The United Nations has set the agenda for the implementation of 17 sustainable development goals up to 2030 aimed at enhancing human well-being while protecting the planet. Goal 12 of this agenda is the responsible consumption of resources by ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. In order to draw the attention of the public and interested parties, the Lithuanian Business Support Agency in cooperation with the Ecological Design Association initiated the first unique conference in Lithuania called ‘Sustainable Settlement for Healthy Living’ and invited Lithuanian and foreign architects, urbanists, designers, builders and scientists to attend it.
‘The topic of sustainability has now become extremely relevant moving from a linear economic model to a circular one. We have many different challenges, we have an ecological crisis and we must tackle it urgently. We strive to bring people from a variety of fields together and see what different professionals are doing in that field. We want to reflect on how we can combine joint forces in business, science, design and the environment and work together more efficiently,’ says Simonas Tarvydas, a designer and member of the Ecological Design Association, one of the event originators.
Ignas Uogintas, an architect of DO ARCHITECTS, agrees with him. When asked what we need to become a sustainable society, the architect says that we need to learn how to cooperate. ‘Significant conclusions can be reached only when working together in a team, not only with architects, but with communities, designers, clients, and municipalities, and understanding each other's problems. It is difficult to hear each other out, but this is necessary and inevitable. That's why it's important to talk about sustainability too - on the one hand, it allows you to organise your ideas, and on the other hand, it helps you to understand others, and then look for common ground and think about what we can do together,’ says I. Uogintas.
‘When designing cities, we, architects, are influencing the life of the city for the next hundred or maybe two hundred years or more, so it is an enormous responsibility for us. For this reason, it is very important for us to understand the broad social, economic, political, cultural context of the location. When designing you also need to understand what the local community - both the community which has been already established and the community what will be established in the future - needs,’ notes the architect.
Urbanist Martynas Marozas argues that the components of a sustainable city, namely environment, economy, society, technical, spatial and process quality are directly linked, and there are no ‘shorter’ paths to the sustainable urban development - just a measured and calculated, discussed, quality implemented, adaptable and sustainable city that has everything needed, but not one centimetre more.
Jekaterina Rojaka, Vice-Minister of Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania, also emphasizes the importance of the socio-economic context for sustainable development. According to J. Rojaka, it is crucial for Lithuania to implement sustainable innovations due to the competitiveness of Lithuanian business in international markets and the challenges posed by the aging population. According to the Vice-Minister, the working life of population should increase in the future so we must think today about people's health and increasing life expectancy.
‘The vision of the future is an inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable settlement. When it comes to a sustainable future, industry is usually highlighted as a major issue; however, the real problem lies not in the industry or transport sector, but the construction field. About 40% of all raw materials and about 41% of all energy in the world are used for construction. Therefore, it is very important to think through what materials are used in construction and how to move towards green building principles. Sustainable building materials, energy savings, the circular economy, reducing plastic pollution, as well as active social movement, education, transparency, and digital solutions are the subjects that dominate today on all agendas,’ says J. Rojaka.
Dr. Jurgen Lorenz, Austrian scientist, founder of Viva Research Park, supports this position as well. ‘Only the right design solutions and the right materials can provide a naturally healthy microclimate that is crucial to our well-being and comfort. In addition, this also allows reducing our dependence on energy resources and technologies, and ensures a balanced interaction with the environment. After all, a healthy person is the foundation of a harmonious and sustainable society,’ says the scientist.
The conference ‘Sustainable Settlement for a Healthy Life’ sought to look at the relationship between the man and the surrounding environment.