One Planet Cities

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Cover of One Planet Cities book by David Thorpe‘One Planet’ Cities: Sustaining Humanity within Planetary Limits: David’s tenth book for Routledge.

How can the essential needs of the growing human population be met without breaking the Earth’s already-stretched life-support system? This title builds on the work of Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics and the Global Footprint Network.

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What it’s about

With four out of five people predicted to be urban dwellers by 2080, ‘One Planet’ Cities proposes a pathway to genuine sustainability for cities and neighborhoods, using an approach based on ‘contraction and convergence’.

Utilising interviews with key players, including the Global Footprint Network, World Future Council, WWF, mayors and officials, and case studies from across the globe, including Europe, North and South America, Australia, Sweden, South Africa, China, and India, David Thorpe examines all aspects of modern society from food provision to neighbourhood design, via industry, the circular economy, energy and transport through the critical lens of the ecological footprint and relevant supporting international standards and indicators.

Recommendations on managing supply chains and impacts, how the transition to a world within limits might be financed, and a deep examination of the Welsh Government’s pioneering efforts follow. It concludes with an imagined vision of what a genuinely sustainable future might be like, and an appeal for ‘one planeteers’ everywhere to step up to the challenge.

This book will be of great interest to practitioners and policymakers involved in governance, administration, urban environments and sustainability, alongside students of the built environment, urban planning, environmental policy and energy.

Download a presentation summary PDF [2.2MB].

Endorsements so far

  • “Your work is great. Fascinating. David Thorpe’s book is packed with ideas and inspiration – a gifted storyteller drawing together the strands of a new and hopeful collective story.” – George Marshall, founder of Climate Outreach, author of Don’t Even Think About It: Why our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.
  • “Ultimately, humanity needs to fit within what our planet can renew. Cities play a critical role. David Thorpe gifts us with countless examples of what cities already do and what is possible to support this needed transition.” – Mathis Wackernagel, Founder and Director, Global Footprint Network.
  • “An impressive survey of the options available to us.” – Professor Herbert Girardet, co-founder, World Futures Council
  • “We need help to navigate the global evidence and help us on that path. With this book, David has demonstrated that he can be that guide, helping us reach our own pathways at country, city or individual level on the basis of global science and evidence. Wherever you live, this book must be read and most importantly, acted upon.” – Jane Davidson, Director, INSPIRE Wales at the University of Wales Trinity St Davids.
  • “An excellent integration of social, economic and environmental regeneration.” – Storm Cunningham, Publisher of REVITALIZATION and author of The Restoration Economy
  • “I am sure the book is going to be a success.” – Pedro B. Ortiz, ex-Deputy Mayor of Madrid, Author “The Art of Shaping the Metropolis”, Senior Consultant on Metropolitan Management and Planning for International Governmental Organizations.
  • “Impressive work. An indispensable guide to what people are already doing around the world to ensure a sustainable future for us all.” – Ian Crawley, CLT Technical Advisor and a Trustee of the National CLT Network.
  • “David Thorpe is a fabulous writer who brings home on a very human level what the challenges of a warming climate really mean. His technical and evidence-based understanding, combined with his gift for simple language, makes this work a compelling read… It [contains] a cornucopia of solutions and proven alternatives that can inspire action. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the mechanisms in play with our changing planet and how we can hope to influence its current trajectory.” – Tina Perinotto, Managing Editor and founder, The Fifth Estate, Australia.
  • “A must-read for 2019. David continues his campaign to a saner way of life with this latest book.” – Mal Williams, Executive Director at Zero Waste International Trust.


Foreword by Herbert Girardet
Introduction: It’s time to end humanity’s war on nature
1. Do the stories we tell influence the future we will live in?
2. The ultimate problem: humanity’s limits to growth
3. Ecological footprinting and other standards
4. Choosing which standards to use
5. Feeding cities while saving the planet
6. Regenerative cities
7. Zero carbon cities
8. Transforming industry to become ‘one planet’
9. Managing water in the age of change
10. ‘One planet’ neighbourhoods
11. Buildings in a ‘one planet’ city
12. Mobility in a ‘one planet’ city
13. How smart is a ‘smart city’?
14. Financing the way to a ‘one planet’ future
15. A menu of case studies
16. Wales and one planet development
17. Six steps to a one planet city
18. One Day in a One Planet City – a short story