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The Twenty First-Century Imperative Podcast series will explore the approaches and insights of scientists, planners, designers, engineers,politicians, business entrepreneurs, and other successful change-makers, who are finding smart, effective ways to meet the three critical challenges of the Twenty-First Century Imperative:

How will we continue to live on our planet without destroying our biosphere?

How will we repair and regenerate the environmental damage we have already caused?

How will we adapt to the escalating impacts of climate change?

Each episode will feature an interview with an individual who we think you will find not only inspiring, but also very relevant to helping you answer the question: “what can I do to address the Twenty-First Century Imperative?"



Symbiotic Cities, inventing the future

Designing for a symbiotic, regenerative relationship with our environment... 

The Symbiotic Cities Network is an open network of urban planners, architects, engineers, ecologists and economists exploring how the design of our cities could shift our relationship with the environment from being pathologically parasitic to being Ecologically beneficial. See more...



Symbiotic Cities Blog

January 2014

Symbiotic Transformation

Jan 19, 2014 9:00 PM
by Craig Applegath  |  Add Comment

How will we transform our cities to shift us from our current parasitically harmful relationship with our natural environment to a regenerative, symbiotic relationship?

This was one of the first questions that we asked after developing the definition of a Regenerative Symbiotic City. In answering this question, we agreed that such transformations would need to be ones that underpinned the basic needs of human habitation - shelter, food, energy, access to resources, mobility, and ecosystems services - while at the same time positively contributing to the health and regeneration of local and regional ecosystems. We also agreed that these transformations would need to be grounded in cold hard reality, can only be implemented if existing political and economic resources were effectively marshaled, and would need to be both "economically rational” and be implementable within a time frame that would allow them to begin to have real impact within the next few decades.

Most importantly, we think that these transformations must be rational and practical extensions of existing science and technologies, and not reliant on yet-to-be-invented solutions. For example, shifting from gasoline powered to electric powered cars would be entirely feasible within our current transportation systems; or shifting from fossile fuel energy to renewable energies and thorium nuclear energy is now technically and economically feasible, even though these technologies face huge implementation hurdles.

What are these transformations?

In the Transformations section of the website we have focused on what we are 10 of the most important transformations required to facilitate the transformation of our cites from parasitic to symbiotic cities. They are:

1.  Transforming from a carbon intensive economy to a net-zero carbon energy economy;

2.  Developing ecosystem services infrastructure to support the generation of ecosystem services;

3.  Planning for high-density, complete communities to reduce our per capita ecological footprints;

4.  Transforming building fabric be regenerative and support and produce ecosystem services; 

5.  Transforming the food production to create a sustainable local urban food infrastrucure;

6.  Infinite material and resource recycling to significantly reduce our resource extraction burden on surrounding ecosystems;

7.  Transforming from fossil fuel powered transportation to zero-carbon mobility

8.  Transforming suburban landscapes from ecological deserts to biodiverse oases.

    ...and 2 enabling transformations that are required to facilitate the above 8 transformations:

9.  Transforming from an economic system that "externalizes" natural capital and ecosystems services to a "whole system economy" that internalizes them; and 

10.  Substantially increasing the effectiveness of the democratic representation and decision making to facilitate regenerative symbiotic city policy making and implementation. 


To find out more about these transformations, see the transformations section of this website

Craig Applegath


Energy, Ecosystem Services, High-Density, Urban Food, Building Design, Non-toxic, Material Recycling, Water Recycling, Resilience, Economic Policy  

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