Beyond mobility? Somewhere versus anywhere

20 marras 2018
Iina Sankala

In this blog series, we catch a glimpse of the BEMINE scenario work led by Joe Ravetz from the University of Manchester, Centre for Urban Resilience & Energy. With Integrated Envisions we aim at new insights which are beyond current trends or the results of any one study or field. These short stories are formed from the ‘baseline envisions’ developed by knowledge-mapping and co-design. This came from the creative ideas of the BEMINE partners, in workshops from 2017-2018, to explore newly emerging futures.

There are powerful forces for globalization and networking, but also powerful reactions towards local economies and landscapes. It seems there is a human need for locality, local environments and local communities: and if these needs are not met they can break out in populist or nationalist movements, bringing social division and economic harm.

The localism principle is supported by well-meaning policies and plans, and by expert advice from researchers. But there are tensions and contradictions between a local and a globalized economy: a ‘somewhere’ community versus a mobile ‘anywhere’ society, where the forces pushing outwards are more powerful than those pulling in. There are emerging global platform economies, advanced VR and robotics, high speed responsive travel systems, decentralized infrastructure, and diffused social and family structures. All these point towards a future of ad-hoc low-density urban sprawl, populated by transients and migrant workers.

What is the dynamic? Environmental values and qualities bring the local into focus, but they are equally used to attract global mobile workers and residents. Economic forces push toward globalized markets and networks, but there are opposite pulls towards local economies and social enterprise. Political and policy systems try to respond, via multi-level governance and citizen participation, but the structures are not well suited to the problems. Tensions between locality and mobility define the urban agenda, which is on policy challenges for sustainable settlements. The urban development metabolism is seen as a processor of value-added, moving up the value hierarchy, towards globalized gravity fields for skilled labour and consumer markets.

What are the challenges? Since there are new patterns of growth and decline, urban policy faces more than one ‘Nexus’ of tensions and dilemmas: There are tensions between migration and mobility, linking local jobs to local people, and the role of the multi-local educated, creative and globalized classes. Policy-makers have to deal with conflicting interests between greenspace and urban zone policy and the regional imbalances of skills and investment.

Joe Ravetz, University of Manchester, Centre for Urban Resilience & Energy

Got interested? Come visit us at the open house poster session in the upcoming Urban Forum V 23.11.2018! These are also some of the most relevant topics in this Envision:


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