Urban Reforestation World Expo Shanghai 2010

In September, the Managing Director of Urban Reforestation, Emily Ballantyne-Brodie was invited to attend the Better City Better Life CUMULUS Design Conference at the World Expo in Shanghai. The theme of the World Expo 2010 is Better City, Better Life. Emily reports back on her visit.

The Expo stimulates thought and action to promote ecologically responsible lifestyles and sustainable development as 55 per cent of the worlds‟ population has already become an 'urban civilisation'. The exhibition, was the largest World Exhibition ever held, serves as a platform for cross-cultural dialogue and cooperation and as a centre of innovation and interaction. Participants and visitors are exposed to new habitats, lifestyles and working conditions in order to find new approaches for building better cities and therefore better lives.

Emily delivered a paper about Urban Reforestation and how social innovation and sustainability is a way to a better city and better life. She was invited to sit on the Working Group focussing on Sustainability with experts from around the world. After the two talks she was asked many questions about Urban Reforestation and people expressed their enthusiasm and intrigue for the project particularly for the fact the it is a collaborative project (meaning it has many partners from government, business and community), there is an interdisciplinary team and how the project is able to engage people in sustainable living and creating their own social innovations towards sustainable urban living.

People were very interested in how much of the theory around sustainability can be applied very successfully in practice. She is "very proud of Urban Reforestation and our team and how we have created a tangible example of sustainable living in an urban context".

There were some insightful conversations around social innovation and design for sustainability. Some of the major themes and outcomes from the conference included: .  A discussion on the importance of communities addressing sustainability in urban areas. There is a need for hubs and learning centres to enable communities to take action. .    There is a very strong trend towards many social actors moving outside mainstream models of thinking and just „doing‟, in turn this has led to promising and creative projects such as community supported agriculture, car- pooling, community gardens, Local Energy Trading Schemes (LETS) and Transition Towns. .   Why the co-design process is integral to making projects happen. We are moving into a new wave of design that means the “designer” of the future is a “facilitator”, “inspirer” and “enabler” of the design process. . The DESIS network which has been created by Ezio Manzini which is interested in promoting and supporting design for social innovation and sustainability. Emily thinks this is an important network to follow that will help to inspire this new wave of design for sustainable living.

The conference was a great success. Urban Reforestation feels motivated and can see we are on the way to collectively making positive changes all around the world. Melbourne is an important place and with its models can lead the way in the sustainable design sector. In Melbourne and Australia we are fortunate to have the wealth and openness to try new ways of creating and design. Therefore we have a great opportunity to create changes towards sustainable living and „spark‟ new social enterprises, social innovation and the restorative economy.

For more information visit: http://www.cumulusassociation.org