Sustainable urban futures: Towards the Integrated Planning of the Urban and the Rural

Hans van Ginkel,

This lecture was contributed as a keynote to a recent conference,
organized by TWAS (the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World and
the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, December 2010. The theme of
this conference was: Coping with Climate and Environmental Change to
Promote Sustainable Development).

The Future of Humankind will be an Urban Future. That is inevitable and in
principle the only way to guarantee a better, sustainable future for all
humankind. Development contributes to a productive agriculture and over
time less people will be employed in agriculture. Other economic
activities must be developed to guarantee a higher living standard. And
people will move to the urban areas. However, these urban areas must be
developed in a different way! Pro-active planning can help create new
urban conglomerates in which the urban and the rural can be integrated.
This goes well beyond the introduction of urban agriculture: it is about
bringing the rural to the city and the urban to the countryside.

The cities do not have to be the major examples of an unsustainable
future. Quite to the contrary: it is only with cities that we can achieve
a really sustainable future. Why and how to do it? That is what will be
discussed in this lecture.

About the speaker
Hans van Ginkel was Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Rector of the United Nations University, Tokyo, from 1997 to 2007 and the Rector Magnificus of Utrecht University, the Netherlands from 1986 to 1997. From 1980 to 1985 he was a full professor of ‘Human Geography and Planning’ and Dean of the Faculty of Geographical Sciences, also of ‘Utrecht’. Since 2007 he is a professor emeritus in the Faculty of Geosciences. He is a Honorary President of the International Association of Universities, Paris, since 2004. He was trained as a human geographer, historian and cultural anthropologist and his fields of specialization are urban and regional development, population, housing (public housing and housing markets) and environment; in particular also in the former socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the developing countries. His other areas of interest include: internationalization, university management and science policy. He has published widely on these issues and has contributed extensively to the work of various international organizations. He was, for instance, the President of the International Geographical Congress of the International Geographical Union (IGU) in The Hague, 1996, on ‘Land, Sea and the Human Effort’. For his many contributions to the development of geography in the Netherlands and beyond, the Royal Netherlands Geographic Society (KNAG) awarded him the precious Plancius Medal (2001). Hans van Ginkel was among others also a member of the Board of the European University Association (CRE, Geneva 1989-1998, vice-president 1994-98); a member of the Board of the International Association of Universities (IAU, Paris 1990-2008, vice-president 1995-2000 and president 2000-04); and the West-European member in the Steering Group organizing UNESCO's World Conference on Higher Education (Paris, 1998). His specific responsibility was to organize the thematic debate on ‘Higher Education and Sustainable (Human) Development’. Since this WCHE he has been particularly active in education with regard to 'Dialogue among Civilizations' and 'Sustainable Development', as well as in the follow-up of the conference. In the Netherlands he was among others the chair, first of the scientific advisory council and then the governing board of the ‘Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute’ (NIDI, The Hague, 1988-1998); a member and then the chair of the governing board of the ‘International Training Centre for the Geo-information Sciences and Remote Sensing’ (ITC, Enschede, 1988-1998). He was the treasurer of NUFFIC, the Netherlands’ Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education from 1986 to 1997. He was the chair of the Coordinating Committee of the (trilateral) Councils on Science Policy (COS, 1991-1998); a member of the National Foresight Committee on Science Policy (1993-1998) and of the European Science and Technology Assembly (1994-1998). Since 2007 he is the chair of the Board of the ‘Institute for Social Studies’ (ISS, The Hague) and since 2006 the chair of the Board of the ‘Centre for Development Research’ (ZEF) in Bonn, Germany. Since 2006 he is also a member of the Council of the ‘International Committee on Dryland Development’ and since 2009 a member of the Board of Trustees of the ‘Bibliotheca Alexandrina’ in Egypt. From 1989 to 1993 he was the independent chair of the Regional Council of Utrecht (RBU), which brings the City of Utrecht together with 11 neighboring municipalities and the Province of Utrecht. This Regional Council developed a physical plan for the central part of the Netherlands, which is now being implemented. Hans van Ginkel received the Medal of the Utrecht Chamber of Commerce in 1993; and the golden Medal of the City of Utrecht in 1997. for his contributions to the City and the Region. In 1994 Queen Beatrix honored him with the ‘Knight of the Netherlands' Lion’. He holds a Ph.D. (summa) cum laude from Utrecht University (1979) and honorary doctorates from Universitatea Babes-Bolyai, Cluj, Romania (1997), the University of California, Sacramento (2003), the University of Ghana, Legon-Accra (2005), the Technical University of Zvolen, Slovakia (2006) and McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada (2007). He is a Honorary Fellow of the ‘Institute for Geo-Information Sciences and Remote Sensing’ (ITC, Enschede), 2000, and a former Vice-Chair of the Board of the ‘Asian Institute for Technology’ (Bangkok 1998-2006). He was a member of the Social Sciences Council of the Royal Netherlands’ Academy of Sciences and the Arts (KNAW, 1992-2001), and is a member of the Academia Europea (since 2001) and associate fellow of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS, since 2005). Outside the world of Academia he also received international recognition: for instance, after his return to the Netherlands he received from the emperor and the prime minister of Japan the highest possible distinction for his contributions to Japanese society: the ‘Order of the Rising Sun, Grand Cordon’ (2007).

Venue: Conference Room

Date: 23 May 2011

Time: 16:00 - 17:00


UNU-MERIT