AMP-ing Up Collaborative Urban Solutions
Rapid urbanization is a global phenomenon. The number of people predicted to live in cities is anticipated to grow by more than 2.5 billion over the next 40 years. Though cities have been a source of jobs, wealth, and economic opportunity generating 70% of GDP globally, poorly planned urban development can result in socio-economic and environmental problems that are all-too familiar, including increased gridlock, violent crime, and air pollution.
In light of population growth, climate change, and other global challenges, cities around the world are exploring ways to be more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient. Traditionally, governments have approached city management by sector – housing, transportation, environment, and welfare – all in different departments with varying resources, objectives, timelines, and tools.
To make cities more sustainable society must collaborate as though our children’s future depends on it – because it does. This will require integrated planning and imaginative approaches to non-traditional partnerships that draw on the strengths of diverse stakeholders, including the efficiencies of the private sector, the community awareness of the non-profit sector and the capabilities of the public sector to strengthen the business enabling environment.
A New Platform
Launched in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State’s Global Partnership Initiative, Accelerating Market-driven Partnerships (AMP) serves as a global collaboration platform to harness the power of markets to create economic value while driving positive social and environmental outcomes.
AMP is a cross-sectoral network of governments, corporations, multi-lateral institutions, foundations, and NGOs with the goal to catalyze, facilitate, and scale impactful innovations and address specific social, environmental, and core business challenges. Founding partners include the Rockefeller Foundation, Hewlett Packard, Georgetown University, the World Bank, Mercy Corps, Waggener Edstrom, Arent Fox, Grupo ABC, Machado Associados, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with the Tides Center serving as the secretariat.
AMP’s initial focus area is sustainable cities and housing. The vision is to create a marketplace for collective action where those who seek social innovation—such as corporations and municipal governments—can partner with each other to integrate expertise, capital and other critical resources to generate enduring social impact.
For example, the AMP platform could help effectively scale business solutions to mitigate flooding in a region with new regulation requiring stricter safety standards. An entrepreneur who fabricated an inexpensive roofing system to capture rainwater could collaborate with construction supply companies to adapt the product for modular application. The entrepreneur could also be matched with private financing needed to scale up production, thereby promoting wide-spread adoption in new community development projects and mitigating the social and environmental costs of frequent flooding.
Brazil Pilot Program
In recent years, more than 30 million Brazilians rose out of poverty, contributing to a growing middle class. The rise of Brazil’s consumer society has also created significant environmental and social challenges. Approximately 87 percent of Brazilians live in urban environments; about 24 million Brazilians live in informal housing.
That is why AMP’s first pilot program will focus on assisting Brazilians to innovate and create environmentally, culturally, and economically sustainable cities—promoting the equity, safety, and well-being of residents, maximizing the efficiency of use of vital resources, creating inclusive housing and vibrant communities, and developing resilient infrastructure systems to support robust growth.
The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have been working closely with the government of Brazil to identify opportunities to promote collaborative social innovation. Brazil is investing heavily in housing infrastructure; over one million low-income housing units will be built by 2014 under the mandate and support of the federal government.
AMP intends to work with diverse stakeholders, including the Brazilian Ministry of Cities, to identify the technical and financial innovations to drive sustainable development, and then facilitate the partnerships required to accelerate those innovations. AMP is developing a framework to document this process and curate its discoveries on an open-collaboration platform so that these innovations can be replicated in other urban markets.
The scale of these projects will enable the AMP network to help the government better leverage their combined resources and layer on additional sustainable, inclusive, and adaptive elements to their housing projects.
For example, a 20,000 unit residential development project can offer the economies of scale for an engineering firm to design, implement, and manage a renewable energy system that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive to install retroactively or on an individual basis for private residences.
What’s New / What’s Next
AMP recently hired an Executive Director, Robert Foster, in April 2013. Priorities for AMP in the next few months are to hold a series of convenings to gain critical input from stakeholders, define the specific opportunities for collaboration, and harness existing partnerships to accelerate social and environmental investments in the housing sector in Brazil.
AMP invites new partners to collaborate on local efforts to help solve complex global problems.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from the Meeting of the Minds Blog
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
As Meeting of the Minds well knows, the integration of technology in all aspects of city life will manifest in many ways over the next two decades. Artificial intelligence, crowdsourcing, and data collection and analysis have gotten the most attention, but many of the most striking changes are set to occur in the physical realm – the layout of streets and sidewalks. Planners are hard at work right now trying to anticipate what’s going to be needed to accommodate delivery drones, trackless trams, and of course driverless cars and trucks, which will present their own congestion problems potentially, but also will free up all kinds of urban land no longer needed for traffic flow or parking. The transformation of the urban landscape will be more complicated than the transition from horses to cars, but no less doable.
Replacing grass with climate appropriate plants (and irrigating those plants properly) can reduce a landscape’s water needs by 70-80 percent. During the last California drought, we saw homes across the state doing this, a trend significant enough to be clear on Google Maps. This was a big part of why California’s urban communities were able to meet, in fact exceed, the emergency drought mandate of reducing water use by 20 percent.
The use platform provides information on how to develop and implement approaches in response to complex urban issues in a local context. Each of the case studies offers a summary of a project, program or policy, including challenges, lessons learned, impacts and an assessment of the transferability potential to another location. The use platform is free and accessible to everyone who shares an interest in urban sustainability. Search our database, join the community, and upload your project.