城市永續發展機會

The Urban Sustainability Opportunity
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城市的成長迅速,消耗大量對生活品質很重要的資源。正因如此,城市提供最佳機會,可讓公司克服環境和社會在永續性方面的挑戰。

莎拉.葛林(Sarah Green):嗨,我是莎拉.葛林,我們今天的來賓是哈佛商學院的約翰.麥康柏(John Macomber)。約翰,非常感謝你今天撥冗前來。

約翰.麥康伯:我很高興受邀。

莎拉.葛林:你把永續性的大挑戰看成是城市的挑戰。為什麼是城市?

約翰.麥康伯:我把永續性的機會視為城市的機會,有幾個原因。其中一部分是根據人口統計資料。全世界有數十億人從農村搬到城市,尋找更好的機會。

他們這麼做的背景,是沒有足夠的水、清潔的空氣,也沒有足夠的地方放置垃圾、交通太壅塞、碳排放過多。很多時候,人們會想,「好吧,政府會解決這個問題。」我的方法認為,政府無法獨力解決這些問題,私部門必須參與。至於城市,城市讓人感興趣的部分原因,就是你可以在城市中大規模行動,而且進展很快。

城市貢獻全球GDP極高的比重,私部門參與者在單一城市中採取行動,比在國家層級行動更容易得多。就政治層面來說,城市是可以推動某些事情的實體。很多時候,國家在聯邦層級陷入困境,但城市可以實際採取行動。基於以上三個原因,你可以從城市層級著手,在永續性方面取得進展,這是從資源的角度來考量。

莎拉.葛林:讓我們再深入探討這點,以及對於私部門的機會。企業應如何思考以找出合適的機會?

約翰.麥康伯:有些一般性的機會,幾乎任何公司都會考量,可能是一家生產保溫材料或幫浦之類產品的公司。但他們並沒有真正大幅推動永續性或資源效率,甚至沒有大幅推動城市競爭力的事項。

還有另外兩種方法可用。一種是增加技術,不僅透過技術在公司內部進行協調,而是與多個實體協調,以便優化許多人的使用情況。如此一來,你就能用相同的水、相同的電、相同的交通,創造出更多效益。這是一個方向。

同樣地,你可以研究一些財務模型,以便更妥善分配那些效益。任何一種效率情境中的最大問題之一,就是追蹤誰進行投資、誰獲得效益。有一些相當複雜的財務模型,其中包含許多不同的實體和證券類別,有助於讓效益能與投資匹配。

我認為最引人注目的模型,就是結合這兩者。如果你有進步的技術,又有一項財務投資,就可以獲得很多價值。你可以考慮如何分配這些價值,你可以為它爭取到非政府的資金。

莎拉.葛林:你是否有更多例子,或是一個很具體的例子,說明如何把這種想法化為行動?

約翰.麥康伯:好的。我個人認為,有很多方式可以在城市採取介入措施,企業可以做的事情很多。但如果你思考的是要對全球產生實質影響,並思考這個時代真正引人注目的議題,那麼我認為有三個議題可考量。

第一個是水資源,人類需要水才能生存,而潔淨水的數量有限。第二個議題是電力。第三個是交通。以水資源為例,阿爾及爾市嚴重缺水,因為有數百萬人從農村搬到城市。阿爾及爾市無法自行提供乾淨的水。

因此,他們與通用公司和一些合作伙伴,簽訂25年的合約,這個實體機構簽約提供水服務,為期25年。他們也把資金投入幫浦、風扇和等。他們擁有一個技術元件,一個資訊科技元件,可優化來自多個地點的多個位址和多個使用者的水流,因而可用相同數量的基礎設施、相同數量的能源,來得到更多效益。這個財務模型包括本金的投資、銀行債務,以及海外私人投資公司的非政府組織資金。在這種情況下,你可以用更少的能源獲得更多的水,因為你運用了技術和複雜的財務分層。

莎拉.葛林:最後我想談談你最近做的一個很棒的實驗,你參加了印度的宗教節日「大壺節」,這也許是世界上最多人參與的集會。你從那次經驗學到什麼?你學到的心得當中,哪些是我們可以應用的?

約翰.麥康伯:大壺節令人著迷。那基本上是個速成的城市,每12年出現一次。那在印度教是很吉祥的時刻,能在恒河、亞穆納河和神祕的薩羅斯瓦蒂底河交匯處聚會。

在最繁忙的那天,超過一千萬人所在的那片土地,其實一年中有一半時間在水下。那是氾濫平原,因恒河氾濫而形成。每12年一次舉行這個節日,水在9月退去,人們在1月到來,因此,當局必須建造這座突然冒出的巨大城市,以容納八百萬人。

當然,有趣的是,我們與神學院、設計學院、公共衛生學院的同事一起前往,他們去是理所當然的,我則是對基礎設施有興趣,想看看它是如何組織的,以及是否有些心得值得其他南亞、中國、南美或非洲城市參考。出乎我意料的是,主辦單位基本上專注於三件事。他們說:「我們要確保人們了解土地的使用。」因此,過去幾百年為了爭奪靠近匯流處的土地,甚至帶著大象和老虎相互廝殺的不同教派,現在已分配好土地。

他們關注的第二件事是交通。那裡有很寬的道路,即使是建在沙地上,在沙地上用金屬板鋪成的道路,總長約160公里,這些臨時道路到夏季就會消失。他們關注的第三件事是電力。現場安裝了2.2萬個臨時電線桿,好讓所有非政府組織執行所有其他的服務。

像這樣專注於一個共同目標,也就是「我們希望所有朝聖者都擁有良好的體驗」,我們認為這是很重要的心得,可供新的城市聚落借鏡,也就是要設法制定共同的目的,而不要嘗試以零散的方式,同時做所有的事情。

莎拉.葛林:約翰,非常感謝你今天撥冗前來。

約翰.麥康伯:我很高興有這個機會。

(劉純佑譯)


Cities are growing fast, and they’re consuming huge amounts of resources critical to quality of life. That’s why they offer the best opportunities for companies to surmount environmental and social sustainability challenges.

Sarah Green: Hi, I'm Sarah Green. I'm talking today with John Macomber from Harvard Business School. John, thanks so much for coming in today.

John Macomber: Happy to.

Sarah Green: So you see the big sustainability challenge as an urban one. Why cities ?

John Macomber: I see the sustainability opportunity as an urban one for a couple of reasons. One’s sort of backing up a little bit around demographics. There are billions of people all around the world moving to cities from the countryside in search of better opportunities.

They’re doing this in the context of not enough water, not enough clean air, not enough place to put the garbage, too much traffic, too much carbon. And a lot of times, people think that, “Well, governments are going to solve this.” My approach largely is that governments can't really solve it on their own, and that the private sector needs to. With respect to cities, cities are interesting partly because that's where you can do things at scale, quickly.

It's where the bulk of the world's GDP is generated and where private-sector actors can act in a single city easier than they can act in a nation. And, politically, cities are the entity that can do something. Many times at the federal level, nations are stuck, but cities can actually act. So for all three of those reasons, there are advances in sustainability that you can make working at the city level, thinking about resources.

Sarah Green: Let's dig a little deeper into that and the opportunity there for the private sector. How should companies be thinking about identifying the right opportunities?

John Macomber: Well, they are sort of the regular opportunities almost any company would think about -- that might be a product company making insulation or pumps or something like that. But they don't really advance the sustainability or resource efficiency or even the city competitiveness agenda that much.

So there are two other ways to go. One is to add on technology that advances beyond just coordinating within one company to coordinating with multiple entities, so you can optimize somehow between the uses of lots of people. That way, you can get more benefit from the same water, the same electricity, the same transit. That's one direction.

Similarly, you can work on financial models that help to allocate the benefits better. One of the big problems in any kind of efficiency situation is tracking who makes the investment with who gets the benefit. So there are some quite sophisticated financial models that have lots of different entities and categories of securities that help match up the benefit to the investment.

The most compelling ones, I think, are when they combine those two together. So when you have a technology advancement that also has a financial investment so that you can really capture a lot of value. You can think how to allocate the value. And you can get it funded by something other than some government writing a check

Sarah Green: Do you have a couple more examples, or maybe one really concrete example, of that kind of thinking in action?

John Macomber: Sure. I personally think that there's lots of ways to intervene in cities, there's lots of things that companies do. But if you're thinking about real impact across the globe, and you're thinking about the issues that are going to be really compelling in our time, I think they're three.

One is around water, because you need water to live, there's a finite amount of

clean water. The second is around electricity. And the third is around transit. So for example, in water, in the city of Algiers -- huge water shortage, millions of people have moved from the countryside to the city. The city of Algiers wasn't able to provide the clean water on its own.

So they entered into a 25 year-contract with General Electric and some partners by which that entity contracted to provide the water services for 25 years. They also put the capital in for the pumps and fans and things. And they had a technology component -- an information technology component -- that optimized the flows from multiple sites in multiple locations and multiple users, so that you get much more benefit from the same amount of infrastructure, same amount of energy. And then the financial model included investment from the principles, bank debt, and also NGO money from OPIC. So in that situation, you get more water using less energy by applying technology and sophisticated financial layering.

Sarah Green: So I want to just wrap up by talking about just that really cool experiment you did recently, where you traveled to the Kumbh Mela religious festival in India, which is maybe one of the world's most populous gathering of people. What did you learn from that experience -- what lessons came out of that, that we might be able to apply?

John Macomber: The Kumbh Mela was fascinating. It's an instant city, essentially, that happens every 12 years. It's a very auspicious time in Hinduism to meet at the confluence of the Ganges and the Jamuna River and the mythical underwater Sarasvati.

And on the busiest day, they have more than 10 million people on land which half of the year is underwater. It’s a flood plain, because the Gange floods, of course. And so once every 12 years, when this festival happens -- the waters recede in September, people will be coming in January – so, the authorities have to build this pop-up megacity for 8 million people.

And of course, what's interesting to see – and we went with colleagues from the Divinity School and Design School and School of Public Health, for obvious reasons -- my interest in infrastructure was to see how this was organized and if there were takeaways for multiple cities in South Asia or in China or in South America or in Africa. And the thing I didn't expect was that the organizers basically focused on three things. They said, “We're going to make sure people understand the land use.” So the competing religious sects, who used to come for centuries and kill each other with elephants and tigers to get land near the confluence, now have allocated parcels.

The second thing they focused on was transit. There are very wide roads, even though it's on sand, so these are metal plates on sand for about 160 kilometers of roads -- temporary roads, which will be gone in the summertime. And the third thing they focused on is electricity. There were 22,000, temporary electric poles put in the site that helped all of the non-government actors do all the rest of the services.

So that element of focus around a common objective, which is “We want all the pilgrims to have a good experience,” we think it's a pretty powerful takeaway for new urban settlements, to try to have a common purpose and not try to do everything in a scattered way all at the same time.

Sarah Green: JOHN, thank you so much for coming today.

John Macomber: It was my pleasure



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