Sustainable Cities™

Vandana Shiva: A city that functions like a cluster of villages

Vandana Shiva, an internationally recognized Indian activist and philosopher, explains that planning for the human being rather than the automobile can liberate space and create community within a city. In her opinion, a sustainable city should operate as a self-reliant and self-sufficient cluster of villages.

What are the qualities that should characterize a sustainable city?
"In my opinion, a sustainable city is really a city that functions like a cluster of villages, in the sense that each part of it is self-reliant and self-sufficient, that you should be able to walk out of your house and find your groceries, and the laundry, and everything else that you need for everyday living. Basically a density of occupation, a multi-functionality and density of use, both to liberate space and to create community."

What are the challenges that top the to-do list of cities around the world?
"I think that the biggest challenge that we face is that the modern city has grown around the automobile. Of course, all you have to do is to look at Los Angeles to see that nothing is a neighbourhood, which is then what also lends itself to cities of violence, cities of non-neighborliness. I personally feel pain that today Delhi is trying to mimic Los Angeles by thinking that the car should design the city rather than the human being. I don't know where this misguidedness in urban design comes from, but every good designer, architect, is tearing their hair apart at what Delhi is being transformed into."

What are the most promising initiatives that would make living in cities more sustainable?

"I think urban gardens are very, very exciting. Even a few years ago, you couldn't have imagined that this could happen, that people could tear down parking lots and create gardens rather than tear down gardens and create parking lots. If you want to create an urban garden, make it organic; don't douse urea and spray pesticides."

'Green' mobility
"Linked to urban gardening is the 'green' version of mobility in terms of celebrating walking, in terms of celebrating biking."

"The Delhi I knew would be a very good role model. Old Delhi qualifies for many of these things. Not the Delhi transformed under the Commonwealth Games [taking place in Delhi 3-14 October 2010, ed.]. I think that for mobility for sure Copenhagen takes the cake. In terms of urban gardens, I find that Berlin is the place, partly because it's taken a new life after the wall came down, partly because it has so many migrants from so many cultures and there is much more of a creative, innovative instinct in the citizens. Gardening really has become the way to reclaim citizenship."

About Vandana Shiva

Vandana-Shiva_193x193_0 Vandana Shiva is an internationally recognized Indian activist and philosopher. After earning a PhD in physics from the University of Western Ontario, she has campaigned tirelessly on issues related to agriculture and food, property rights, and gender. She has assisted grassroots movements in countries around the world.

Dr. Shiva has advised the International Forum on Globalization, a citizens' group that monitors the impact of globalisation; the Women's Environment & Development Organization, an international organization focused on gender equality; and the Third World Network, a network of individuals and organizations that addresses environmental issues and development in the Third World. In 1984, Dr. Shiva founded Navdanya, an organisation that works to promote biodiversity, farmers' rights, and organic farming. In 1993, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize, "for placing women and ecology at the heart of the modern development discourse."

>> Navdanya
>> International Forum on Globalization
>> Women's Environment & Development Organization
>> Third World Network
>> Right Livelihood Award

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014