A Circular Metabolic Approach for Polycentric Cities

Nicola Tollin
Professor WSR in Urban Resilience
University of Southern Denmark, Odense

The New Urban Agenda (NUA), adopted in Quito during HABITAT III in 2016, defines the global policy framework for cities and human settlements for the next 20 years, in direct connection with other UN global policies such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (ASD), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) and the Paris Agreement (PA). The NUA includes specific references to polycentric cities, as a means to achieve sustainable urbanization (NUA articles 51, 95 and 98); also explicitly stating that it will support the implementation of polycentric territorial development (NUA article 95).

NUA recognizes the role of polycentric cities in development-appropriate planning and design instruments, aiming at enhancing resource and land-use efficiency, urban resilience and sustainability. Also in conjunction with higher mixes of uses, compactness and densification (NUA article 51). Finally, the concept of polycentric cities is also associated with the reduction of urban sprawl and its negative effects, harnessing density and economies of scale and agglomeration (NUA article 98).

The presentation defines the contribution of polycentric cities in the frame of the NUA, and in relation to the ASD, SFDRR and PA. Moreover, the presentation proposes an understanding of polycentric cities based on circular urban metabolism, which is derived from the circular economy principles. The presentation concludes discussing how a circular urban metabolic approach can support informed decision making, through the analysis of co-benefits generated in terms of energy, material, information, and the flow of resources.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation