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15-Minute Cities: A Global Solution to Housing and Climate Crises

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Waqas Arain
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15-Minute Cities: A Global Solution to Housing and Climate Crises

The 15-minute city concept, introduced by Carlos Moreno in 2016, has been gaining global traction as an innovative solution to the housing and climate crises many urban areas face. This urban planning approach aims to provide access to housing, shopping, schools, and jobs within a 15-minute walk, bike, or transit ride. It's a potential game-changer in reshaping cities and reducing their carbon footprint.

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The Rise of 15-Minute Cities

This concept is being embraced by various cities worldwide, with urban migration driving economic prosperity in high-income nations due to efficient transport. However, the dark side of this prosperity includes congestion and unaffordability, pushing people to far suburbs or exurbs. This shift has led to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to vehicle dependency. The 15-minute city concept seeks to curb this trend by promoting sustainability and health through decentralized urban planning.

Challenges and Realities of the Concept

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Despite its potential benefits, urban planners have underlined the difficulty of ensuring everyone can live within 15 minutes of all amenities and jobs, especially in large cities. The concept also grapples with Marchetti's constant, a rule suggesting people tend to travel no more than one hour per day. This principle has historically shaped the size of cities and poses a significant challenge to the implementation of the 15-minute city concept.

The Road Ahead

Urban planner Alain Bertaud underscores the importance of mobility in urban planning to keep labor markets accessible and dynamic. Experts suggest that while the 15-minute city concept faces challenges, it is achievable with the correct distinctions and planning, particularly focusing on the transformation of first suburbs. Students Reinventing Cities, C40’s global competition, recently launched its third edition, inviting young people to reimagine urban areas and develop ideas for creating green and thriving neighborhoods. The competition focuses on various areas, including integrating the 15-minute neighborhood concept in cities like Guadalajara and Curitiba.

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