The first volume of the United Nations’ Global Compact Cities Programme has been published.  You can read the whole document by clicking here.  The program, which currently has forty cities participating, is a broad-reaching effort that acknowledges the increasing urbanization of our planet and explores ways of managing that fact.  It explores the four areas of human rights, labor rights, environment and anti-corruption and arrives at ten principles as a guiding framework.

In the wake of our historic flood here in Nashville, one item caught my eye in the report and that was the city of Milwaukee’s efforts to manage freshwater.  Upon embarking on this effort, they discovered that there were  some 120 agencies, businesses, non-profits and the like exploring the management, treatment and delivery of freshwater in a city of 680,000 souls.  This type of wasted effort abounds everywhere, including right here in our fair city.

Metro Nashville waste water treatment facility

Looking at water alone, we have the Cumberland River Compact, the Urban Land Institute, the Cumberland Region Tomorrow,  the Civic Design Center and numerous other outside agencies looking at growth patterns and the necessary infrastructure that will be required to sustain our population.   Not to mention the noble work being done by our Metropolitan Planning Organization and the numerous government agencies all working on the same topics.  Perhaps in the wake of the flood, we need to take a more regional look at our systems and look to create more interconnectivity across city/county/regional lines.  We have the added layer of heavy Federal involvement through such entities as the Army Corps of Engineers.

Certainly there is an opportunity for public/private partnership structures to address current and future needs.  There also needs to be a more centralized operational and communications structure for the government entities.  While no one can anticipate an act of God (like a stationary weather front that drops 18″ of water on you!), we can start to put in place the framework to minimize the toll of future events. Government working together with non-profits and bringing in the best and brightest minds from business in a cooperative framework is a good place to start.  Perhaps it’s time for Nashville to become a participatory city in the Sustainable Cities Programme?

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