Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean

Sustainable Cities Course, 10th Edition

Date: December 6-9, 2016

Venue: Montego Bay, Jamaica

Montego Bay suffers from uncontrolled, low-density urban growth much of which faces natural hazard risk. Informal settlements across the city present safety and sanitation issues and limit the government’s financial capacity to make investments to benefit residents by reducing the property tax base. Several projects are planned to address these risks to promote resilience. The Integral Neighborhood Upgrading Program and Pilot Downtown Housing Project plans to implement physical improvements, like new or updated homes and improved or added infrastructure (paved streets, sidewalks, sewage connections, stormwater drainage, street lamps, etc.), but also through social improvements, for example, by connecting people with safety and sanitation programs or training and education programs for employment. Neighborhood upgrades will also include added outdoor recreation facilities like basketball courts and playgrounds, and open and green spaces. Sustainable transport plans to include a Railway Lane Community. This project plans to develop 7 blocks of this informal settlement for a total of 419 new housing units, plus upgrade the adjacent Charles Gordon Market. Community improvements also include landscaping, recreation and sports areas, bike lanes, eco-friendly design and design elements that may reduce the opportunity for crime.

With the objective of highlighting advancements in sustainable communities, the Organization of American States (OAS), with funding from US/OAS, in partnership with the Government of Jamaica has organized a Sustainable Cities course for a group of urban and social transformation professionals. The Sustainable Cities course provides an integral overview of the different aspects that contribute to building sustainable communities, targeting different topics emanating from the First Summit on Sustainable Development in the Americas held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in December 1996. In this context, section II.3 Sustainable Cities and Communities recognized:

  • The incorporation of the poorest and most disadvantaged sectors of the population into the productive process by, inter alia, creating jobs through public and private investment and expanding and enhancing access to credit and to environmentally sound technologies;
  • Growth in job creation in small and micro-enterprises by simplifying paperwork, bureaucracy, and operations that affect them and by promoting the economic competitiveness and environmental efficiency of these production units in urban as well as rural areas;
  • Narrowing of the housing unit gap and expansion of basic infrastructure services through a comprehensive approach to the problem of rapid urban growth, including the use of clean, safe technologies;
  • Promotion of the quality of life in cities and communities, taking into account their spatial, economic, social, and environmental circumstances; and
  • Assurance of the most efficient and least polluting industrial and transportation practices so as to reduce adverse environmental impact and promote sustainable development in cities and communities

Course Objective:

To provide theoretical and practical knowledge of the different elements that contribute to the development of sustainable cities to government officials and members of civil society involved in planning processes and urban development

Specific Objectives:

  • To provide state of the art knowledge on the set of systems involved in the urban setting combining social and physical science approaches.
  • To analyze case studies and identify best practices; and
  • To provide a first hand experience regarding the benefits of green infrastructure, energy efficiency demonstration projects and sustainable transport systems through field visits.
  • Produce through break-out groups a policy and recommendations document in each module theme

Course Methodology:

The course will include theoretical presentations that combine the professor’s input with student participation. Case studies will be presented and discussed in order to develop practical skills regarding the issues discussed. This website will provide background readings and material on each module so that students can prepare in order to enhance learning and assimilation of the program content. The course will combine theory with practical exercises in which the students will experience the content of each module applied to real life situations through lectures, readings, field trips group exercises and discussion. The course will close with a set of field trips in which students will be able to come in contact with the operations and functioning of green infrastructure, energy efficiency projects and sustainable transport.

For further information on this course please contact Richard Huber at rhuber@oas.org