The reality of the climate crisis and how it impacts our cities is fundamentally a question of social justice and democracy. A transition towards a climate just future has to be deeply inclusive – that is the big challenge for our democracies. As the risk of a destructive 3+ Degrees temperature rise keeps growing, transitioning together is about the institutional infrastructures that enable systemic change: after all, climate change is not an isolated crisis, but a symptom of a system deeply out of balance. How can we design legitimate and equitable pathways towards a climate-resilient and thriving future?

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This triptych aims to explore what this means for our cities, and for us as individuals and communities – and identify some of the core features of a more hopeful future. In this final part, we will look ahead at some areas of experimentation that we think cities should explore next.

Olga Kordas (Stockholm) has more than 16-year experience in combining research, teaching, and strategic research management tasks at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Since 2017, she has been leading Viable Cities, the strategic innovation programme for smart, sustainable cities. In order to cope with the radical transition that we need in a short amount of time, cooperation between citizens, politicians, industry and civil servants is required, at a level that has never happened before. The Klimatkontrakt 2030 (Climate City Contract 2030) is an agreement between cities, government agencies, and Viable Cities in which all parties commit to making concrete contributions to speeding up the climate transition.

Engineer Dina El Filali (Amsterdam) is an entrepreneur, spoken word artist, and founder of MET-REC, a startup founded with the aim to help cities and metropolitan areas become sustainable, circular, and resilient. According to Dina “nothing is what it seems” – we live in a beautifully complex world. Dina’s ambition is to combine instruments such as system thinking with creative expressions to contribute to a better way of managing and understanding our world. Which in turn will give us more insight and increased awareness to co-evolve towards a just and resilient world.

Barbara Wagensveld and Marjolein Pijnappels are the founders of Studio Lakmoes, a knowledge communication agency with expertise in telling complex stories in a simple way. Barbara and Marjolein believe that we are never going to solve the complex problems of our overpopulated, polarised, inequal, 2021 world by aimlessly (re)sharing multitudes of information and data. We need meaningful stories that make sense of the data. Lakmoes works on projects like CoCliServ, a European research project that explores novel ways to transform climate science into action-oriented place-based climate services. How can we co-design future visions and action scenarios for a climate resilient neighbourhood?

For DCFA Fellow Dark Matter Labs (London), the principles of strategic design are the ultimate tool to apply to ‘big picture’ systemic challenges like education, urban design, and climate breakdown. Over the past 5 years, Dark Matter Labs has found itself involved in several collaborations where efforts to transition society in response to technological revolution and climate breakdown look to the city as a critical problem-space and tangible unit of change. In the coming weeks, Indy Johar and Joost Beunderman will continue their research in Pakhuis de Zwijger’s two-year programme, focusing on what it takes to design a climate-resilient and thriving future for all.

DossierDesigning Cities for All
Programme seriesDesigning Cities for All

How can designers contribute to the creation of inclusive cities for, and by everyone?