The United Nations Development Programme listed Sustainable Urbanisation as its most recent goals towards achieving sustainable development across all walks of life. Needless to say that with over 5 billion people across the globe living in urban areas, about 60% of the overall population, it was about time that such a step was taken.
The gravity of the matter can be further gauged from the fact that this population inhabits less than 5% of the overall habitable space and still accounts for 50-60% of the energy consumption globally, amounting to at least 70% of the carbon emissions. The slums which again form a major feature of the city populace amount to a population of about 828 million and rising. And finally, as we look towards the future, these cities, which form 80% of the global economic contribution, about 90% of these would then be in developing countries.
It would thus be not an exaggeration to say that the world will soon turn towards countries like India for spearheading the sustainable development campaign in general. That being said, what is Sustainable Urbanisation though? This blog will talk about that!
Sustainable Urbanisation: A Definition
It goes without saying that cities, despite being the places where people come to fulfil their dreams aren’t the places where one could always live comfortably. Take the case of Delhi with its polluted air, Shanghai with its “toilet-apartments”, or New York with its too difficult to sustain living in general. These cities are the places where dreams come true but then sustaining there, that is where the problem comes. The western world and more so cities alone account for over 60% of the polymer-based waste and the extent is so massive that they have to buy the carbon footprints from countries like India only so that they could not exceed the overall carbon credit limit set for the world.
“Sustainable Urbanism or Sustainable Urbanisation is the study of both the cities as well as the probable practices in order to turn the former into a long term viable version of themselves through the reduction in consumption of non-eco-friendly products; thereby reducing the harmful effect on the people and the place while enhancing the overall well being of the entire ecosystem”
Understanding the Elements Involved and the Need Thereof
In this section, we will list out the principles over which the entire sustainable urbanisation concept would stand. Understanding them and the need for why they were chosen will be of the essence in understanding the gravity of the topic on the whole.
This factor is a measure of how well the population and infrastructure have spread out across the entire stretch of the city. A low density or low compactness means that people will have to travel long distances to reach a place which means there would be an increased dependency on private vehicles which in turn would mean increased levels of the population.
It is important to note here that compactness is not just about the population spread. Rather it is a cumulative score given to the spread of population as well as infrastructure.
This pillar of sustainable urbanisation will entail integration of infrastructural design with the overall population and hence help with the more holistic development of per capita infrastructure required, a shift from the absolute infrastructure mode nations usually use.
The second pillar for sustainable urbanisation, it specifically addresses the connection between humans and other living systems. Biophilic cities are still a concept in making, much on the line of smart cities only in the latter the focus would be towards building infrastructure in such a way that it allows for open spaces, green corridors as well as blue corridors. Such cities would also entail sustainable methods for farming and sustainable employment general modes
Envisioned much on the lines of wildlife corridors, sustainable corridors would allow people to pass on from one place to another through more energy-efficient modes. Focus on Public transport usage could also be termed as one of the implications of these corridors just that the effort would be to ensure that the fuel being used is sustainable too, unlike the fossil fuels being used in most public transport modes of today. In addition to this, these sustainable corridors will also provide for easy, hassle-free passage of animals around as well without disturbing the usual human life.
Improved Indoor Environment
This would entail improvement of the overall breathable air quality by removal of volatile organic compounds This would also include steps such as source reduction and high-performance infrastructure creation. Source reduction, as the name hints would be about reducing the dependence on non-renewable sources of energy and shift towards the more eco-friendly alternatives. While high-performance infrastructure would involve selection of the public right of way, encompassing street sidewalks, underground utilities, stormwater infrastructure, streetscape elements etc among others.
Multifunctional Component Utilisation
Let us take the example of permeable pavement for the reduction of stormwater runoff and using the water thus collected to supply for the energy demands across. Another example would be to use reclaimed supplementary cement materials in order to increase the pavement strength. Thus, sustainability would involve utilising multiple components from unrelated domains towards the creation of a holistic scenario.
Now, while we have mentioned a lot of theoretical bits, ultimately the goal of sustainable urbanisation is towards the provision of safe potable water, better sanitation conditions, better housing; population and infrastructure management etc among other basic rights that every human being holds in order to sustain.
Through this blog, we tried to set the context. Over the next few days, we will talk about how each of the aforementioned concerns is planned to be addressed.
And in the meanwhile, do let us know if you have something great to share too and we will be happy to include that!