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Interview: 5 Minutes with Carlos Moreno
Joe Appleton28. October 20224 min read

Interview: 5 Minutes with Carlos Moreno

We were lucky enough to listen to an exciting talk by Carlos Moreno at an event in Poznan in October 2022. After the event, we managed to have a quick chat with Carlos and discuss the 15-minute city concept and the future of smart and sustainable cities.

As many of you will know, Carlos Moreno is the driving force behind the now well-established and well-known 15-minute city concept. The Franco-Columbian Scientific Director of the Chair '''Entrepreneurship Territory Innovation'', at the Sorbonne University-IAE Paris, is one of the most renowned experts on modern urban planning and one of the great smart city thought leaders of our time.

His work has been cast into the spotlight in recent years as the 15-minute city and living smart city concepts have been championed by Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo. Together, Moreno and Hidalgo have been working to bring Paris into a post-automobile age, using the 15-minute at the very centre of Hidalgo’s political campaigns.

Naturally, Carlos Moreno is constantly in demand, so we were very fortunate when we were able to borrow five minutes of his time.

15-Minute Cities with Carlos Moreno

Carlos, thank you for joining me here.

No, no. It’s my pleasure.

Rather than cover old ground with the 15-minute city concept, I’d like ask you some more speculative questions instead. Would that be alright?

Of course, the 15-minute city is well-known, so yes, I am ready for a challenge!

Let’s start with a broad question: what are some important emerging trends with 15-minute cities and smart sustainable cities in general?

We no longer have a choice today, with regard to climate change, not to build and sustainable cities. These sustainable cities need to reduce our CO2 emissions and we need to develop hyper-local economies, and to focus on building greater social inclusions.

A lot has been written about the potential and the positive side of 15-minute cities, but can we talk about some negatives? In a recent Q&A with Carlo Ratti, I asked him about potential challenges towards this kind of urban design.

Ah, Carlo, he is a great colleague of mine!

Absolutely. One potential pitfall that he mentioned was the potential for 15-minute cities to create concentrated diasporas. Perhaps even segregated communities or monocultured districts. How would you respond to that?

Our enemy in any city is mono-cultured activities or mono-cultured functions. This is why we have to focus and prioritise multi-functional developments. If you have the possibility for developing a new or existing district with a multi-purpose function that includes economical activities, cultural activities, artistic activities, educational facilities, and medical facilities too, functions that make better use out of the infrastructure, we will make huge progress. We can automatically reduce our CO2 footprint, we will increase our economic performance, and all in all, we will create more humanistic and socially inclusive neighourhoods. Inclusivity is so important that cities must work with communities to create socially and culturally diverse districts.

Which disruptive technologies are being used to help further the 15-minute City cause?

We certainly need technological disruptions for developing more close-proximity cities. These technological disruptions, for example, could be platforms, such as mobility platforms, or cycling in a city. We need technology to improve bikeability, for improving sharing capabilities, and even for things like a participatory budget.

We need comprehensive technological platforms for managing it all. We need platforms for monitoring everything, for example, we could talk about pollution, we need ways to monitor fine particles, so we need access to new technological solutions to help tackle these problems.

Platforms are very important.

What are your predictions for the next years?

To look into the future, we can look at what has happened in the recent past. The pandemic helped to accelerate interest in the 15-minute city concept and many people have seen the importance of developing mixed-use areas within a certain proximity, whether it’s 15 minutes, 10 minutes, or even 30 minutes.

The situation forced many cities and citizens to turn away from long commutes, to see the problems with the misuse of buildings, and to understand the value of social interactions. At the same time, we have important climate goals and sustainability goals that we need to keep, so I see a greater focus on sustainability, sociability, and the overall well-being of citizens in the future.

Carlos, thank you for your time! I hope we can catch up again in Barcelona at the expo!

Absolutely. Thank you so much! Ciao ciao.


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Joe Appleton

Joe Appleton is a content strategist, editor and writer at bee smart city. He is particularly interested in the topics of smart and sustainable cities and urban mobility.