Urbanization continues, but urban can’t mean completely paved and mechanized. For protection, sustainability, and happiness, we must align our cities with the natural systems where we build. We need to be consciously designing, funding, and distributing nature in our cities. Urban trees, and nature more broadly, need to be treated as critical infrastructure for cities.
Earth already has a majority urban population. According to urban planner Peter Calthorpe, by 2050 our planet’s urban population will double. That means providing social goods and services to billions more city dwellers. How we accommodate that urban growth will say a lot about who we are and want to be. We can choose to design cities that fight climate change, instead of encouraging it.
According to Credit Suisse, up to one-quarter of U.S. malls will close by 2022. During the past 60 years, malls served as a major public commons in the U.S. The design and stewardship of commons is a crucial component of public-sector marketing. Redesigning failed shopping malls could be an huge public-sector opportunity.
Governing common shared resources such as water supplies relies on layers of resource management. Each level of management has different roles and responsibilities, from neighborhoods and cities through to regional, state, national and international governance. Currently, the way many cities approach water quality is inefficient because resource management is not regional. Water agencies ignore problems upstream, where water quality problems start. Applying funds to upstream problems is a marketing decision related to how we price our social goods. Fixing those upstream problems reduces costs downstream for water treatment.
Light pollution at night is a growing urban problem. Most of us city dwellers can no longer see the stars at night, and this will only become worse as we become more urban. Dark skies at night is a common pooled resource that we can reclaim when we reduce light pollution though proper governance of the commons.
Pricing and payments are core aspects of marketing a product or service. For public and social sector marketers, pricing isn’t always straightforward. Often the buyer isn’t the user, and the goal isn’t about making more money or beating the competition. It’s hard to put a price on open space such as watersheds and parks is hard. How do you determine a cost or value, let alone identify a buyer?
In the island paradise of Seychelles, marketers are collaborating to find a better way to price and pay for both existing national debts and new investments in commons with current funds.
According to the United Nations, a majority of the world’s population now resides in urban areas. The trend towards urbanization shows no signs of slowing, either. By 2050, two-thirds of the planet’s population will be urban. Urban areas are organically connecting into megaregions that don’t always respect existing political or natural boundaries. Marketing in megaregions demands that social and public sector marketers think in new ways about their markets.
In his new book Half Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, noted biologist E.O. Wilson outlines the possibility and benefits of setting aside half of Earth for nature. Specifically, not for people. How can we create, manage and maintain commons on this scale?