Urban Eco Labs
By 2030 more than 60% of the world population is expected to live in cities (UN, 1997). Increasing population density makes cities the centres of demand for ecosystem services. In a study of the 29 largest cities in the Baltic Sea region, it was estimated that the cities claimed ecosystem support areas at least 500-1000 times larger than the area of the cities themselves (Folke et al., 1997). A liveable city should therefore be based on an ecological concept that protects and makes use of natural resources in and around the city centre that provide ecosystem services. By viewing the city as an ecosystem itself, balancing out the urban dependence of cities on the surrounding landscape and the links between the rural and the urban, a holistic and sustainable approach to cities development can be employed.
Fast urbanization is only one of the features of contemporary times, along with population growth, elimination of resources, environmental degradation, societal and economical instabilities, as well as demographic changes and climate change. Population growth and urbanisation in large municipalities in the Nordic region has brought up the need to address arising problems. As densification of the urban centres increases the proportion of impervious surfaces, a key focus has been to create more green spaces in the city. Green spaces that provide urban water management solutions (Blue green spaces) promote ecosystem services and adapt faster to flooding occurrences, while supplementing to the city’s green infrastructure and recreational spaces.
In the Norwegian paradigm, social sustainability is an important aspect of urban redevelopment and a focal point to national, regional and local authorities in Norway. This places high demands on the authorities to come up with sustainable solutions that accommodate the many different needs, and also contribute to more liveable cities and urban spaces. One critical issue in employing innovative solutions is that often municipalities and stakeholders lack knowledge and incentives to invest in sustainable and innovative solutions.