JOURNAL ARTICLE : Urban self-sufficiency through optimised ecosystem service demand. A utopian perspective from European cities
Available online 22 April 2015
Ecosystem service Demand
Utopian scenario Europe
Most cities are not self-sufficient in terms of supply and demand of urban ecosystem services (UES) which creates important social, economic and environmental problems at different scales. Cities have enormous potential to reduce pressures on the environment while enhancing wellbeing for their inhabitants by acting both on the UES supply and demand sides. In this study we focus on the demand side by exploring the feasibility of self-sufficient cities under an environmentally radical, utopian scenario that implies the optimisation of UES demand by individuals, i.e. the minimum possible consumption of provisioning UES, a reduced need for regulating UES and the adequate fulfilment of cultural UES demand for a reasonable human wellbeing. Definitions of optimal demand are provided for a set of essential UES by 2050: food supply, freshwater supply, urban cooling, air purification, carbon sequestration, flood prevention, physical recreation and mental recreation. Operational UES demand indicators are identified for these UES. Based on these, we show the current average ecosystem service demand values in European cities, the current most exigent demand values and propose optimised future demand values. These utopian values intend to serve as benchmarks towards optimised UES demand that will make cities more self-sufficient.