Sustainable Cities™

Hilmar von Lojewski: A global balance

In this interview, Hilmar von Lojewski discusses his experiences as an urban planner in Germany and in Syria. He argues that we need more people working on the growing megalopolis ares in the southern hemisphere.

Q: What are the three qualities that should characterize a sustainable city?
'In my opinion three features: density, proximity, and a mixture of users. We have these features in European cities and we must sustain them. In Damascus, for example, or in traditional Syrian cities, they have these features but are about to lose them. Adding to that, participation is an asset for sustainability in urban development. And the principle of subsidiarity - i.e. urban governance taking place at the site where the impact of urban planning happens-in the localities in the cities themselves.'

Q: What are the challenges that top the to-do list in cities around the world?
'If we compare the number of urban planners and architects working on sustainability issues in the northern hemisphere to the number of urban planners and architects per capita in the southern hemisphere, we have to face the fact that we are working on this issue in the northern hemisphere with an extremely high input by woman and manpower. Whereas in the southern hemisphere, we have simply a lack of expertise, a lack of people who can run urban government, a lack of administrative experts and a lack of planners who are commissioned to work on urban development schemes that have sustainability issues as their prime target.

'The prime challenge is to find a balance of expertise. We simply need more people working on the growing megalopolis areas in the southern hemisphere.'

Q: What are the most promising initiatives that would make living in cities more sustainable?
Cities without Slums
'The initiative supported by Cities Alliance under the heading "Cities without Slums" supports countries and cities in developing a "State of Cities" report, which outlines the current situation of the cities according to a set of urban development indicators. In many of the emerging economies there is still a rather strong centralized government that likes to intervene at a local level.

'With this tool, the State of Cities report, it becomes obvious which strengths cities have and how they can develop. It brings a ministry, for example, back to its initial, basic function; to set out development indicators, to develop benchmarks and to provide the framework conditions for development at the urban level.'

'Transport makes people contribute to the urban economy, which brings people into the position to play a role in making a living in an urban area.'

Healthy Living
'Air quality, water quality and soil quality. Many people in urban areas in the southern hemisphere have realized that they simply suffer health problems due to the poor standards of air quality. So all in all, I think we need a considerable shift of investments in urban areas from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere, and we need to monitor this simply per capita.'

About Hilmar von Lojewski

Hilmar-von-Lojewski_193x193_0 Hilmar von Lojewski has worked extensively in the field of sustainable urban development and has particular interest in the legal framework for urban planning and the development of growing economies. From 2000 to 2007, he served as the head of urban planning and projects in Berlins Senate Department for Urban Development. Today, he works for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) as the program manager of the urban sustainability program in Syria.

GTZ is a federally-owned organization that works to support the German government in achieving its international development objectives, focusing on capacity development for sustainable solutions. The company now has 15,000 employees and operates in 128 countries around the world. In Syria, GTZ has worked to revive, modernize, and preserve historic cities, helping the Syrian government to create a strategic policy for sustainable urban development.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014