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London 'must take lead on sustainable development'

London deputy mayor Nicky Gavron has called for cities to take the lead in sustainable development. Addressing the Global Alliance for Building Sustainability (GABS) in Johannesburg last week, she said cities such as London must set an example.

'London encapsulates a lot of problems around the world, ' she said. 'It has a huge duty to take the lead.'Gavron told the AJ the first meeting of GABS had been a resounding success, particularly its achievements in bringing together the different professions involved in construction.

The Greater London Authority will be working with the professions to push environmentally sensitive design, she said, and will produce guidelines on sustainability to help architects achieve it.

The 42 organisations that attended GABS signed up to a charter for action, pledging to work to set benchmarks and standards of sustainable development. Organisations include the RIBA, the RICS, Commonwealth Association of Architects and International Facility Management Association.

Environment minister Michael Meacher also spoke at the event, welcoming recognition that the built environment is a major contributor to global warming. Meacher will be meeting RIBA president Paul Hyett and RICS Foundation chief executive David Fitzpatrick to to discuss how government can further support the GABS initiative.

Hyett dismissed suggestions that the event was simply a talking shop, claiming real progress had been made at the meeting. 'Ecological design is on the agenda, ' he said. 'There isn't time for turf wars, there isn't time for complacency or for cynicism.

This is the time for working rapidly together for intelligent solutions.'

Hyett added that he had pledged to raise funding for additional scholarships for South African students to study in the UK.

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