Towards a sustainable development

Towards a sustainable development

HABITATINTL. Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 143-145, Printed in Great Britain. 1989 0197-3975/&x9 $3.00 + 0.00 Maxwell Pergamon Macmillan plc Towards a Sustai...

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HABITATINTL. Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 143-145, Printed in Great Britain.


0197-3975/&x9 $3.00 + 0.00 Maxwell Pergamon Macmillan plc

Towards a Sustainable Development Comments


on the UNECE Colloquium on Human Settlements in Harsh Living Conditions ELLEN

Ministry of Environment,


8013 Oslo Dep., Oslo 1, Norway

A Sustainable Development of Settlements under Harsh Living Conditions Requires Special Refinement of Existing Planning Tools and Practices. The Turku meeting illustrates a wide variety of problems related to the planning of settlements under extreme political and climatological exposures. These vary in scale from the planning of large new settlements to the design of individual dwellings and in complexity from translating physiological needs of human beings into planning principles to developing adequate fiscal and legal planning tools. As well as being related to climatological aspects the task is also related to the challenge of achieving a just distribution of resources between economical and political centres and peripheries within and between several different countries. The Brundtland Commission has in its report “Our Common Future” discussed the need for a balanced exploitation and conservation of resources. This is expressed in principle 5 in the summary of the Commission’s report: “States shall make or require prior environmental assessments of proposed activities which may significantly affect the environment or use of natural resources. ” and through principle 7: “States shall ensure that conservation is treated as an integral part of the planning and implementation of development activities and provide assistance to other States, especially to developing countries, in support of environmental protection and sustainable development.” Within the framework of settlements under harsh conditions this implies that we in the long term can only achieve a sustainable development for these areas by including careful and detailed considerations of local climatological features into our planning practices. If we do not handle this challenge seriously we will be left with settlements that lack the necessary comfort for human habitation and furthermore will require a wasteful use of resources related to heating, snow clearance and general running expenses. Our present practices are to a large degree based on the assumption that these resources are, and will continue to be, limitless. *This is an edited version of a paper from the UN/ECE Research Colloquium Construction Problems of Human Settlements in Harsh Living Conditions, Turku,

on Planning, Housing and Finland, 9-11 August 1988.


Ellen de Vibe

The contributions at the Turku Colloquium demonstrate clearly that the aim of achieving a sustainable development is not easily reached. There is therefore a clear need for the ECE to carry on with the work started at the meetings at Edmonton and Turku. The results of this work will probably be useful to many different countries both within and outside the ECE. There is a Need for Further Basic Physiological and Climatological Knowledge as Well as for Transmission of Existing Knowledge into Planning Principles and Practice.

There seems to be a considerable amount of climatological knowledge available, but this is not readily attainable for the various planning professions and authorities. There seems to be an immediate need to convert existing knowledge into systematic planning theory, criteria and principles that can be conveyed through various under- and postgraduate planning education and guidelines. The medical professions have only lately taken a serious interest in the topic of human habitation under harsh climatological conditions. Further efforts to explore this field could undoubtedly give important additional knowledge necessary for an adequate production on clothing, tools, working environments and settlements. The Norwegian Government has for Several Years been Involved in Research and Pilot Projects Related to the Physical Planning of Settlements under Harsh Conditions.

The Norwegian government has through bodies like the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Labour and Local Affairs and the Norwegian State Housing Bank for some time given priority to the development of planning principles and tools that can solve the challenge of establishing and running settlements under harsh living conditions. The following projects are of special interest. l Since 1976 the mentioned ministries have supported, economically and professionally, research aimed at developing criteria for locating and designing new settlements. l Since 1981 the Ministry of Environment has, together with the local authority of Hammerfest, a town in northern Norway, funded planning and implementation of snow model experiments for new housing areas in Hammerfest . l Through the new Planning and Building Act, that was put into force in 1986, there are new legal tools for securing climatologically important landscape features through local plans. The Ministry of Environment has engaged a consultant to produce a planning guide on the use of the above mentioned legal tools. l The Norwegian State Housing Bank has contributed economically towards the planning and construction of housing areas and individual dwellings within the pilot project in Hammerfest. l As a result of the research and the pilot project the Housing Bank has established a system of improved loans for climatically adapted housing projects. These projects get a 16% higher loan compared to ordinary housing schemes. l The Housing Bank intends to produce a design guide on climatological factors, intended for individual house owners who apply for loans from the Bank.

Towards a Sustainable Development

The Norwegian Government Wishes to Organise an ECE-colloquium Climatology in Physical Planning in Tromsa (Norway) in 1990.



The International Winter Cities Committee has decided to locate the 1990 Winter City arrangements to Tromso in Norway. As a follow-up of the Turku meeting, the government, through the Ministry of Environment, has taken preparatory steps to arrange an ECE colloquium in Tromso. The aim of the meeting will be to consider in detail how neighbourhood planning and housing design should be carried out to achieve climatically good environments without having to rely on climatically enclosed spaces. Study tours to the pilot projects in Hammerfest and the Winter City housing exhibition in Tromso will give useful practical lessons on climatically-adapted physical planning. The organisers believe that this could give useful input towards achieving a sustainable development of settlements in climatically harsh areas.