Dr. Janice Lao


Janice Lao

Global Sustainability Expert; 2019 Edie Sustainability Leader Awardee

As  an environmental scientist and economist, I love analyzing data and trends to future-cast. While we have been using the words “unprecedented” and  “difficult times” more often than we ever have, if we looked at the data, this pandemic was waiting to happen. 

With the trend of increasing urbanization and development in the past 30 years that has led to  significant encroachment into nature, a zoonotic virus such as Covid-19 was inevitable. The statistics are staggering-up to 1 million species now threatened to be extinct, with more than 60  percent of forests and marine habitats severely altered by human action. This is worrisome because humans rely so heavily on nature for our sustenance and livelihood. 

As we prepare for our new normal post-pandemic, we should plan for cities not to put  considerable pressure on natural resources. We have to rethink the way we design cities with  more open spaces and allowing for safe interaction with nature. We need to create no-development zones to allow for wildlife species to remain wild and reduce human encroachment. We must develop an economy that works within nature’s constraints and  allows for everyone to reap in its benefits fairly.

This is an excerpt from the FINN Partners Future Cities Report. It details 20 reflections on the post-pandemic reawakening of our cities and neighborhoods, penned by industry thought leaders.