US and Germany will team up on sustainability
The US Department of Housing & Urban Development announced today that it has signed an agreement with Germany's Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Development (BMVBS) to "cultivate a dual framework to promote more sustainable and livable communities in both nations."
The Declaration of Intent signed by HUD and the BMVBS will support a variety of cooperative actions, including "exchanging sustainability experts from each organization; sharing information and research; hosting bilateral conferences and other meetings at least twice a year; and sponsoring joint research studies," HUD stated in a news release.
“Our nations are urban nations," said BMVBS State Secretary Rainer Bomba. "Not only does a majority of our people live in cities, they are the pillars of our economies and often focal points of the national heritage in our countries. Our joint action to foster sustainable and successful development for our cities therefore reflects our dedication to improve the living conditions in our societies as a whole.”
“This Joint Declaration reinforces the idea that developing more sustainable communities is something both our nations recognize as critical to our futures,” said HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims during a signing ceremony at HUD headquarters in Washington. “The U.S. and Germany share a common vision that we can build a better, more sustainable and livable tomorrow.”
In the US, the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, initiated by the Obama Administration, is promoting a set of livability principles that includes:
• Providing more transportation choices;
• Promoting equitable, affordable housing;
• Enhancing economic competitiveness;
• Supporting existing communities;
• Coordinating policies and leverage investment; and
• Valuing communities and neighborhoods.
HUD and the German ministry identified the following areas in which the two countries may work together:
a. Analysis of integrated urban and regional policies relevant to the development and redevelopment of cities, metropolitan communities, and rural areas.
b. Ways to foster the design and development of sustainable communities through integrated and inter-governmental partnerships in a federal system, with particular attention to transit-oriented development planning and finance.
c. Urban economic development and public–private sector investment partnerships, particularly involving sustainability, green retrofit, and the revitalization of "cities in transition through large-scale changes in their employment base."
d. Public-private partnership comparisons, especially the varying degrees and methods of using private corporate and philanthropic investment with public partners at all levels of government for revitalization and sustainability.
e. Urban land use, including green-space planning, urban farming, temporary greening, and brownfield rehabilitation. This component may include attention to the quality of public spaces, urban man-made landscapes, and architecture.
f. Construction technology and the development of building codes for safer, more affordable housing, with particular regard to residential energy efficiency, urban energy use, and solar, wind, and geothermal advances.
g. Housing finance policy, including both homeownership and rental programs, and government monitoring of mortgage capital markets.
h. The design, development, and administration of housing rent subsidy programs.
i. Other national policy and research issues in housing and community development and related issues, as determined by the two governments.
The text of the Declaration is available here.
The Federal Republic of Germany and other European Union nations have adopted the Leipzig Charter, which recommends creating high-quality public spaces, promoting efficient and affordable urban transportation, and improving energy efficiency with a particular emphasis on underserved neighborhoods.