USP 514 Session 7 Notes

October 5th  
Session Seven: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Plans
This session will focus on how urban administrators have developed approaches to promote sustainable development. The following questions will frame our class discussion.

  1. What are the SDG’s?
    • The SDGs are a uniform set of goals for sustainable development which evolved out of decades of work by teams at the United Nations.
    • The list
      1. No poverty
        • Inability to meet basic needs
        • Shelter, food, health, clothes, transportation, education
      2. Zero hunger
        • Public and private partnerships to feed people
        • More sustainable food production
        • We produce food for people industrially
        • We produce food for animals industrially
        • We produce food for fuels industrially
        • Lots of waste, land
        • We need to rethink the way we are producing grains
        • People need to eat more than grain
          • Fiber
          • Protein
          • Insects
        • Smaller scale agricultural production
        • Food distribution: we need to waste less and distribute more
          • 40% of our food production goes to waste
        • Malthusian arguments about overpopulation are fascist lies. There has always been plenty of food for everyone, and it has always been deliberately withheld in order to increase profits by charging higher prices.
      3. Good health and well-being
        • Healthcare must be free
      4. Quality education
        • Power
        • Resources
        • Curriculum
        • Language accessibility
      5. Gender equality
        • Norms change
        • Access to reproductive resources
        • Giving women economic power
        • Second-wave feminism
      6. Clean water and sanitation
      7. Affordable and clean energy
      8. Decent work and economic growth
      9. Industry , innovation, and infrastructure
      10. Reduced inequality
      11. Sustainable cities and communities
      12. Responsible consumption and production
      13. Climate action
      14. Life below water
      15. Life on land
      16. Peace and justice strong institutions
      17. Partnerships to achieve the goal
        • Public/private
  2. How do the SDGs inform economic development policies and practices in cities?
  3. How can we use the SDGs to create plans and policies that promote sustainable development in cities?


REQUIRED READING FOR SESSION SEVEN (click on Session 7 on left side to access reading)

  1. Sustainable Development Goals 
  2. Sustainable Development Goals Report (PDF)
  3. Millennium Development Goals Report (PDF) 
  4. Seeing cities as the environmental solution, not the problem



Watch the 3 videos below and be prepared to discuss the questions in class.

VIDEO #1 Bogata, Building a Sustainable City – 25 minutes

  1. What are the main themes in this video?
    • Rapid unplanned urban growth leads to social problems
    • Adding population without adding infrastructure and planning to support the additional population will result in a lower quality of life and an increase in social problems in the city.
    • Reclaiming public space
  2. What were the major issues raised in this video?
    • If you don’t plan your city, it will not be a good city for people.
    • Transpiration and transit
    • Giving public spaces like sidewalks back to people instead of cars
    • Giving water, sewage, and health to the extremely poor before giving it to car culture for the rich.
  3. What strategies were used to address urban problems in Bogata?
    • Planning
    • Sustainable urban design as a foundation for social justice
    • The planners used tactics like color and diction to make the new bus system “sexy.”
      • They tried to get people to say they are “taking the trans-millenial” rather than “taking the bus.”
    • Smaller trunk lines feed the main lines so allow a larger area to access the bus system
    • Satellite connections between buses means the system can be efficiently managed to meet its maximum capacity, redirecting resources where they are needed most in real time.
    • Getting cars off the sidewalks was initially a controversial position
    • They built a pedestrian road through the poorest parts of the city with sewage and water pipes underneath, displacing open sewers with new healthy spaces for people to move through the city.
      • The longest pedestrian road in Latin America
      • This connects the transit systems and the schools and libraries to the people, becoming a cultural commentary and statement about the priorities of the city
      • There was a huge shift in social problems after this was built, with the most dangerous parts of the city becoming safe, and social problems going away.
  4. Why does Mayor Penolosa of Bogata believe that sustainable urban design a foundation for social justice?
    • (3:15-5:20) He seemed to argue for broken windows theory; that people will decide what kind of life to have based on their surroundings, and so eliminating the negative cues about the kind of neighborhoods you have will cause people to choose to live in a better way. He said this gave people more self esteem which solved urban social problems.
    • He riffed for a while and seemed to argue that living in America inspired him to believe that a lassaiz-faire capitalism will eventually solve many social problems. He specifically argued that socialism is bad in contrast on this point.
    • He specifically claims (6:30) that restricting car use on some roads during certain times and allowing bikes to use the roads instead is “the seed” of social progress towards the new Bogota.
    • If you spend all your money building freeways then you have no money left for parks and schools
    • If you have a limited amount of money, it can’t all go to car culture which benefits only a few
  5. What did you learn from this video?
    • The bus system was previously a mafia business in Bogota, and later became a city program.
      • The new system was based on the Curitiba bus system: “The best bus system in the world.”
    • It was interesting to hear his Penolosa’s thoughts on the idea of restricting cars being the seed of sustainable urban development.


VIDEO #2 Top Ten Eco Cities (3 minutes)

  1. What are the main themes in this video?
    • Eco efficiency
    • Create a climate with better biodiversity and use of natural resources
    • Great public transit
  2. What were the major issues raised in this video?
    • Fossil fuels
    • Wasted resources
    • Green spaces
  3. What issues related to sustainable development are left out of this video?
    • Social justice
    • Regenerative design
  4. What did you learn from this video?
    • I had no idea there were so many examples of cities in the US which are doing a good job with sustainable design


VIDEO #3 Integrating Green Infrastructure into Pittsburg’s Urban Fabric

  1. What are the main themes in this video?
    • Water
    • Sewage
    • Roads
    • Power lines
    • Green spaces
  2. What are the main strategies Pittsburg is using in its green infrastructure efforts?
    • Rebuilding and redesigning the infrastructure in a greener way
    • Moving away from moving the water away as a core strategy
    • They changed the way the sewage runoff worked so that it wasn’t just dumping straight into the river, and instead only going to the river if the new sewage system was overwhelmed. “Interceptor pipe system.”
    • The new plan was to use green spaces as part of the plan to manage storm water rather than combining it with sewage and just dumping everything in the river.
  3. What did you learn about engineering and planning in this video?
    • I was surprised to learn that the original system just dumped the sewage into the river
    • Since the systems were already over capacity and very old, going green meant addressing the current and future needs.
    • It was cool to see the way they designed green spaces to hold storm water and manage it there instead of relying on everything going into the sewers.