Book News: December 5th, 2006

Editor Jesse NormanThese eight essays published by the Policy Exchange set out a range of ideas on urban policy ranging from the architecture of cities to their zoology. They are critical of current thinking. There has been a marked increase in social segregation. Urban green spaces have been seriously reduced. Poor public transport infrastructures have reinforced reliance on the car, with adverse effects. Violent crime has rocketed. Cities are less healthy, less safe and less biodiverse than they might be.

The essays are timely because in 2007 for the first time in history, human society will be predominantly urban. They argue that, measured in terms of biodiversity, the city and not the countryside is the true home of nature and that nature has a crucial role in promoting human health and well-being.

The core argument is that in free-market economies ‘green’ city policies can prime and sustain new economic development by drawing in new “value-added” service industries, whose employees both enjoy and increasingly demand a healthy city environment in which to live and to raise their families. With proper city leadership, this can then set in motion a self-reinforcing virtuous circle of further growth and further greening.

The full report is available at: http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/images/libimages/201.pdf