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Smart Growth is smart business

Smart Growth is smart business

28 July 2004

Ensuring our cities remain economically competitive in the twenty-first century will be challenging. A visiting speaker from the United States advises against urban obesity.

With technology overcoming the distance barrier and new competition from developing countries, western cities are looking for new ways to remain economically competitive. Christine Whitman stated that many innovative cities in the western world have begun asking the hard questions about themselves and discovered that inefficiency in their urban form was contributing to uncompetitiveness in their economy.

Christine Whitman is a former Governor of New Jersey - a state with twice the population of New Zealand - and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a position similar to New Zealand’s Minister for the Environment.

Here to speak to a range of audiences in Auckland and Wellington at the invitation of the Auckland Regional Council, Governor Whitman observed that being smarter about moving people and goods is at the heart of the latest urban trends and is having economic spin-offs. ‘Smart Growth’ has become the centre of attention for smart business.

Governor Whitman has had plenty of experience with urban growth and economic prosperity: “The east coast of the United States has had to confront both population growth and economic competitiveness issues. Some of the most innovative cities are combining both these challenges in one solution and calling it ‘Smart Growth’ said Governor Whitman.

Whitman says that ‘Smart Growth’ is essentially urban form serving people, not the other way around. “When a city reaches the point where a significant proportion of its wealth is lost in congestion and quality of life is compromised by pollution, then it’s time to rethink how our cities are designed and run. Limiting urban sprawl is certainly a good place to start, but encouraging a range of transport modes through efficient land-use also improves the city’s overall efficiency.”

“Many US cities are overweight – bulging at the edges and unfit as a result. Cities that follow a land-use diet of selective intensification are likely to have a competitive edge in the twenty-first century in terms of both quality of life and economic performance.”

ARC Chair Gwen Bull, says that she was pleased to hear that the Auckland region was in such good company in its efforts to pay more attention to land-use efficiency. “Speaking to Governor Whitman makes me feel proud that the region is effectively a world leader in urban planning, especially since adopting the Auckland Regional Growth Strategy five years ago.”

Governor Whitman is in New Zealand from the 27 to the 30 July, and is sharing her experience with audiences interested in urban growth and environmental protection including the Auckland Regional Growth Forum, Mayoral Forum, Minister for the Environment, business leaders and the Auckland Regional Council.

ENDS

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