The Urban Green Revolution

| September / October 2005

Forget watered-down global treaties among nations -- cities are the next environmental frontier

In June, mayors from around the world gathered in San Francisco to draw up an ambitious blueprint for the green city of tomorrow. They also compared notes on new experiments in mass transit, energy use, and other aspects of urban life that will need to be transformed if cities are to lower their impact on climate change and environmental decline. Associate editor Leif Utne attended the event, which he calls the moment when a quietly growing green-cities movement revealed itself to be a global phenomenon. Here is his report. -- The Editors

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jaime Lerner is beaming like a proud grandfather. After speaking at the United Nations summit on urban sustainability, held here in early June, the 67-year-old architect and former mayor of the Brazilian city of Curitiba has just been mobbed by adoring fans. For the founder of the growing green cities movement, this is nothing new. He's long been the darling of progressive urban policy wonks for the way he transformed his hometown into what many now call the greenest city on earth.

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