Bangkok on track for more green spaces with park on old train line

Sky park shows how space-starved cities can repurpose unused land for green spaces that can ease the effects of climate change

By Rina Chandran

The Phra Pok Klao Sky Park in Bangkok, which is scheduled to open later this month, connects neighbourhoods on either side of the Chao Phraya river and was built on an elevated rail line that lay unused for more than three decades.

“It is an example of how to repurpose an abandoned structure and increase green spaces in Bangkok through cost-effective design,” said Niramon Serisakul, director of Urban Design and Development Center, a consultancy that led the project.

“It may not be large, but it has outsized importance as a catalyst for urban regeneration, and can change the way people look at public spaces,” she said.

It is an example of how to repurpose an abandoned structure and increase green spaces in Bangkok through cost-effective design

“The effects of climate change are being felt more, so we need more green spaces,” Asawin Kwanmuang, governor of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, said at a ceremony to plant trees ahead of the park’s opening.

“Our goal is to increase green space in Bangkok from about 6 square metres (65 sq ft) per person to 9 square metres per person. At the same time, we want to reduce the number of cars and make the city more walkable,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The park, measuring 280 metres by 8 metres, makes it easier for residents to access nearby schools, markets and places of worship, said Niramon.

At the same time, we want to reduce the number of cars and make the city more walkable.

The goal is to replicate Paris’s “15-minute city”, where people can reach their destination within 15 minutes of walking, cycling or using mass transit, she said.

Bangkok’s new sky park can be a model for swathes of unused land under the city’s expressways, said landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom, who was involved in the project.

Parks and rooftop gardens can reduce air pollution and harmful emissions, and also limit flooding, said Kotchakorn, who has designed a rooftop farm and park that can retain water.

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Budapest on the move – A sustainable Urban Mobility Transformation

With cities having temporarily reorganised their city centres with pop-up biking lanes and car-free streets due to the COVID-19 crisis, many citizens have claimed the new space for walking and cycling. The measures provided many urban dwellers with their first glimpse on what urban mobility in the greener and more resilient cities of the future could look like.

A scenario Urban-LEDS city Budapest has long been working to realise by advancing its sustainable mobility plan. Reason enough to take a look at some of Budapest’s actions to square the minimum pollution – maximum mobility circle connecting its 1.7 million citizens across a 525 km² territory.

Pursuing excellence

Like for many cities, Budapest’s efforts take root in the need to reduce emissions from road transport, while at the same time expanding its public transport system – currently composed of four metro lines, five railways, 33 tramlines and 279 bus lines – to accommodate the needs of a growing population. A process of anticipating the mobility needs of generations to come, while planning, designing, constructing and interconnecting different means of (public) transport integratively and effectively in the now. A process of such complexity and impact on the daily operations and sustainability of the city, that it prompted Budapest officials to create the BKK, a specialised centre to drive the process. Brought to life as a centre of excellence for transport in 2011, the BKK addresses key aspects of urban mobility ever since.

Budapest’s efforts take root in the need to reduce emissions from road transport, while at the same time expanding its public transport system

As such the BKK was responsible for the development of a new Mobility Plan to modernise transportation system in line with the guidelines issued by the European Commission for developing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMP) and the city’s climate resilience and adaptation plan. The BKK included more than 200 institutions in the preparation of the plan to analyse key mobility problems in the city, including a one-year public consultation process. In promoting more connections, more attractive, environmentally friendly, comfortable vehicles and technologies, better service, and more efficient governance, regulations and cooperation, the plan is to deliver on ensuring a liveable urban development with a safe, reliable and dynamic transportation system. For this purpose, the SUMP has been integrated into the Budapest 2030 Development plan and echoes the targets of Hungary’s National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) requiring the country to reduce emissions by 40% (to 1990 levels) until 2030.

The BKK included more than 200 institutions in the preparation of the plan to analyse key mobility problems in the city, including a one-year public consultation process.

According to Eurobarometer and the European Cyclist Federation, around 22% of the population opt for cycling frequently to get to work. Only the Dutch and Danes are cycling more on a regular basis in Europe. Budapest is embracing and promoting this potential further via campaigns like “I bike Budapest” and its longstanding participation in European wide initiatives such as European Mobility Week. The city’s 200 km of bike routes are making it one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe, tying in well with its emission reduction targets.

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Living the affordable energy transition dream: How Aalborg is advancing to become fossil fuel free by 2050

Aiming to become 100% fossil fuel free by 2050, Aalborg’s ~220,000 citizens are no strangers to a set of ambitious initiatives. Below, we will explore some of the key aspects that are enabling Denmark’s third largest municipality to transition towards a carbon free future!

The Danish Example – (District) energy efficiency first

a mix of renewable heat and cold sources, including local biomass, wind, solar, heat pumps, waste and geothermal heat, as well as an envisaged total of 40-50% in energy savings is foreseen to bring down emissions from the network in the future. Aalborg network companies are thus required to increase energy savings by approximately 2% in supply annually. While the costs of the conversion are expected to stay in line with those of the current system, additional investments are foreseen to go into energy conservation and increasing efficiency in coming years.

Aalborg network companies are thus required to increase energy savings by approximately 2% in supply annually.

All on board for the green transition

For a fossil free Aalborg 2050, the municipality approaches and promotes its energy transition as an integral part of a wider Sustainability Strategy. Already back in 1994 the city approved the Aalborg Charter during the first Sustainable Cities and Towns conference, as its political framework for sustainable development. By that Aalborg not only prepared the ground for a variety of European movements, such as the Aalborg Commitments and the Sustainable Cities Platform, but also set a trend for its local transition. The current strategy was formulated in close consultation with citizens, civil society, educational institutions, business and industry, with the aim to make sustainability an accepted principle in private, professional and public life of Aalborg’s citizens.

The central point for Aalborg’s cooperation with business and citizens is the Centre for Green Transition created in 2013. The center is an umbrella organisation for sustainability projects and partnerships, supporting initiatives such as a Green Agents program and a Green Shops scheme to embed sustainability in daily life.

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