10/06/2015 09:55 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sustainable Urban Cities: Ecogardens and Environmental Education for All

Sunday is devoted to relax and body battery recharge after a tough working week. The well-being of humanity, the environment and the functioning of the economy, ultimately depend upon the responsible management of our bodies and minds, as well as of the planet's natural resources.

The Rio+20 Outcome "The Future we want" document actively recognizes the importance of advancing sustainable development and urges all countries to fully implement commitments under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (signed at the Earth Rio Summit in 1992) aimed at preserving biodiversity, sustainably use its components and fairly sharing benefits arising from genetic resources. The newly adopted sustainable development goals call for " sustainable , resilient, inclusive, safe cities and human settlements" (SDG 11).


In its targets, SDG 11 aims at ensuring access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums, accessible and sustainable transport system for all, improving road safety; enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries, as well as protect and safeguard the world's cultural and natural heritage.

This means that, face the rapid urbanization growth, strong programs, initiatives, processes, methodologies, services and legislation must work towards a better environment where people can feel safe, secure, can have access to public spaces, public transportation and open green spaces where they can meet, interact, create, share ideas and work towards preserving the nature around them.

At international level, the United Nations is marking Urban October, a month where it aims to raise awareness, generate knowledge and engage communities around the world towards the adoption and implementation of a New Urban Agenda to achieve a sustainable future. A New Urban Agenda will be presented at UN Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development scheduled to be held in Quito in October 2016. Moreover, on October 5th UN-Habitat, the United Nations Programme for sustainable human settlements and with a catalytic role in urban matters, is celebrating World Habitat Day with a video message and a series of initiatives, conferences and events all around the world, explaining the meaning and the importance of safe, sustainable, clean public spaces for all, face the rapid urban growth that, if not sustainably managed, can escalate poverty and unemployment, safety and crime problems, pollution and health issues.


Environmental education workshop in Madrid, hands-on!

At local level, I am bringing an example of urban livable city and a potential example of a sustainable city for the future. In the park of Retiro, the green lung of the Spanish capital, lays an ecological garden and a center of environmental education. The town hall of Madrid organizes free eco-educational workshops, courses of traditional gardening and ecological gardens, on sustainable production of vegetables and the use of compost instead of chemicals as soil fertilizers. In addition to it, local guides give free tours of the park, with its gardens, its fauna and flora, along with the history of the gardens of the park. People of all ages, from children to adults, can sign up and work on the soil and the plants, sowing the seeds of plants, veggies and flowers. A fruitful exercise that can allow us to learn about the soil, its fruits and the sustainable production and consumption of the food we eat.




Views of the ecological gardens- park of Retiro, Madrid- Spain

Practical actions at all local level can produce a huge butterfly effect and cascade on public environmental policies that can improve people' well-being and further protection and preservation of the cities we live and we breathe in.

October is the month of our Habitat, let's make it a safe and secure place to live, where we can enjoy learning about mother Earth and where we can sustainably contribute, respect, live and where everyone can have access to essential material (and spiritual) goods: housing, dignified and properly remunerated employment, adequate food and drinking water; spiritual freedom and education.

For more information and readings:
Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Sustainable Development Goals
Activities in Madrid: Habitat Madrid: Programa de Actividades Ambientales

Love the environment you live in!
Hasta pronto!