BOGOTA – Experts from more than 11 countries are participating in the 1st International Symposium on Urban Ecology in Colombia’s capital, where they are trying to find ways of creating green spaces in Latin America’s rapidly growing cities.
Urban planners must find ways to once again design cities “with natural spaces appropriate for use by city residents,” said the director of the Humboldt Research Institute, German Andrade.
By 2050, according to a 2014 United Nations report, two-thirds of humans will be living in urban areas, a 54 percent increase over current figures.
This trend requires an “eco-urban” culture still incipient in Latin America, where “the mainstream trend is to build cities with a lot of concrete, rigid structures and little adaptation to climate change,” Andrade told EFE.
Cecilia Herzog, a professor from the Pontifical University in Rio de Janeiro, noted a lack of initiative among officials in her city when it comes to implementing programs for “integrating green infrastructure” into the urbanization process.
“Rio de Janeiro is not focused on urban ecology,” Herzog said. “The main concern is economic sustainability with tall buildings wrapped in glass that need a lot of energy to function.”
Herzog said Rio de Janeiro’s selection as host of the 2016 Olympic Games had not changed the economic paradigm that dominated the city’s growth.
Over three days of talks, European scholars will present ideas about incorporating nature into urban planning.
Christian Loja, of the University of Bucharest, will show the evolution of Romania’s capital from Soviet-influenced urbanization “heavy on concrete” to the present.
The symposium is being sponsored by the Alexander Von Humboldt Research Institute, the Urban Ecology Society and Empresa Economia y Naturaleza.