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The City Norm

Mikael Lindström, you are one of the experts in the project “A Cellulose-Based Society”. Can you explain what the trend “The City Norm” is about?
People have been living in cities for thousands of years, and the global shift from rural to urban living has been a defining trend for more than a century. But the rate and magnitude of urbanization today is nevertheless placing it at the centre of human development. Right now, even though more than half of us already live in cities, we are witnessing the largest wave of urban migration in human history. But it’s still just the beginning. The city, and urban ways of life, is rapidly becoming the new norm – reshaping and redefining the future of humanity.

What factors led to the result of this trend?
Mikael LindströmUrbanisation and migration are changing our world. Living in large cities is resource-effective, but food and raw materials are largely produced outside of the city. We talk about a future waste-free society in which resource efficiency and the bioeconomy will mean that we adopt an integrated view of materials and energy flows. We talk about “urban mining”, where we will have full control of the materials circulating around the city or which are temporarily available for use for a fixed period. Food waste needs to be managed locally and transformed into energy or, if possible, materials. Mega Cities is an exciting challenge for interdisciplinary research and for our industrial sector! 

What impacts can we expect from this trend? 
I think mega city states will become more common. The question is what influence will satellite towns or the countryside have? What does this mean for the forestry industries? Will mill control rooms be situated in Manhattan and production be controlled by the temporary needs of the city? Will it be possible to deliver energy and materials as services to cities, where they are then transformed according to need? Packaging is a service; packaging is material and energy! One challenge will be to provide a complete service, regardless of whether you live within or outside a mega city, otherwise it will lead to segregation. New business models lead to a new type of consumption - more services and experiences are pure material consumption. Maybe inveterate city dwellers in the Experience Society of the future will seek out the forest as a kind of recreational amusement park, something in the style of hollyWOODS?


Mikael Lindström
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