Sustainable City 2017
12th International Conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability
18 - 20 September, 2017
The 12th International Conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability took place in Seville, Spain and was organised by Wessex Institute, UK, represented by Prof Carlos A Brebbia, and the University of Seville, represented by Prof Juan Jose Sendra.
The meeting was sponsored by WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, and the International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning.
The Sustainable City 2017 conference followed a series of very successful meetings that started in Rio (2000), followed by Segovia (2002), Siena (2004), Tallinn (2006), Skiathos (2008), A Coruña (2010), Ancona (2012), Kuala Lumpur (2013), Siena (2014), Medellin (2015) and Alicante (2016).
Seville was a very suitable location for this meeting as the city has been the place for policies related to sustainability for many years. Specifically in the year 1992, when a Universal Exhibition was held in Seville, many measures were taken to make the location of the exhibition as sustainable as possible.
The city is almost 2200 years old and has a distinct personality and a large and well-preserved historical centre. The old town contains three world heritage sites: the Minaret of La Giralda, the General Archives of the Indies and the Alcazar Palace. The city is also home to many convents, churches, palaces, museums and public gardens.
The meeting always attracts a substantial number of contributions from different backgrounds and countries. The variety of topics and experiences is one of the main reasons behind the success of the series.
Urban areas result in a series of environmental challenges varying from the consumption of natural resources and the subsequent generation of waste and pollution, contributing to the development of social and economic imbalances. As cities continue to grow all over the world, these problems tend to become more acute and require the development of new solutions.
The challenge of planning sustainable contemporary cities lies in considering the dynamics of urban systems, exchange of energy and matter, and the function and maintenance of ordered structures directly or indirectly supplied and maintained by natural systems. The task of researchers, aware of the complexity of the contemporary city, is to improve the capacity to manage human activities, pursuing welfare and prosperity in the urban environment. Any investigation or planning of a city ought to consider the relationships between the parts and their connections with the living world. The dynamics of its networks (flows of energy matter, people, goods, information and other resources) are fundamental for an understanding of the evolving nature of today’s cities.
Opening the Conference
The conference was opened by Santiago Hernandez, member of the Board of Directors of the Wessex Institute. On behalf of Professor Carlos A Brebbia he welcomed the delegates, explained the objectives of the meeting and mentioned that the quality of the papers accepted was a promise of a brilliant event. Then he gave a presentation of the Wessex Institute detailing the broad range of activities that include research projects on different topics, publication of journals on several scientific and social fields, and the large experience in the organisation of international conferences. These conferences contribute very efficiently in bringing together relevant specialists from academia and industry that present the most up to date achievements for the benefit of the delegates.
All papers are archived in the eLibrary of the Institute (www.witpress.com/elibrary) where they are easily accessible to the international community in Open Access format.
WIT originated from a research group from the University of Southampton and it is considered the creator of the boundary elements method, a numerical technique initially devoted to engineering analysis but due to the enhancements produced by the Institute can be used nowadays for a vast range of practical applications.
Santiago also explained that WIT welcomes postdoctoral researchers who can spend an academic year in the Institute working on their projects and benefiting from the excellent facilities and the peaceful and beautiful surroundings of the Institute.
The meeting contained a series of sessions in which the papers were grouped, ie:
• Urban strategies
• Urban metabolism
• Architectural issues
• Sustainable energy and the city
• Quality of life
• The community and the city
• Case studies
• Risk analysis
• Urban transport
• Urban conservation and regeneration
• Waste management
• Environmental management
• Cultural heritage sites
• Spatial conflict and in the city
• Planning, development and management
The conference programme included a series of keynote addresses delivered by well-known colleagues, ie:
• “Anticipating a fluid, dynamic interiority”, by Andrew Furman, Ryerson University, Canada.
• “Accelerating urban transition: an approach to greening the built environment”, by Danila Longo, University of Bologna, Italy.
• “Architecture as traffic generator: reducing inhabitants’ travels and traffic related emissions”, by Roberto Barelkowski, West-Pomeranian University of Technology, Poland.
• “Use of wastes from the peanut industry in the manufacture of building materials”, by Nancy Quaranta, National Technological University, Argentina.
• “Multidimensional characterization of the regional urban sprawl in Valencia”, by José Luis Miralles i Garcia, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain.
An event of particular importance during the conference was the award of the 2017 Prigogine Medal.
The ceremony was opened by the Chancellor of the University of Seville, Prof Miguel A Castro, and then the Director of the School of Architecture, Prof Francisco Montero, welcomed the delegates and expressed their satisfaction for having been chosen to hold such a prestigious event. Afterwards, Prof Santiago Hernandez, Chairman of the conference, on behalf of Prof Carlos Brebbia, Director of WIT, explained that the Prigogine Medal honours the memory of the late Professor Ilya Prigogine, winner of the Nobel Prize of Chemistry. It was established in the year 2004 by the University of Siena and the Wessex Institute of Technology and is given annually to a renowned scientist in the field of ecological systems.
Ilya Prigogine was born in Moscow in 1917 and obtained his undergraduate and graduate education in Chemistry at the Free University in Brussels.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, particularly the theory of dissipative structures. The main theme of his scientific work was the role of time in the physical sciences and biology. He contributed significantly to the understanding of irreversible processes, particularly in systems far from equilibrium. The results of his work have had profound consequences for understanding biological and ecological systems.
Prigogine’s ideas established the basis of ecological systems research. The Prigogine medal to honour his memory is awarded annually to a leading scientist in the field of ecological systems. All recipients have been deeply influenced by Prigogine’s work.
The recipient of the 2017 Award was Prof João Carlos Marques from the University of Coimbra, Portugal.
João Carlos Marques studied at the University of Lisbon, where he received a graduate degree in biology in 1980.
From early on, he was intrigued by scientific research, particularly in the field of marine biology and ecology, and thus pursued his academic studies, earning a PhD in ecology from the University of Coimbra in 1989, where subsequently he became Assistant Professor. Pursuing his academic career, he obtained an Associate Professor position in 2000, and came to be Full Professor in 2004.
Marine and estuarine ecology have since then been his core area of research, and he soon developed an interest in aquatic ecosystems in general, as well as on their interface with terrestrial ecosystems, always focusing on the study of ecological processes and their characterisation, quantification and modelling. Data and concepts integration gradually led to a broader view of sustainability problems of both natural and human built systems, namely focusing on the ecosystems services approach and on the development and application of suitable ecological indicators of ecosystems health and performance.
Since 1990 he has coordinated 21 large research projects both funded by Portuguese Agencies and the European Union, and has also participated as a member of the research team in 20 others.
Additionally, he played a key role in creating new research infrastructures at Portuguese national level, namely acting as general coordinator of a “Pilot network for integrated long-term observation and research on Coastal Systems and Hydrographical Basins”.
Such intensive scientific activity allowed him to develop a large network of international cooperation with top scientists and research institutions, which is expressed in his scientific productivity.
He has authored or co-authored more than 250 scientific papers in international referred journals, six books and 17 book chapters. Moreover, he has supervised the research work of many PhD students in Portugal and abroad.
Prof João Carlos Marques then delivered his inaugural address entitled “Coastal systems in transition: The game of possibilities for sustainability under global climate change”.
His talk discussed the stress on coastal systems:
Marine environments, namely coastal systems, are in severe decline, mainly as a result of over-exploitation, pollution and indirect impacts of climate change. This has given rise to an increasing awareness of the profound impact of humans on the behaviour of ecosystems and, consequently, to the need for approaches capable of sustaining and repairing them.
The increase of stress-induced changes in marine environments has required the development of different managing tools, namely indicators that allow the early detection and evaluation of environmental responses to pollution effects at different levels of organisation, and predictive models to avoid or, at least, mitigate negative impacts from human activities. The quest for ecological sustainability and sustainable development, which depends on numerous driving forces, frequently opposing each other, remains a crucial challenge.
Three major drivers can be identified: the search for human well-being in its several facets, the conservation of environmental equilibrium, essential to ecological sustainability, and the systems’ resilience in the face of increasing human pressure, resulting from population growth and demand for prosperity. Sustainable management may then be described as achieving a balance between delivering the economic services provided by the environment, which are required for societal well-being, while maintaining and protecting the ecological systems, taking into account time, relationships and biophysical limits.
Sustainable environmental management involves complex conceptual problems and can only be attained in terms of a multidisciplinary approach. This approach should be environmentally and ecologically sustainable, economically viable, technologically feasible, socially desirable or, at least, tolerable, administratively achievable, legally permissible and politically expedient. In this endeavour, problems must be addressed in the light of systems ecology principles because ecosystems are complex adaptive systems, characterised by historical dependency, nonlinear dynamics, threshold effects, multiple basins of attraction and limited predictability.
The Conference Banquet took place at El Patio Sevillano, a place that combines a restaurant and a flamenco folklore show. Thus, the delegates, in addition to having a taste of the typical Andalusian gastronomy, enjoyed a performance with singers, guitar players and flamenco dancers. The quality of the show and the amusing atmosphere of the site helped to strengthen the links amongst the conference attendees.
The Conference was closed by Prof Santiago Hernandez, on behalf of Prof Carlos A Brebbia, co-Chairman of the event and Director of the Wessex Institute. He thanked the delegates for their contribution to the success of the meeting.
• Eco-Architecture 2018, 2 - 4 October, 2018, The New Forest, UK
• Energy Quest 2018, 10 - 12 September, 2018, The New Forest, UK
• Sustainable Development and Planning 2018, 4 - 6 September, 2018, Siena, Italy
• Urban Agriculture 2018, 9 - 11 October, 2018, The New Forest, UK