Drawing of woman saving the planet

Bringing nature back

  • Planning conditions to specify net gains in biodiversity for all development
  • Regenerative cities (green walls, roofs and other infrastructure)
  • Parks: lots of biodiversity
  • Trees and bushes: plant more, preserve what you have, make them all productive – nuts and fruit
  • Indoor, vertical, rooftop, food growing, incl. mushrooms, aquaculture
  • Vertical farms: can be all scales from large warehouses to inside homes, shops and cafes, and can include aquaculture and poultry
  • Allotments, community gardens, therapeutic gardens
  • ‘Incredible edible’ plants at every opportunity
  • Plenty of opportunity for a land-based jobs and jobs in food-processing
  • Procurement along supply chains to include conditions to yield net gains in biodiversity.

Low-tech, cost-effective infrastructure and development

  • Life cycle analysis to reduce overall demand and cost to the natural world
  • Make developments human scale
  • Deploy low-impact and natural materials that sequester carbon where possible
  • Keep it simple: eco-minimalism – do more with less
  • Keep it local: support the local economy by procuring locally
  • Plan for easy maintenance and end-of-life removal and recycling
  • Design out the possibility of less sustainable behaviour.


  • Conserve water use
  • Reuse water
  • Prevent water pollution
  • Rainwater collection from roofs
  • Replenish underground aquifers.

Carbon-negative design

  • Energy efficiency, reducing demand and need
  • Passive design new buildings; older buildings deep retrofitted for energy efficiency
  • Decarbonise travel
  • 100 per cent renewable energy supplies
  • Supply (local): heating, cooling, electricity
  • Investigate feasibility of district heat mains
  • Distributed generation; 4th generation solar will be almost invisible, often building integrated
  • Some wind turbines
  • Combined heat and power
  • Anaerobic digestion for biogas and compost
  • Heating: geothermal, ground and water source heat pumps, solar thermal, passive solar, biogas;
  • Interseasonal storage
  • Demand management technology
  • Building Information Management systems in larger buildings
  • Incinerate only absolute waste in CHP plants
  • Climate-appropriate street layout and vegetation planting to either reduce heat island effect and therefore cooling energy demand and or reduce heat demand, depending on location.

Sustainable transport and mobility

  • Minimise need to travel far by locating housing near jobs, services, shops etc.
  • Separate vehicular traffic from pedestrians and cyclists
  • Plan networked, latticed town and neighbourhood centres around transport hubs
  • Use efficient, cheap public transport: metro, subway, buses, trams, light rail and intercity
  • Promote walking, cycling by design of streets and neighbourhoods
  • Separate local and longer-distance traffic
  • Lots of bikes and bike hire schemes
  • Rickshaws, cargo bikes for people and goods delivery
  • Electric vehicle hire and share schemes.

Closed-loop systems

  • Design out waste
  • Design out plastic
  • Design products to be reused and recycled
  • Reward waste minimisation and sorting of waste, especially plastics
  • Reclaim nutrients from food, agricultural waste, and sewage
  • Repair and upcycle workshops in every neighbourhood
  • Replace throwaway with a culture of exchange, swap, repair, and reuse
  • Use local industrial symbiosis systems.

Adapting to climate change

  • Prepare for extreme weather
  • Storm swales and underground lagoons
  • Raise areas of potential floods
  • Sustainable urban drainage
  • Protect against overheating
  • Use vegetation to tackle heat island effect
  • In areas of high winds, buildings close together to prevent funnelling.

Friendly neighbourhoods

  • Human scale, people-centred design
  • Markets – formal and informal, street and covered, valued for small traders and social interaction
  • Conserve amenity value and embodied energy of old buildings while retrofitting for efficiency
  • Preserve communities through provision of affordable housing and full mix of housing and land use
  • Respect and support all cultures
  • Work, education ideally located near to home
  • Public transport and parks within walking distance
  • Leisure, shops, entertainment and museums nearby.

Health and well-being

  • Neighbourhood level drop-in health centres and hospitals
  • Some consultations may be distance tech-based
  • All people to have access to cheap, fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables
  • Cooking workshops and education
  • All-ages-friendly cities
  • Mental health support
  • Accessibility everywhere: ramps, not steps
  • Walking, cycling, pathways, wayfinding.

Democracy and justice

  • Implement ‘The Right To The City’
  • Root out corruption
  • Independent watchdogs and transparency
  • Use technology to maximise participation in decisions, campaigns
  • Smart sensors, feedback loops and algorithms to help manage some basic services
  • Smart involvement uses the wisdom of crowds, open data, etc.
  • Sensitive, anonymous surveillance is part of data collection, linked to algorithms which attempt to model and predict needs so they can be met efficiently.

Organisation and management

  • Set a target to reduce the ecological footprint of the county/region to ‘one planet’ from the present three planets in 20 years.
  • Check what causes the current high footprint now and where the quick wins are.
  • Improve all public bodies’ spending calls to create a new market for genuinely sustainable service and goods providers (Preston model + eco-footprint reduction), by including all social, financial and environmental criteria in the buying processes.
  • Stimulate the transition to the circular economy, reusing everything as nature does, with training, awards and prizes.
  • De-silo departmental decision-making so all departments are working together.
  • Change the planning law to prohibit development that does not contribute to One Planet goals, and encourage that which does. One Planet Development criteria already in place offer a blueprint for the rest of planning to follow.
  • Set in place monitoring to check progress year-on-year aligns with targets.
  • Develop a citywide and individual ecological footprint calculator app so everyone can check their own footprints and compare with the city target and average as part of a programme of awareness raising and publicity.

Note: Ecological footprint = carbon footprint + all other impacts & benefits like more nature.

What some cities are doing