What does the US-China handshake on climate change mean for our Planet of Cities?

When Eagle Shakes Hands with the Dragon

When Eagle Shakes Hands with the Dragon

On the one hand it should give them confidence that they are the seed beds of global change – for it is cities who took the initiative on the climate file. While the US nation both denied and ignored the issue of climate change, over 600 US cities took action in support of the Kyoto Accord to reduce greenhouse gases. While China refused to take climate action seriously at any of the global tables assembled to address the issue, her cities became the stage for the undeniable evidence that denying this truth killed people and productivity.

It is in cities where the sciences of sustainability, resilience, eco-footprints have been enunciated, explored and extolled. Cities have always been Earth’s acupressure points, where evidence accumulates about the impacts and costs of living beyond our ability to renew resources, failing to understand the interconnection of planetary systems and refusing to accept responsibility for our out-sized energy eco-footprints.

The individuality of city life conditions coupled with the universality of the human condition has allowed us to see  that we have to value and evaluate the impacts of climate change in unique ways for each city – but with the benefit of a growing collective intelligence about geographical and ecological contexts, integrated (even transcultural) strategies and evolutionary foresight.

What the US-China handshake on climate change may mean for cities, is that finally the national policy cloak that covers – and more usually chokes – city access to finances to act on the climate change file may be lifted and loosened. The natural competitiveness between nations, who have used the US-China reluctance to commit to a global climate change agreement, as an excuse for their own inaction, will be pressured both externally and internally to join the norming process that is finally emerging on the climate change file at a global scale.

The handshakes that cities may now make with each other on climate change can accelerate, deepen and expand city capacity to adapt, mitigate and prevent climate-caused disasters – even if it is only because the symbolic doors of global economic progress and energy supply chains have been kicked open by this bi-national handshake agreement.

It is now up to cities to act as if the symbolism of the handshake gives them license for real action on the climate change file across the whole planet of cities. This gives a radically new meaning to and potential for action on the synchronistic emergence of the ISO 37120 standard on city measurements.

International \Organization for Standards (ISO) has announced a new standard for quality of life in cities.

In London, UK on November 17-18, 2014, ISO in conjunction the World Council on City Data (WCCD) launches the  the first international standard for sustainable cities, ISO 37120: Sustainable development of communities — Indicators for city services and quality of life.

Working with cities who want a standard created by and for cities, WCCD and ISO 37120 have announced an initial suite of 46 indicators.  These indicators, enable the 4 Voices of the City, to access objective, verified (by auditors) vital signs (aka indicators) to to compare services and performance levels with other cities around the world. Civic managers (generally the policy makers in the city) can now be held accountable by citizens, businesses and civil society organizations by using the ISO 37120 standards as a tool that is  evidence based and annually updated.

ISO lists the benefits of the standard for cities as providing:

• More effective governance and delivery of services
• Local and international benchmarking and planning
• Informed decision making for policy makers and city managers
• Learning across cities
• Recognition by international entities
• Leverage for funding by cities with senior levels of government
• Framework for sustainability planning
• Transparency and open data for investment attractiveness

The WCCD has identified 20 foundation cities who have agreed to adopt ISO 37120 and help build the WCCD, basing its initial set of indicators on 17 Themes.


As we have written elsewhere, for an Integral City, key city indicators must be balanced amongst the four quadrants and based on the city as a living, complex adaptive system. While at least one of the key indicators we have been tracking since our Integral City 2.0 Online Conference is missing (Food) – we think this looks like a promising start with proxies for all the quadrants in place. Moreover, the 20 foundation cities are distributed around the world, so that they will seed the growth of the indicators in different geographies and cultures. (Bogotá, Guadalajara, Boston, Toronto, London, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Helsinki, Arnman, Dubai, Makkah, Minna, Johannesburg, Haiphong, Shanghai, Makati, Melbourne).

Kudos to the working teams at WCCD and all the cities who have participated!!!

Key information in this blog was gleaned from Meeting of the Minds, webinar on New Urban Indicators for City Services and Quality of Life  http://cityminded.org/cal/new-urban-indicators-city-services-quality-life

I am truly awed with the announcement that the European Space Agency has finessed a washing machine sized lander on the ubiquitous Comet 67P/C.


That’s like driving a hole-in-one to a comet not much larger than an earth-sized 4 km golf course – but with a drive that is 6.4 billion km long and that takes 10 years to land on the green and roll into the hole.


And it raises the bar (and lowers the par) for every survival “game” on Earth. The accomplishment takes me back to the last chapter of Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive. I said:

 The potential for expanding and exploring Integral City land-based lessons as they apply to human systems in … outer-atmosphere-based geographies remains largely untapped. What would happen if we brought together the … aerospace academies with the academies of city management [and the sea]? What would happen if city CAOs, COOs and CFOs sat down with captains, chief engineers and cruise ship hotel managers (and even their equivalents in military or space commands)? What could we learn about solving the dilemmas of cities by appreciating solutions that have been developed under much less forgiving conditions for the sea and cosmosphere? (p. 261-262)

 The landing of Philae on Comet 67P/C in search of the origins of life in the universe and on this planet,  highlights the intelligence maps of Integral City and reminds us of these lessons:

  • Seeing the city [or system of interest like the comet] as a whole interconnected to other wholes reveals the emergent, evolving system.
  • Seeing systems reveals interconnections and non-linearity.
  • Non-linearity helps us to live with, prepare for and anticipate the unexpected.
  • Having muscles for the unexpected creates resilience.
  • Resilience means greater adaptability.
  • Greater adaptability means greater survivability.
  • Greater survivability means more joy, expansion, creativity, potential.

Landing Philae on the comet inspires us with what is possible when we keep in mind the whole universe is our cosmic and Kosmic guide to the future. Thank you European Space Agency for potentiating and potentizing the future!

Remembrance Day has traditionally commemorated human life lost in defense of our freedoms. We long for Peace.

Peace Flame, Palace of Peace, den Haag, NL

World Peace Flame, Palace of Peace, den Haag, NL

But as our worlds have expanded the dimensions of space, time and moral influence, so too have we expanded the “reach” of peace.

We have grown Traditional Peace – between tribes – into Pre-Modern Peace – between worldviews. From there we have grown Modern Peace – between economies into Post-Modern Peace – between nations. And now that we see ourselves from space, without national boundaries, we have grown into an era of Post-Post Modern Peace – aspiring to span across One Earth.

And as we view Peace through a transglobal lens, is it now time to consider an evolution of Peace that transcends our species? Are we being called to make peace with all other the species who co-exist with us on this planet?  A growing group are calling our attention to eradicate what they call ecocide – the loss of ecological systems because of human actions.

If we truly want to remember lives lost in the evolutionary battles of life, is it time to remember the loss of all species who have fallen from the Tree of Life? And beyond the leaves, twigs and branches of life that have been lost along evolution’s path, shall we remember the water and soil and all the elements that feed the roots of our Tree of Life? Today can we pause for a moment before the Flame of Peace, to remember, with gratitude, how all life has contributed to the miracle of our existence today? Let us wrap into the minute of Silence we celebrate today, not just lives remembered, but ALL LIFE remembered.

It is another way that we can practice the Master Code: Take care of yourself, take care of others, take care of this place, take care of this planet.

When I think about harm, I am generally trying to ward off the harm others or circumstances might do to me.


World Peace Flame

World Peace Flame

The human species has evolved through a continuous onslaught of external threats from the natural world that have taught us to avoid, remove, reduce or prevent harm in a thousand ways.

However, as we have evolved other sources of harm have also always been with us – namely the harms that we do to ourselves and that reside internally in our individual and collective lives.

The wisdom traditions all invoke some version of the golden rule – that we do no harm to others, and that no harm is done to us. This injunction has universal power.

I have written in depth about the stratification of threats that human actions have unwittingly released upon the world, and how they destroy human security. The exposure to these interdependent threats has become a fact of life for all life (not just human life) on this planet.

What’s more, the potential external impact of our internal creative capacity is now so huge, we may have the power to do more damage to life on this planet, than the whole stack of external natural threats combined.

I want to believe this is not my problem. My individual capacity for doing harm is so small as not to make much or any difference on the rest of life. But if I aspire to be the enlightened being who is the Shambhala warrior, I must carry the swords of insight and compassion … and at the same time do no harm. So perhaps noticing my potential for causing harm is a discipline and a responsibility that I must practice?

Where to start? Start anywhere and follow where it leads. Ok I will start with basic questions that I can ask myself every day to expand my awareness of the harm I might have caused in my everyday life. And I will listen for the still small voice that whispers the PRACTICE THAT OPENS THE DOOR TO MITIGATING THE HARM.

  1. How did I protect the water I used to drink, cook, bathe, recycle? What do I know about how the basic foodstuffs I consumed are produced, processed, delivered, prepared? How did I reduce my eco-footprint? BE GRATEFUL
  2. How do I belong to the place where I live? How did I connect my person to my place in Earth’s environment, eco-region, cycles, seasons and resources? How did I belong and offer support to my family, tribes, culture, neighbourhood? BE KIND
  3. How did I express my natural voice, inspire others and find freedom without infringing on the voice, actions or freedoms of others? BREATHE, SING
  4. How did I respect order and authority that provides structures that align mine and others’ purposes, values, beliefs and commitments? LISTEN
  5. How did I obtain results in my work, play and life that were fair to all and sustainable in the long term? How did I share my good fortune? How did I leave the world better than I found it? BE GENEROUS
  6. How did I tolerate those who were different than me – older, younger, richer, poorer, sicker, happier, sadder, angrier, more loving, different culture/gender/ethnicity? How was I happy despite the differences and how did I create conditions for others to be happy? ACCEPT
  7. How flexible was I with the people, ideas, circumstances and the complexities of life? How did I negotiate the barriers I faced? How did I choose non-violence as an option? FLOW
  8. How did I think like a planetary citizen? When did I zoom out to get a bigger picture? Where did I contract to protect my vulnerability? BLESS

How do you celebrate Remembrance Day in a community that does not believe in war?

Peace Palace den Haag, NL

Peace Palace den Haag, NL

It’s a question I have never asked myself, until I moved into a community designed by the Mennonites. I knew they opposed the (Abbotsford) air show because it promoted war planes/machinery. And I knew they had been pacifists for centuries in many countries.

So I was surprised to meet Mennonites who actually value Remembrance Day – November 11 –   traditionally the celebration (in Commonwealth countries) for a city or country’s fallen soldiers. A time to remember (usually with parades and speeches at the war memorial) the loss and waste of life on the battle field – contemplating the victors and the vanquished in the hope that the sacrifices of the fallen will not be forgotten. Maybe they will even inoculate us against recreating the horrific circumstances of war again?

While I would not have thought the Mennonites would value Remembrance Day, I have learned that some appreciate it as an occasion to feel grateful for those who have sacrificed their lives, so that peace may predominate in the world. Ahh – peace is worth defending!! And though one chooses not to fight, one can take a stance, to peacefully support those who fight in defence of universal values like justice, goodness, truth, beauty, freedom.

That has made me re-think the relationship of those who value peace so much that they refuse to fight and the fighters themselves. In the greater scheme of things perhaps both are needed as simultaneous warriors in service to a greater good? The wielders of the sword act as warriors in defence of person, place, purpose (and planet) – they defend the values we embody, manifest and contain. While, the peace lovers act as warriors of the spirit, holding the intention for peace that supports the inner life and the values and visions that inspire the essence of who we are as a people, a city, a nation and even a species.

I am learning that in this day and age, we need both kinds of warriors, because as we negotiate the chaos of human-initiated dysfunctions that threaten our core values, if we do not defend what we have built, in both our inner and outer world, we undermine the future of peace.

I am Integral City.

Web of Conversations

Web of Conversations

I am a web of constant, connecting, mysteriously transformative conversations,

manifesting the 12 City Intelligences,[i] amongst my 4 voices[ii]

citizens, government, organizations, and businesses.

Some people align towards,

others resist,

co-creating a more beautiful and sustainable world.

Worldviews expand from self, to city, to world, then kosmocentric embrace,

honoring life-giving values,

redesigning ways for all my voices to relate

as they reshape systems

in the ecology of thoughts

as it evolves into greater intelligence and caring.


Some of my voices are Meshworkers,[iii]

asking in their connecting conversations:

“What dissolves or bypasses barriers and opens flow for life-giving change?”

They see specific potentials for more intelligence and evolution into a beautiful future.

They connect increasingly with one another and with Peer Spirits in and beyond Integral City

into the Planet of Cities.

They design new systems

through collective intelligence,

building new capacities in all my voices,

unblocking stuck systems,

and co-creating solutions

which embody within me,

Integral City,

Gaia’s desire for resilience.


This essay is part of a collection of dialogic essays written to celebrate the New Story of the City. We publish them in the week of the first World Cities Day (October 31) having first been inspired by by Kosmos Journal‘s invitation to tell a new story. Our team of Integral City Constellation Voices, Peer Spirits and Essayists includes: Joan Arnott, Alia Aurami, Cherie Beck, Diana Claire Douglas, Marilyn Hamilton, Linda Shore

The Voices in this dialogue are: Spirit of Integral City, Gaia, Integral City, Peer Spirits, Communities of Practice.

Each  voice is introduced by the Stage Directions:

Welcome, Connecting One(s), to this sapient circle. We gather here to constellate Indra’s Net for our Planet of Cities around this question “How does Integral City Connect for Change in Service to a Planet of Cities?” ( first asked by Kosmos Journal).  Welcome to you, Peer Spirits, who long to connect to the City and her Communities of Practice, to Gaia, and to Spirit who energizes us all. Listen …Integral City speaks …



[i] Integral City 12 Intelligences

[ii] 4 voices of Integral City

[iii] Meshworking Intelligence practiced by the Hague Center’s Anne-Marie Voorhoeve


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