is until 2015 that the Mayor ́s office (through its innovation team) started to conceptualize a whole new vision for the city, called Sweet City. During approximately 1 year a series of efforts have been done to project this vision towards the community, mainly as prototypes that have been executed by the Mayor’s office. This prototypes were developed in line with the conceptualization of Sweet City as the Municipality’s Development Vision which has been slowly introduced within the whole organization.

This vision not only make sense to integrate Mayor Edgar Mora’s and his innovation team proposals within the Strategic and Operative Municipal Plan (as a public policy) but has shown the potential to become a whole new development model for small and medium sized cities (which are the majority in the planet) and do not have enough economic resources but do have lots of natural resources, that can be reproduced to generate prosperity. In this sense, a Sweet City sees the pollinators as the more efficient prosperity agents. After a Sweet City ́s Vision brief, we will refer to a re-conceptualization of what we consider four key resources that will enable us to execute all the necessary actions to become a sustainable city.

Finally, a first identification and revision of the Singapore Biodiversity Index and Biophilic indicators is included, pointing out which are already in use and contained in other plans and documents. As I explained by e-mail we just visited Singapore and held an effective meeting with NParks They have been very cooperative and sharing useful information, such as greenery maintenance contracts, and other executing related tools that have been very challenging for us as a local government. Just a few weeks ago finally decided to get involved with their Biodiversity Index.

Sweet City aims to improve the experience of its inhabitants through 5 fundamental dimensions: Biodiversity, Infrastructure, Habitat, Coexistence and Productivity.

Biodiversity: to reintroduce biodiversity into the urban space, which basically means ̈to bring the park into the neighborhoods

Infrastructure: to align urban infrastructure and landscape architecture with biodiversity and not backwards. Traditionally, infrastructure has been the mechanism to contain and structure nature within the urban territory. With new challenges as climate change, infrastructure should make cities resilient and capable of adaptation while reducing their ecological footprint within the region. More specifically, ¿how can we accommodate infrastructure so that rivers serve and enhance their ecological purpose within the territory? ¿how does a drop of water travel within our cities? The urban infrastructure has been designed to promote runoff (to quickly drive the raindrops to the nearest river). Nowadays, it is necessary to design infrastructure that favors percolation, that is to say that the raindrop stays in the place where it falls.

Habitat: based on the two previous two, this dimension aims to improve the relation of inhabitants with all urban elements. To design the territory to create a less segregated society (more accesible and integrated habitat), with better access to opportunities. ¿How can we provide access to opportunities–work, education, goods and services, health and recreation– to everyone, equally? Habitat is focused mostly on how such opportunities are distributed along the territory, along with the location of housing and the transportation systems (transit, private and non-motorized) to reach them. An example is the current 7600 Law (Law on Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities) that establishes the construction of access ramps and installation of elevators in shops; However from actual experience, a person with a disability can not even move to the its neighborhood food store.

Coexistence: to enable vulnerable populations to provide cohesive influence on policy for a more inclusive habitat. Setting the conditions to integrate different members to our communities. This ranges from the inclusion of pollinizers and pets to all the citizenry’s cohorts. Further, it includes temporary inhabitants or occupants, such as people who work but do not “reside” in the community. How friendly, pleasant and inclusive is our city for fauna –such as humming birds– and minorities, like female immigrants? For example if only the owners are considered members of a community, and these are mostly men, the design of the city would exclude women, the migrant, and the pollinator as well as other citizens who actively coexist in the urban space.

Productivity: to revert the city’s most common and destructive pattern: resource-intensiveness.Turn the city from an extractive consuming power to a productive one. Despite the fact that the majority of the world’s citizens currently live in the urban setting, we continue to rely on the rural setting to produce electricity and food, sub estimating the productive capacity of cities. How do the previous dimensions work as layers to set the stage for a more productive urban scenario?

City Contact: Irene María García Brenes, Director of the Mayor's Office, irene.garcia@curridabat.go.cr

SWEET CITY – A MULTIDIMENSIONAL DEVELOPMENT VISION

POLLINATION, A NEW BASIS FOR CITY MODELING
Historically, Latin America has imported urban development models that do not correspond neither to its reality or its needs as a region. These traditional models have lagged behind relevant global challenges such as climate change, inequity, human security, and the technology gap and connectivity, among others. Sweet City recognizes pollinators and especially native bees (the largest producer of plants, trees and ultimately soil) as the center of urban design; Thus overcoming the long-lived antagonism between the city and nature that projects traditional urban development.This vision starts from the certainty that a city designed to improve pollinators’ experience will become abundant, diverse, robust, comfortable, colorful and better organized. This holistic approach aims to enhance the adaptability of cities to climate change by implicitly and explicitly paying attention to ALL members of the community including nature and especially the marginalized elements that have been left behind by traditional urban models.

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