Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

Dutch Diplo Talk

Urban parks: protect, use and integrate

24 Apr 2015

Golden Gate Park (SF)

Some cities do not have parks, and believe it or not people still choose to live there anyway. Last week, City Parks Alliance organized an international conference, “Greater & Greener 2015: Innovative Parks, Vibrant Cities.”

I gave a short introduction following Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, moderated a session about resilient parks, and hosted the international morning of the conference. You can imagine that the participants are convinced that a city needs parks, but why? What are their arguments?

The first group of arguments in favor of urban parks is that they serve as a green oasis close to neighborhoods. People can go there for a walk with or without their dog. They can play a team sport, ride a bike, enjoy a run, read under a tree, or celebrate something (a family reunion or King’s Day).

A second group of arguments is that a green and blue city looks more beautiful than a grey one. It makes people physically and mentally healthier, gives them an opportunity to leave their isolated apartments to socialize outdoors. In short, a green and blue city makes people happier.

Parks as the lungs of a city’s ecosystem
A third group of arguments is that parks are the lungs of a city’s ecosystem, and can restore the water system and the biocultural diversity, such as is the case with the LA River. Urban ag, walking and biking infrastructure, sequestration, cooling, resilience, energy saving and every-season-availability are key words.

This is easier said than done. The governance of communities, business, and city departments is complicated. The finance through revenues and separate funding is equally difficult. The answer seems to be to (re)develop city regions holistically. Parks, the waterfront, the landscape, housing developments, and transportation connections should all connect and flow into each other.

That’s where the Dutch came in at the conference with two Wageningen University laureates: Nico Tillie, vice president of the World Council of City Data in Toronto, Canada, scientist in Delft and consultant for the City of Rotterdam; and Cecil Konijnendijk van den Bosch, president Arboricultural Research and Education Academy and scientist in Uppsala, Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark.

If parks are protected, used and integrated in the urban landscape, governance and financial support will gradually follow.

This blog was posted earlier in Hugo’s Weekly

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  • 24 Apr 2015, 8:00
  • Posted in Climate
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About the author

Hugo Von Meijenfeldt
Written by Hugo Von Meijenfeldt

Consul-General in San Francisco

Hugo von Meijenfeldt was appointed as representative for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the 13 westernmost United States in August 2013.

Prior to his current position, Hugo was Deputy Director General at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. He also served as Special Envoy for Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2009 until 2013. In this capacity, he led Dutch participation in global diplomatic activities to reach a climate agreement.

Previously, Hugo was Director for Soil, Water and Rural Environment. For several years he held the position of Deputy Director for International Affairs, Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Policy of UN-ECE Geneva, and Head of the European Policy Division (including the EU Presidency in 1997). From 1982 until 1991, he was Legal Counsel to the soil clean-up division.

Hugo earned his Masters in Public Law and Policy at the Free University in Amsterdam in 1981. He is member of the WorldConnectors and the Sustainability Challenge Foundation.