Principal Voices, Transport - Old ideas and the new 800 pound gorilla
“The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.”
- Preface to The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (13 December 1935)
· Principal Voices – Transport : http://www.principalvoices.com/transport.html
· Kyoto World Cities Challenge Initiative – http://kyotocities.org
Dear Jeff, Andy, Katie, Stan:
Sorry to be so very persistent on this, but the point I am wishing to get through to you concerning how you handle the Principal Voices dialogues on matters of transportation is at once so flagrant and so important from the vantage of transportation policy and practice in people’s daily lives around the world, is really worth my continuing insistence.
So how to do this efficiently for you, and to get across the point that the current reality of this sector is very different from the discussions structure that you originally set out to use? Hmm. Let me try this in three discrete steps.
- First to draw your
attention to our original communications to you on this, which still do a
pretty good job of setting out the issues and the choices. I have tried
to write this up in a way that will appeal at once to bright citizens with
no particular background in the sector, but at the same time to handle it
in a way that it will stand the acid test of the professionals who know all
this like the back of their hands. This then follows immediately below.
- Then to draw your
attention to the fast growing list which at present consists of more than
one hundred leading thinkers and doers in the sector world wide, who are identified
in detail below (as putting their signatures on the Kyoto World Cities
Challenge Initiative… itself a clear proof of this important new Voice in
the sector). The details of both the members of this list and of the justifications
and intentions behind it, are spelled out in detail in the final section
of this communication.
- Finally, and with the thought that if you hear on this not simply form me sitting here in Paris but others who are among the leading proponents of sustainable transportation world wide, I am forwarding this to several of the international consortia working in this area, along with an invitation that the members address to you a short note supporting this proposal (or of course otherwise if that is what they chose to do).
Let me leave it at that for the moment. And in conclusion I want you to know that we think yours is a fine initiative, and indeed you have done a fine job in your choice of environment voices and they in turn have done you proud. And I see no reason why the transportation dialogue should not be at this same high level.
Sustainable transportation is no longer a marginal side line or topic of interested to academics but far from the priorities of the real world. With the combination of egregious systemic inefficiency and costs of the present arrangements, $100 oil around the corner, and a world that is the undeniable reality of all that is summarized under the phrase climate modification and global warming, sustainable transport is suddenly the 800 pound gorilla who is now in the room when transport matters come up for discussions. It would be a pity if you were not to bring this fully into your debates.
With all good wishes,
Chair, Kyoto World Cities Challenge: 2005-2007
The Kyoto World Cities Challenge is at http://kyotocities.org
The Commons Open Agenda is at http://www.ecoplan.org
Le Frene, 8/10 rue Joseph Bara 75006 Paris, France
Tel: Europe: +331 4326 1323 N. America +1 310 601-8468
Francis Eric Knight Britton
8/10, rue Joseph Bara
75006 Paris, France
+33 1 4326 1323
+1 310 601-8468
+336 7321 5868
On Behalf Of Eric Britton
Sent: Thursday, March 17, 2005 5:21 PM
Subject: [Sustran] Principal Voices, New Mobility and Kyoto
Plet2 The Kyoto World Cities Challenge: 2005-2007
Latest program background at http://kyotocities.org
Thursday, March 17, 2005, Paris, France, Europe
Mr. Stan Stalnaker,
Fortune Group, London
Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly on this. I appreciate that. But the nature of what I have to communicate, to propose to you is perhaps a bit more complicated than that kind offer of a free ticket.
But before I dig in here, let me do everything I can to emphasize the point that what follows is intended in the most positive, creative spirit. I am not carping in this or trying to get on your case. Rather I am very very enthusiastic as to what you can do with this terrific timely challenge if you get your sites fully on it. And there we can help.
Based on what I have seen thus far – and indeed I have a pretty comprehensive daily Google alert for everything that breaks in your program, so I am following progress pretty well from here – I have to assume (sorry) that you got into this transportation component without delving too awfully deep into the current state of play in the field. In fact things are changing very rapidly now in our sector and it is hard to follow the speed of the action. That happens all the time of course but in this particular case it carries with it quite some risk (i.e., the danger of a largely wasted effort). But let me hope that there is some flex on your end and that you may indeed be interested in making a genuine splash with the transport portion of the program. You could and my colleagues and I can help you with this. So since time is short on both sides let me handle this next note as efficiently as I can from here.
In this note I wish to address specifically the transportation component, an area in which my international colleagues and I have quite some experience. Since I am not sure how deeply you yourself are into what is going on in this troubled sector world wide – and which in fact is one of the reasons why your Voices initiative is, potentially, so very timely – I have to give you a bit of quick background on the state of play: (If you already know this, apologies for my heavy-handedness, but I prefer to err on the conservative side since this is a matter of some importance to all who will be tuned in to your activity).
If all you want to do is talk about metros in Mexico City in your November session – as the site now seems to suggest -- then you are only going to dig in well explored terrain and it will be hard for anyone (other than the suppliers of course and their usual acolytes) to get excited. I don’t thing this is the level of public interest that you, CNN, Fortune, Time, etc. can be satisfied with. But there is real terrain here for a very high profile series of discussions. The trick is to find out how to get at it.
I should add that before getting this to you, we have engaged in a fairly extensive brainstorming which has brought in a good number of the main shakers and movers of the field since your reporter first got in touch with me late last autumn for the article of the topic which appears on your site. Thus, everything that follows has been shaped by these exchanges. I am further copying this note to several of the networks so that we can se what they might have to add to this.
Voices Background in the World of Transportation Today:
We note that of the four areas that you have targeted for simulating discussion, transport alone has been targeted with a single “voice”. This is a major oversight since the sector is as it happens being shaped today through the interactions between no less than three major voices. Which are:
(1) Transportation Voice 1: The long established defining Voice of Transportation expertise in design, engineering, construction, operation, finance, etc., which essentially dominated and defined the transportation systems of the 20th century, still remains the main operational paradigm in most places (and in any event a critical central component of the next generation transportation paradigm that must be able to call in these skills and experience). This Voice is at present most ably represented by Mr. Ellatuvalapil Sreedharan one of India's greatest civil engineers, the architect of the supposedly unbuildable Konkan Railway linking Mumbai and Mangalore, and, more recently, designer of the Delhi Metro system (See http://www.principalvoices.com/voices/elattuvalapil-sreedharan-bio.html for more)
(2) Second Voice? No conversation concerning the future of the transportation sector would be complete without the vigorous participation of this important second voice. A parallel but in many ways separate but very powerful in its own right financial, institutional, political, and industrial lobby “Voice”, a good example of whose thinking can be seen with the recent WBCSD’s “Meeting the Challenges to Sustainability” report (see http://www.ecoplan.org/wtpp/general/wbcsd.htm for report and some context) that has been actively supported by this currently formidable element of the transportation establishment. (24 June: I note that you have recently added the name of Leif Johansson of AB Volvo, which is very much what I had in mind for this second voice. That’s a good step in the right direction, but there is more to it than that.)
(3) The Third Voice? These are the growing number of international experts and groups who are working together to open up and define what we call the Sustainable Transportation or New Mobility Agenda. This approach to understanding and deciding about mobility matters is altogether on another plane from the older supply-oriented, specific, circumscribed problem-solving approach that has long been the dominant mode of thinking, policy and investment in the past, a time incidentally when the ‘problematique’ of transportation was vastly different from that which we face today (See Todd Litman’s recent piece "The Future Isn't What It Used To Be" at http://www.vtpi.org/future.pdf for a good overview on this). This new and far broader, more inclusive approach to planning, decision making and even on down to implementation and operation is the next step in a cumulative long run process of intellectual, economic, social, environmental and political evolution. It is, no more no less, the world transport policy and practice paradigm of the 21st century.
* * *
So this, as we say in French, is your problematique. And if you decide to engage it head on, you will be assured of a healthy international audience and of making a real contribution. We have some ideas about how to factor in those other two voices efficiently, and if you want to talk about it we’ll be more than pleased to do just that.
In the meantime, let me in closing invite you to have a look at the just ginning up Kyoto World Cities Challenge program, at http://kyotocities.org. And if you want to see what those Principle Voices that are increasingly shaping the transport sector in the future look like, you have no farther to look than at the distinguished International Advisory Panel. These are the people and approaches that are going to shape the main bulk of transportation decisions in the future.
I look forward to hearing from you Stan, and hope that you will take up the gauntlet on this. Together we can do a lot with it.
With all good wishes,
The New Mobility Agenda is at http://newmobility.org
Le Frene, 8/10 rue Joseph Bara 75006 Paris, France
T: +331 4326 1323 Via Skype.com Click here (callto://ericbritton)
The Kyoto World Cities 20/20 Challenge: Abstract
The Challenge addresses a single set of issues:
In a world of many theories and many bright ideas – and many long pauses to consider, and consider . . . – the Kyoto World Cities Challenge stands apart from the rest by dint of its sheer single-mindedness and aggressive near-term focus. Created over 2004 as an independent collaborative NGO action initiative under the New Mobility Agenda, the Challenge addresses one and only question, namely: “What can you do in your city to reduce traffic and its negative impacts dramatically (say on the order of 20%) in a very short period (we propose 20 months), and within your existing transportation budget.” That’s it. Nothing else!
To help advance this aggressive and unusual cooperative problem-solving initiative ,the Kyoto Cities team is building up an open international platform of expert guidance and high level peer support mediated by the internet, and placing it freely and without conditions at the service of groups and cities anywhere in the world wishing to take on this challenge – and in the process move their mobility systems sharply in the direction of higher efficiency, lower costs, and greater sustainability.
The main pillars of this world-wide Open Society initiative include:
1. An aggressive and highly detailed Program Proposal and Strategy in support of practical, high impact, short term, explicitly targeted remedial actions at the level of the city; with the program supported by . . .
2. A distinguished International Advisory Council: a high level group of more than one hundred recognized international experts and leaders covering the wide range of fields that need to be brought in to the solution process, and . . .
3. A Cooperative Partners Network bringing together world wide associate groups and ad hoc coalitions, collaborating \to identify specific cities possibly interested to look more closely at these measures for closer study and eventual implementation. And all of that supported by. . .
4. A state-of-the-art interactive multi-level IP Communications Bridge offering an array of low cost high quality internet tools as needed to knit the network and the interested cities together.
For further information and background: http://kyotocities.org. . (And if you have questions, you might wish to click the FAQ link on the top menu. There is also provision for you to add your own questions to the list under development there.)
From: Eric Britton [mailto:eric.britton@...]
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2005 12:25 PM
To: 'andy_bush@...'; 'jeff.nathenson@...'; 'Katie.Walmsley@...'
Subject: Principal Voices:
Hi. I wonder if you can help me in this.
I am trying to get in touch with the person with the substantive responsibility for creating the Principal Voices project. I have had some contact with Stan Stalnaker on this, but my exchanges with him have been at cross-purposes… i.e., we seem not to be able to get on the same page on this.
I am not pushing to be included personally as a “Voice” in your transportation debate. But I am interested that the discussions be properly engaged, which I and a couple hundred of my most distinguished world colleagues working at the leading edge of these issues both in terms of policy and practice can attest. Now if you want further background on how that works, a good place to start is with the Kyoto World Cities Challenge at http://kyotocities.org -- but my point here is more simple.
Stan mentions a “CNN editorial team”, but a project like this has to have one or two sapient human beings who have got their arms around the main issues, have an idea, at to what they want to accomplish and that’s who I would like to run down at this point (that’s a figure or speech). If you can help in this, well that would be terrific. But if not, give a thought to Kyoto World Cities which could be a gift to your children. And to yourselves.
Here is how you can get in touch with me:
With all good wishes,
From: stan_stalnaker@... [mailto:stan_stalnaker@...]
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2005 6:15 PM
Cc: andy_bush@...; jeff.nathenson@...; Katie.Walmsley@...
Subject: RE: Principal Voices, Transport - quick note
Thank you for your corrspondences over the last couple of days. As you can appreciate the program is generating large interest across the world from a variety of sources, and spurring that discussion was a main focus of the program. As I mentioned, the main Principal Voices for the program have already been chosen through the CNN editorial team, so I do not expect there is much else I can do to include Ecoplan in the formal program, other than the ticket to attend an event.
I am not clear exactly what you are asking for from us in your correspondence - only 10 principal voices are being chosen, and that is an editorial decision based on a number of factors. Contributiors are welcome to participate in the discussions generated through the web and the roundtables, but due to the wide media format of our media properties it is necessary to create some channels and structures by which the program stays cohesive and on-message. We are happy with the quality of discussion being generated, and as the transportation segment is not until this fall, I am sure you will see more momentum on that front as we get closer to it. To date, the focus has been much more on the environment, and now business innovation. Economic development will dominate the agenda in the summer, and transportation will be more at the fore in the fall.
Kyoto World Cities Challenge Initiative – The International Advisory Council
Who and why?
The Council Members
Fruit of Diversity
A Sub-Rosa Agenda
Fear of Youth
Levels of engagement
Organizing in clusters and local working groups
The Sector Clusters
Bridging the Council and the projects
The Advisory Council:
(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
- First to draw your attention to our original communications to you on this, which still do a pretty good job of setting out the issues and the choices. I have tried to write this up in a way that will appeal at once to bright citizens with no particular background in the sector, but at the same time to handle it in a way that it will stand the acid test of the professionals who know all this like the back of their hands. This then follows immediately below.