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Resilient solutions to tough problems

By Pablo Schaer: International Project Designer and former Professor at the University of Buenos Aires

Urban Planning on Sustainability and Resilience has become a necessity and a key concept to be empowered by our global professional community.

Pablo Schaer

For many years, as conscious professionals, we’ve been focusing on many positive aspects, that communities are now embracing to reverse the effects of climate change. Unfortunately, the efforts made to date are not enough to fight the scaled degradation. Today, urban planning needs to focus on improving life-quality through sustainability, and it must achieve it in more difficult times, where resources will be even more scarce.

As an architect living in Florida, an area severely punished by hurricanes every year, you can’t avoid planning on sustainability and resilience. Florida’s shores and all Caribbean sea-coasts territories, are recurrently affected by drastic effects of nature. Hurricanes and tropical storms are increasing in number and power, but at the same time, population has increased in those affected areas with insufficient resources and a lack of infrastructure to cope with the resulting impact.

To make it worse, large communities below the poverty line, are those groups most affected by severe weather conditions, even in large cities like Miami, New Orleans, Houston and San Juan in Puerto Rico. Hurricanes, floods and landslides have been devastating, the results catastrophic and aftermath both painful and costly.

The Caribbean is rich in resources that can support efforts to rebuild communities. It is an area where the sun, rain, wind and currents provide perfect conditions to generate clean power. While it is strategically located to export products all over the world and restore productivity and incomes after each event. But for that to happen, it has to build the appropriate infrastructure.

Today, there are no more excuses. There are existing deployable and sizable projects, like indoor farming and urban eco-centers, which can change the life of entire communities and prevent the suffering of billions globally.

Many improvements are achievable with production processes based entirely on the collection, purification and recycling of rainwater; affordable and clean energies generation, with the power and water surplus also sent to local networks. Resilient structures could serve as shelters, but also provide food, drinking water, energy and jobs to those affected communities, not only foreseeing consumption during an emergency, but also helping to recover in the aftermath.

With that in mind, it should be our commitment to help communities deal with the effects of catastrophic weather events, by reinforcing aspects that consolidate economic growth of sustainable and resilient cities.

It is our responsibility to enlighten others, about those concepts we’ve been developing for some time now, but that are still new for most people. We need to empower communities, leaders and urban authorities to adopt those concepts and develop the necessary infrastructure to face recurrent natural disasters.  At the same time, we can also help meet many of the United Nations’s goals, like Poverty & Hunger “0”, by creating real jobs and producing healthy food without damaging the land, improving also health and wellbeing with organic, nutritious foods, clean air, water and new urban green spaces.

The Caribbean is clearly not the only affected area, nor the most populated seacoasts around the globe. There are many increasingly populated areas around the world, affected by recurrent catastrophic events, land destruction and extreme poverty.  These same effects occurs in many coastal regions between tropics around the world. India and South East Asia’s coast in general, but also African and South America’s tropical mountain regions too.

Hurricanes, monsoons, floods and earthquakes are devastating. It is in our hands to empower resilient projects that can positively affect the life of billions globally.

About the Author

Pablo Schaer is an Argentine Architect, internationally recognised for his ability to manage leading roles in diverse projects with a common denominator: advanced technology applied to architecture & design. He made his name in South America, Asia and the US, working on different aspects of the design and development of many prime innovative projects over the past 25 years. From high-rises, office buildings and hotel resorts, to eco-veterinary facilities, embryo transfer laboratories and sustainable urban ECO-Centers.

As Project Design Director for the ALOHAS ECO-Center, he stands as project leader for the architectural & engineering coordination, bringing on board innovative solutions and unique techniques, in a management role leading an international team of experts in the design and future construction of this fabulous green facility.

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