A city councilor and television talk show host for over a decade, Gísli Marteinn Baldursson has been a key figure in putting sustainable urban planning on the political agenda in Reykjavík and Iceland. Concerned with the increasing urban sprawl and related problems of air and water pollution, traffic congestion and public health issues, he has devoted himself to the improvement of his city by writing, speaking and building consensus for re-densification and smart planning.
As chairman of the Committee for Environment and Transport, Baldursson introduced Green Steps for Reykjavík, which outlined measures like recycling, public transportation and bicycle-friendly streets. In a contentious political environment, all political parties endorsed his Bicycle Master plan, which has significantly contributed to a tenfold increase in bicycle commuting over 10 years. He believes the recently-completed municipal plan for Reykjavík, which he has worked on since 2006, will be a turning point in the development of the city.
Baldursson is very interested in the democratic aspect of city planning. During his Loeb year, he will study how to mobilize grassroots organizations and build public support for difficult or controversial projects that achieve greater equity. He is seeking technical and theoretical expertise that will make him more effective in communicating about urban issues and innovative solutions.