A Gem of the Green Movement, Emerald Cities Published Last Week

BY ESTHER
April 6, 2010

In Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development, Joan Fitzgerald, director of the Law, Policy and Society Program at Northeastern University, showcases how some cities have taken the lead in creating policy that is mutually beneficial to both the environment and economic development. Ms. Fitzgerald spoke on this subject and introduced her book at SPUR, this past November 17th.

According to Joan Fitzgerald, it has fallen to cities around the world to embrace the challenge of sustainability, because national governments have failed to come to an agreement on a global policy.  The lack of any significant outcome from the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen last year serves to underscore the matter: you cannot effect environmental change without addressing the underlying issues of how that change affects disparate groups.

It is not surprising that San Francisco is one of the cities responding to the call to take these economic factors and questions of accessibility into consideration—you can read what SPUR has contributed in our report Critical Cooling: San Francisco can fight global warming through smart changes to local policy.

Fitzgerald agrees that cities are uniquely situated to make a difference due to population density and use of public transportation, to promote and benefit from green economic development in particular.  She provides examples of policy from cities that have successfully addressed the interrelated environmental problems of global warming, pollution and energy dependence, with social justice, equity, and job quality in mind as well as policy from cities that have found the process more challenging.  Fitzgerald provides a guide to help city and regional planners and policymakers move toward becoming “emerald cities.“