The Natural Edge Project The Natural Advantage of Nations Whole System Design Factor 5 Cents and Sustainability Higher Education and Sustainable Development

"The TNEP book, The Natural Advantage of Nations, will be a very useful educational tool for government and industry in showing how to make the right steps toward a sustainable economy. The Natural Advantage of Nations will provide a graphic and compelling view of the kind of future we all might have if we truly commit to achieving sustainable development."
Dr John Cole, Environmental Protection Agency Queensland

The Natural Advantage of Nations (Vol. I): Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century


Section 4: Sustainable Cities - the Challenge of the 21st Century

1 Governance of municipalities: a snapshot of sustainable development in China Mark Diesendorf
2 The Goa 2100 Project: a breakthrough project from India Alan AtKisson

Reference List from the Book

Sample of Resources to Support Chapter 16

Leading Programs

The main part of Chapter 16 was written by Alan AtKisson, adapted from project documents produced by the Goa 2100 Team including Aromar Revi, Rahul Mehrotra, Sanjay Prakash and GK Bhat. Speaking of the project Alan AtKisson said 'Goa 2100 is truly a breakthrough project, with many design features and analytical elements that must be studied closely to be understood and appreciated. I should note that I served on the project's Board of Advisors, reviewed some of their technical work, and assisted with the writing and editing of their final presentation to the Jury at the World Gas Convention. However, my role in the project was very small, and I performed these services voluntarily, as did nearly all of the members of the design team as well, who deserve to go far with this work. Goa 2100 marks that rare coming together of enormous professional competence and creativity with the passion to make a positive difference, the very definition of a labour of love.'

Alan AtKisson, President and CEOof AtKisson Inc
Alan AtKisson is the author of the popular

1999 book Believing Cassandra: An Optimist

Looks at a Pessimist's World.

In the year 2000, the International Gas Union (IGU) boldly decided to 'explore the future of cities and urban communities in the next one hundred years.' The IGU commissioned a multi-million dollar international competition on Sustainable Urban Systems Design (SUSD), with winners to be decided at the World Gas Congress 2003, in Tokyo.

Competitors were instructed to:


- develop a clear vision of sustainable cities;

- provide process proposals for the transformation of existing cities into sustainable cities over a period of a century; and

- recommend how energy systems (and gas) could contribute to urban sustainability.

Ten Finalists were chosen from among 60 national teams, and the Finalist projects were awarded approximately US$75,000 each to further develop their design proposals and participate in international meetings during the course of two years. A blue-ribbon international jury of seven well-recognized experts and sustainability leaders was assembled to guide the process and review the proposals, culminating with a presentation in Tokyo and the awarding of prizes. Goa 2100's award, (one of three Special Jury Awards, with the overall winner being Vancouver, Canada), was earned on the basis of the extraordinary creativity and intellectual rigour of the model. The prize was earned despite the fact that the Indian team had far fewer resources than other teams. For example, the US entry had a budget of US$5 million, raised from a variety of sources, while the Indian team was limited to the original US$75,000 grant from the competition organizers, and the 'sweat equity' of the team members. The team behind Goa 2100 and the RUrbanism design framework was pulled together from some of India's most innovative design and consulting firms, with experience all over the country, and supported by a network of volunteer international advisers. The team chose the small state of Goa, a former Portuguese colony on India's west coast, because of its already good quality of life and relatively high levels of human development. The city of Panjim also reflects many of the common challenges faced by India's growing cities, whilst also having the resources, governance culture, and institutional base that make sustainability transition a clear possibility.


Leading Programs

UN Sustainable Cities Program

The Sustainable Cities Programme (SCP) is a joint UN-HABITAT/UNEP facility for building capacities in urban environmental planning and management. They write that, "The programme is founded on broad-based cross-sectoral and stakeholder participatory approaches. It contributes to promoting urban environmental governance processes, as a basis for achieving sustainable urban growth and development. Currently, the SCP operates in 20 main demonstration and 25 replicating cities around the world, including cities in China, Chile, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Korea, Malawi, Nigeria , the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia. Preparatory activities are underway in Lesotho , South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam, whilst countries such as Bahrein, Cameroon, Iran, Kenya and Rwanda have shown interest."

View Website


UN Habitat: Best Practise in Sustainable Settlements Database

This UN Habitat database features solutions to everyday social, economic and environmental problems in a rapidly urbanising world. More than 1500 case studies from 140 countries demonstrate proven ways in which public, private and civil society sectors are working together to improve governance, eradicate poverty, provide housing, land and basic services, protect the environment and support economic development.

View Website


2003 Sustainable Cities International Gas Union competition

Winner: Canada , Vancouver

In 2003, Canada was awarded the grand prize in an international competition for urban sustain-ability. Canada 's entry citiesPLUS (or cities Planning for Long-term Urban Sustainability) developed a 100-year sustainability plan for Vancouver in a project that involved 500 experts and participants from 30 cities across Canada. This 2-year exercise culminated in Team Canada being awarded the Grand Prix at the international Sustainable Urban Systems Design competition in Tokyo, June 2003. Since the win, the citiesPLUS legacies continue to live on through a number of activities and initiatives coordinated by the original partners.

View Website |Purchase the CD


Submissions of the finalists from 9 countries

View Web site


Outline of the competition

View pdf


Australian Federal Government Inquiry into sustainable cities

On 8 August, 2003, the Minister for Environment and Heritage announced that a committee was to inquire into the development of sustainable cities.

Discussion paper (PDF 92KB) or (Word 176KB)

Schedule of public hearings (and transcripts) | Inquiry update

Further Links


The Planning Institute of Australia 's sustainable cities submission

View PDF 



References from the Book

1. Brain, P. (1999) Beyond Meltdown: The Global Battle for Sustained Growth, Scribe Publishing , Australia.

2. Ibid

3. Newsweek (2003)

4. O'Meara Sheehan, M. (1999) Reinventing Cities for People and the Planet, Worldwatch Paper 147, Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC, pp14-15; includes updates from United Nations (2000) World Urbanization Prospects: The 1999 Revision, UN, New York.

5. Newman, P. and Kenworthy, J. (1999) Sustainability and Cities, Island Press, Washington, DC.

6. Ibid

7. The principle source is a detailed paper on methodology, from which Alan AtKisson has drawn significant portions of the text, but it has also relied on presentation files, statements of design principles and spreadsheets, together with long conversations. From these sources, Alan has endeavoured to distil the most important features of Goa 2100 for general readers, but it is impossible to do this project justice in a text this short. This part serves only as a general introduction; the serious reader or engaged professional is referred to the original documents, and the members of the design team.

8. Alexander, C., Ishikawa, S. and Silverstein, M. (1977) A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, prepared with Jacobson, M., Fiksdahl-King, I. and Angel, S., Oxford University Press, Oxford.