6th International Conference on Sustainable Development and Planning27 - 29 May 2013
The 6th International Conference on Sustainable Development and Planning took place on the Greek island of Kos, organised by the Wessex Institute of Technology in collaboration with the University of Thessaly. It followed a series of meetings that started in 2003 in Skiathos (Greece), continued in Bologna (2005), the Algarve (2007), Cyprus (2009), and New Forest (2011) in the UK, home of the Wessex Institute of Technology (WIT).
The Conference deals with all aspects of development and planning and brings together scientists and other stakeholders from across the globe to discuss the latest advances in the field, as well as to seek and highlight developments in managerial strategies and assessment tools for policy and decision makers.
Problems related to development and planning affect rural as well as urban areas and are present in all regions of the world. Increasing urbanisation has resulted in the deterioration of the environment and loss of quality of life. Urban development has also aggravated the problems faced by rural areas, such as forests, mountain regions, coastal areas and many others. Taking into consideration the interaction between different regions and developing new methodologies for monitoring, planning and implementation of novel strategies can avoid solutions leading to environmental pollution and non-sustainable use of available resources.
Energy savings and eco-friendly building approaches have become an important part of modern development, which places special emphasis on resource optimisation. Planning has a key role to play in ensuring that the solution, as well as new materials and processes are incorporated in the most efficient manner.
The meeting was opened by Professor Carlos A Brebbia, Director of WIT and Chairman of the Meeting, who explained the importance of this type of conference for his Institute. Carlos explained that WIT is dedicated to the transfer of knowledge at international level and the conference cycle is an important way of achieving this objective.
In addition to a very successful programme of 25 conferences per year, WIT carries out research at its New Forest Campus and offers advanced consulting and computer services to industry; particularly those working on aerospace and energy. Another important part of WIT’s work is the publication of scientific and technical material through its publishing arm, WIT Press. This now amounts to more than 50 books per year and 6 journals edited by this Institute.
All reference books are incorporated in the WIT Transactions series, each conference volume appears in notable reviews, publications and databases, in addition to being permanently archived in WIT’s eLibrary (http://library.witpress.com). This ensures that the WIT conference papers are always easily available to the international community. Furthermore all volumes are published in digital as well as paper format, with the former becoming increasingly popular.
For all these reasons, Carlos concluded, WIT conferences are unique and they attract outstanding papers. They also provide a friendly atmosphere in locations which tend to foster the interchange of ideas among the delegates. Kos and the venue of the Conference were specially appropriate for discussions to take place outside as well as during the Conference sessions. Carlos hoped that the delegates would be able to benefit from this.
Professor Elias Beriatos from the University of Thessaly and Co-Chairman of the Meeting welcomed the delegates to Greece. He spoke about the special needs when planning in times of crisis, in terms of sustainable development and the resilience of cities and regions.
Elias said that in those times of multi-faceted crisis, resilience is a new concept in planning to achieve protection of the natural and man-made built environment and to improve the quality of life for the citizens.
He also commented on the environments and landscapes of the future as a result of the acute global energy crisis and the consequent need for the development of all kinds of Renewable Energy Sources. Climate change and the expected rise in sea levels will bring radical changes to the coastline. These processes are bringing new and unprecedented environments into being around the world and will have a dramatic effect on the landscape.There are also tremendous demographic changes. Elias asked how urban infrastructure can meet the needs of the expanding population. What is the role of planning in socially fragmented cities? How will large-scale demographic changes resulting from migration impact our social infrastructure?
Contemporary urbanisation, in Elias’ opinion, is not like urban growth of the past. Rapid urban change overwhelms city centres, neighbourhoods, plans, forests and landscapes. In fact, the countryside itself is urbanised at an ever faster rate. What is the appropriate planning model for a small-medium size town, a metropolitan or a mega city? What is the right percentage between urban regeneration and urban expansion? What is the capability of a city to adapt to change?
Elias then referred to the topic of spatial and environmental governance in an era of Information Technology and multifaceted crisis. Planning authorities must develop new techniques and strategies to address competing interest groups and academic courses. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can help in the process of stakeholders consultation and agreement.
Keynote AddressesThere were a series of keynote addresses during the Conference, given by well-known colleagues, ie:
- “The leverage of corporate environmental protection concepts on employee motivation” by Roman Brandtweiner, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria
- “Spatial equity: a parameter for sustainable development in indigenous regions” by Joseph Buhangin, Saint Louis University, Phillippines
- “Pathways to an oil-constrained future: analogies with climate change mitigation and adaptation” by Roger Brewster, Bond University, Australia
- “Environmental sustainability agenda: metropolitan area of Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico” by Rosa Rojas-Caldelas, Autonomous University of Baja California, Mexico
There were two special sessions organised by Cesar Poveda from the University of Alberta, Canada, and Francesco Russo from the University of Reggio Calabria in Italy.
Cesar’s special session dealt with Sustainability assessments and management and comprised the following papers:
- “The Canadian oil sands: environmental, economic, social, health and other impacts”
- “Sustainability assessment framework for engineering and sciences educational institutions in developing countries”
Francesco’s session was on the topic of Improving safety of users in evacuation and included the following contributions:
- “Designing escape routes for buildings through an aggregate approach”
- “A prototypal test using stated preferences data to model evacuation decisions”
- “Simulation, design and structure of ITS models for supporting evacuation in smart cities”
- “Civil risk manager at European level”
- “Fuzzy utility models: possible applications in evacuation conditions in smart cities”
Presentations were grouped together in the following sessions:
- City planning
- Environmental management
- Environmental policies and planning
- Regional planning
- Cultural heritage
- Sustainability and the built environment
- Sustainable tourism
- Sustainable solutions in emerging countries
- Environmental economics
- Energy resources
- Waste management
The meeting of the International Scientific Advisory Committee of the Conference took place over dinner in a typical Greek fish restaurant where they had prepared a special large snapper for the group. The excellent meal was accompanied by local wines. The Committee discussed how to improve the Conference when it is reconvened in 2015, and in particular the list of new topics to be added. Several locations were proposed and they will be investigated by WIT’s Conference Department.
Social OccasionsThere were numerous occasions for making personal contacts among the participants, during the discussions that took place in the Conference sessions, as well as during the many social functions. Delegates were offered welcoming drinks, and complimentary lunches, as well as the possibility of participating in excursions and the conference banquet.
The Conference dinner took place in a restaurant located at the top of a mountain offering a panoramic view of the island of Kos. The excellent meal consisted of a series of delicacies, with lamb as the main course. There was Greek dancing at the end, carried out by allegedly the best dancer on the Island. Most of the delegates joined in the dance which added to the enjoyment of the evening. At the end of the evening, Carlos thanked them all for attending the banquet and gave them a small souvenir as a reminder of the occasion.
Closing of the Conference
At the end of the Conference, Carlos closed the Meeting by thanking the delegates for coming and reminded them about the possibility of sending an extended version of their paper for publication in the SDP Journal. He commented favourably on the friendly atmosphere of the Conference, hoping that this will lead to further contact between participants.
Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary as Volume 173 of WIT Transactions on the Ecology and the Environment (ISSN: 1746-448X, Digital ISSN 1743-3541). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at http://library.witpress.com