The most advanced Greening Template for Regeneration (part 3)

Green action spaces setting the right scene for the eco-social renewal

“Paying our dues for the resources we use.”    P. Hughes & K. Monica (A Big Strategy)

Greening templates and regeneration: action spaces as a paradigm shift catalyst

For the last two decades, I have been presenting the concept of a non-physical socio-green infrastructure conceived for the purpose of attuning populations to become environmentally conscious and thus active. Many governmental as well as non-governmental organisations have readily adopted the language that describes my and my former partner’s innovation that has majorly influenced the climate action and green thinking, internationally. And in consequence, many think-tanks and NGOs have improved their work and their careers however the main thrust of this workable concept has remained ignored.

Despite a couple of attempts to launch Ecoplazas in the UK to date, for reasons unknown to me, those on the entire spectrum of political span whom we introduced the work to, either didn’t grasp the usefulness and richness of this concept or were politically or ideologically entrenched to go ahead with it. At least, they could have acknowledged the idea’s authorship, which would have saved us a great deal of financial and emotional upheaval suffered due to that. In short, no innovator, and especially in the social or environmental fields, should be treated the way we have been.

Anyway, today the concept is as, if not, even more valid, and strategically important in the fight against all the disinformation, counter knowledge and societal inertia and confusion when it comes to environment and climate issues. It can play a crucial role in its ability to bridge and unite many know-how gaps and divergent needs and wants so that we can act as a collectively intelligent ecosystem of individuals.

How ecoplazas transform the phenomenon of protest – a legitimate social demand for better life and work balance – to become compatible with the green transition paths and age of renewal

A protest made up of precise ecologically guided demands can take a centre stage within ecoplazas. Whilst this sounds utopian, it is actually the most pragmatic mechanism and framework for re-educating and re-attuning us to nature and the green paradigm enshrined in the current global climate agreement. This innovation offers us a real chance to kickstart a process of renewal that many of us grassroots thinkers and doers have been trying to manifest for decades. The process whereby we can all participate in addressing today’s problems to avert the worst possible future scenarios.

For the centres like these become a catalyst for exponential magnitude of well-coordinated, eco-focussed action: projects, schemes and initiatives that enable us to solve problems locally and globally simultaneously. Where all these elements combine to work synergistically together, helping us live more in tune with nature and one another in our resource finite reality.

Greening templates for regeneration: shaping democratic and inclusive green transition paths with ecoplazas

What smarter, more effective ways of reducing any given city’s CO2 emissions are available to us at present? There is a host of measures that a city or a region can introduce from the word go green, instead of, or in addition to taxing people out of their cars, which has limited success in making it work, let alone cutting the exhaust emissions down.

It is true that cities can apply these independently of any specially designed for that purpose community action centres. Ecoplazas, however will improve the uptake and effectiveness of such schemes. Here are some positive outcomes and more can be envisaged:

  • Creation of green schemes that reward positive/green commuter behaviour; example Park&Ride scheme that currently operate in the UK and France, smart parking meters, etc. (my consultancy first proposed a number of such schemes as part of London’ greening in our consultancy proposals in 2004 to Transport for London, TfL. 
  • Subsidising (publicly) owned green mass transport system through divestment of funds from the dirty to clean energy sectors.
  • Creating and supporting wide-scale ride-share schemes on a company and nation level. This is especially key in underserviced rural locations in most European countries.
  • Increasing green transport options through targeted high-level investment to get more people out of private cars and on to greener public transport.
  • Making cities and towns greener and healthier through a mix of eco mobility options including biking, walking, more and better transport modes.
  • Designing systems and incentives that reward green road users, for example ecological car drives enjoy road tax reductions and free or greatly subsidised access to green leisure in urban areas.
  • Smarter congestion zoning of cities such as London’s low emission zone (ULEZ)
  • Designing and re-designing cityscapes to include as many services, lifestyle enhancements and ease of access to them as possible.

This includes new nature spaces reclaimed from the road usage within short green travel distance, by cycling or walking and improved public transport ; examples: 1) a 15-minute city program recently adopted by Paris, of 2020; 2) London’s green template of improvements of 2004. My consultancy first proposed a citywide greening program for London in a 200-page Ecological Transport Network document – A Regeneration Programme for London and a greening template – as part of a country not just a city scale. We presented this innovative body of work to the Mayor of London and his government think-tank, TfL.

London utilised 70 of my consultancy’s creative concepts, designed specifically to prepare London for and secure a bid to host the 2004 Games – the template and climate action model that is much more advanced than Paris’s Carlos Moreno’s 15-minute city concept. The widespread sharing of my consultancy’s work, which was already ready in the early 2000, led to this innovation going viral. Moreno’s vision of a template reads just like Hughes and Monica’s ETN. However, our ETN template goes beyond the regenerative program of a capital city, which the 15-minute city project designer also admits.

How is Ecoplaza and its regenerative greening template more advanced than other similar models to date?

Our original intent for this manifold idea was to replicate it across many cities in all countries to meet and bolster the international climate objectives. Analogously to Moreno, who used Covid19 and negative polluting aspects as a trigger for the need to improve city’s social functions, we postulated that unbearable commuting, and related social and ecological conditions of London in the early 2000s gave us the right impetus and time for a radical rethink and change. We came up with the idea of and developed a comprehensive city greening template after being stuck for hours on the London underground, crippled by delays and cancellations.

So, to follow the thinking here, if Paris’s 15-minute city program was truly connecting the citywide improvements and their benefits with the climate change mitigation measures, according to the claims made in the BBC article,* we would not see the French protesting measures that help the country meet the Paris Climate Agreement. The disconnect and the need for an intelligent road map are clear.

Treatment of this new thinking paradigm and their innovators are the biggest barrier to progress with climate action and Earthwide renewal

A lack of mention of my consultancy’s innovation in the article that precedes the Paris program is in my view a startling omission, considering that London applied 70 concepts from our original green regeneration template. Moreover, this proves, among other things, that we, i.e., a global community of diverse peoples and cultures have a long way to go in terms of adopting workable tried and tested concepts in the most optimal way.

This saves time and resources by simply avoiding the reinvention of the proverbial wheel due to not having a regional or national inventory of solutions (another innovation which we named a Global Immune System of solutions, GIS) that everyone knows about and can apply, and other regions and countries can share and emulate.

If we act as one organism capable of streamlining this solution-sharing and integration process, we will stand a better chance of being truly effective at fighting environmental crises that frame our millennium. Thus, creating a perfect storm of eco-conscious climate solutions as an intelligent response to a perfect storm of tipping points both environmentally and socially.

This article is the work of the Earthvoice editor Kinga Monica. She is available for consulting on practical instigation of the concept, sustainability, and ecotourism consulting, internationally.

To read more on this topic and the solutions that have helped shift some gears of the climate change action to date, follow me on Medium.

Some facts regarding this work’s origin

To reclaim this work, whose origin has been obscured, from a particular and pervasive green and cultural revisionism, we (my then partner and I) wrote the material into A Big Strategy book, which was published in 2012. By that point however, various groups proliferated a lot of this work so widely, without fully comprehending its methodology that consequently they recycled this highly practical strategy back into theory. Thus, obliterating its original purpose. Fortunately, not completely. As until now I have kept the integrity of this work so that it those who are interested know it for what it is and what it can achieve.

The media’s storytelling reinforces this revisionism, by perpetuating this particular myth. That is that the most innovative climate change work to date has been the work of think tanks, academics, or business schools. Whereas, in fact, it is the brainchild of a couple of grassroots environmental thinkers. Paradoxically we are made to believe that all of them, independently came up with the same body of work. What’s more, everyone goes along with this theory. This is largely due to countless repetitions and sharing of mistruths as facts by often unaware bloggers and journalists. As I said before about my own work: you cannot unthink an idea once it is thought out and voiced!

Crucially, an illusory colouring of the truth prevents this innovation from being done properly. For if people knew the background to this work, independent and free of political and ideological bias journalists and NGOs would be able to help leverage its proper instigation and thus making it work for the 99%. This, I believe, is a reasonable assumption.

* The BBC article assertion…

“Many experts and planners have provided elements feeding into the 15-minute city concept over past decades…” while this certainly sounds plausible, it requires some important factual corrections. One of which is that, in the UK, it was a couple of independent grassroots innovators who provided, not just elements, but an entire strategy synthesized into a 200-page proposal. This included a short demo video of some practical solutions. A lot of these original solutions and concepts make up today’s similar city regeneration models adopted by some progressive municipalities.

Our work for the first time linked all the seemingly disconnected strands of city work and life within an all-encompassing thinking and action framework. We named it a greening template. With such template, cities could, at the same time, tackle many areas that city planning departments have traditionally looked at in isolation or simply ignored. We incorporated, also for the first time, an element of harnessing creativity of the public in the problem solving. Some of you may remember London’s then Mayor repeating ‘using everyone’s creativity and solving many problems at the same time.’ They literally were citing the lines from our ETN – Integrated Transport document. Today this aspect is also echoed by the Paris 15-minute program designers.

TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More – green spaces where we can talk about ecological renewal whilst solving issues together

Another element to our innovation was bringing everyone on board through active citizenship (our concept of Ecoplazas) and a lifestyle enhancement strategy. This, together with many other synergistic elements, had aimed to leverage and enhance the effectiveness and speed of socio-economic ecologically focussed reforms to enable the green and just transition long before the Paris Agreement came into force in 2016.

A Big Strategy book, which is now out of print, could become a timely guide for countries to enable their green transition through mechanisms and a comprehensive integrated strategy that we presented in early 2000 in the UK. So, if you are a publisher, an environmental writer, or an entrepreneur there can be an opportunity for collaborative projects that could bring this vast and far-reaching body of work to light and help manifest it properly for the first time without any undue censorship.


A Big Strategy: In times of Crisis. A Model to Help Regenerate The Environment, Community And Sustainable Economy. Published in 2012.

Featured image: The Amazon Rainforest fire, 2019.


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