In the past, most national boundaries reflected linguistic, religion and ethnic homogeneity. Until the late 20th century, diversity was considered a liability, not a strength. Today, more than ever society is considered a melting pot with a diverse set of individuals characterized by their ethnic, racial uniformity, set of values, language, residence and culture. On the basis of our research in urban metabolism and sustainable development, we came up with this idea to develop an education, research and awareness campaign delving into the interconnections between local issues - in terms of resource efficiency and climate change - and the SDGs, using the “SDG” as a common language to overcome any diversity and disability.

INITIATIVE: The proposed initiative will interview multiple target groups according to their age, gender, city, and country of province, from academia, public and private professionals, children and citizens in Italy. The project aim to map and assess the participants’ knowledge of urban metabolism and material flow concerns in cities, sustainable initiatives currently taking place in their hometown, and methods and solutions to manage urban resource efficiencies. In order to achieve this goal, we are currently organizing workshops with students, children, women, elderly and people with disabilities - which we aim to extend to a larger public, including vulnerable groups, such as refugees, homeless people and LGBT communities.

GOAL: The aim of our research is either to map the knowledge of people (students, experts, researchers and the general public) on urban metabolism and SDGs, and to connect them among ideas of sustainable development, creating some guidelines for climate change workshops to be replicated and scaled. Therefore, our goal is to educate the diversity of underprivileged minority groups on climate change towards a common language that can be easily interpreted and replicated across borders. A language that comes in all types of shapes and sizes to educate the diversity of minority groups on climate change using SDGs as a common platform tool that everyone can understand regardless of their background and gender. Unfortunately, the less privileged groups are the most affected minority groups. In our research we aim to develop awareness, education and research concerning disabled, children, elderly, students and women.

OUTPUT: The urban metabolism educational campaign platform features a replicable toolkit and methodology structured to facilitate awareness on resource management, community engagement, city planning and environmental design targeting the unheard minority voices of society to provide knowledge exchange between municipal governments, educational institutions, and community based organizations. Our goal is to create a cross city analysis to identify best practices globally that can empower all citizens from different language paths worldwide to create sustainable changes in their urban environment.

Expected research outcomes of the analysis will be delivered as an urban metabolism educational and awareness video format targeting different groups and will be presented in a seminar that will be held on July 2017 at Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy.

 
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Carol Maione is a graduate in Urban Planning and Policy Design at Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy and master’s candidate at the University of Michigan, currently working as a Campus Coordinator for the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth, with the aim of promoting SDGs and connecting youth among ideas of sustainable development.

Gabriela Fernandez is a Ph.D. candidate in Urban Planning, Design and Policy in the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies at Politecnico di Milano and Co-Founder of the Metabolism of Cities website - a research hub with publications, datasets and tools related to urban metabolism.