Platt heads to Instanbul to discuss ecological cities

January 18, 2005

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The Ecological Cities Project, directed by Geosciences professor Rutherford H. Platt, will collaborate with Istanbul Technical University (ITU) to hold an ecological cities workshop from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1.

The goal of the workshop is to begin developing a proposal to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Institution’s (UNESCO) Man and Biosphere Program to establish an “urban biosphere reserve” in the vicinity of Istanbul. Platt will give a keynote talk, summarizing strategies for making cities more ecological and humane. The Ecological Cities Project was started by Platt in 1999 as a program of research, outreach and teaching based in the Department of Geosciences. The project is documenting innovative approaches to making cities greener, healthier, more people-friendly and more socially equitable.

Organizing the Istanbul event is Azime Tezer Kemer, associate professor of planning at ITU and a visiting scholar with the Ecological Cities Project under a UNESCO Keizo Obuchi Environmental Policy Research Fellowship.

The workshop is supported by the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, ITU and UNESCO. Participants will include representatives of UNESCO, the City of Istanbul, Columbia University, World Wildlife Fund-Turkey and other regional organizations in Istanbul.

In the United States, the Ecological Cities Project has facilitated regional ecological cities conferences in Boston, Milwaukee and Columbia, S.C., with future events under discussion for Houston, Pittsburgh and Portland, Ore. In 2002, the project organized a national symposium in New York City on “The Humane Metropolis: People and Nature in the 21st Century City.” A film based on that conference is nearly finished and a book by the same title has been accepted for publication by the University of Massachusetts Press.

The Ecological Cities Project is also conducting a multi-year study of urban watershed restoration funded by the National Science Foundation with a follow-up proposal now under consideration.