Christchurch, rebuilding on sustainable practices

Christchurch Conference

After recently, attending a Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, I could not help but thinkabout the real meaning of Sustainability. A beautiful, historical city had its heart torn out a few years ago by an earthquake. A devastating blow at the time, but now I saw a vibrant city re-emerging with a unique mix of Heritage and Modern to recreate their city. When asking a few of the obvious questions, as one does when they go to such a place, you found that they have a love for their city and wanted to be there.

At the time, a few lessons were learnt, modern services such as water, electricity, gas and drainage were no match for nature – it didn’t matter if the services were above or below ground – they were affected. Have the lessons been learnt – time will tell I guess.

Today, the services are largely returned and building activity is evident all over the city. What’s not immediately obvious was the degree of balancing of the needs between the various peoples of the city to ensure that the fabric of the city was addressed. From the venues for live theatre and nightlife to the creation of recreation and dining precincts, a lot of work had apparently been done already with more underway for the human ingredient of the city.

Application of UN Sustainable Development Goals

No matter where you looked, sustainability – either by design or necessity – was occurring. The balancing of public spaces, recreation facilities, shopping, tourism and the like were occurring. I am sure that some would query some of the decisions, but to me it seemed like an example of how the principles of sustainability were being considered in a real use and in real circumstances. There were examples of the implementation of the principles behind the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), being used in a modern urban city. Many times, we think of the SDG’s as being applied to developing countries, but in reality they are equally applicable in any part of the globe.

The required answers to the local issues will be different in each location – out of necessity – but the underlying principles will be the same – it’s the implementation that is different.

The global village (the planet we all live on) has many parts but when there is a real effort to work together for a common goal, real sustained change is possible. No answer is the same – no question is the same – but the overall outcome is the common element.

Written by Alan Tupicoff, Director of Atsolve