Sustainable Cities: Sustainable Urban Transformation is Essential for Rapid Urbanization

Tanver Hossain

Urbanization is increasing rapidly since 2007. It’s becoming a trend over the next several decades in East Asia, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, Where is concentrated with mass of extreme poverty. Currently, more than half of the world’s seven billion people has been living in cities. By 2030 there will be over one billion more urban residents and for the first time ever in many parts of the world the number of rural residents will start to shrink (SDSN 2013). Between 2010 and 2050, the urban population will grow significantly, by 2.5 to 3 billion people, increasing the urban share to two-thirds of the world’s population (SDSN 2013).

Urbanization is play a key role of social and economic development of a nation. Mostly global economy is urban that’s why people shifted in city. There have faced an accommodation crisis for rapid shifting. So, in many countries the numbers of slum dwellers are increasing significantly day by day and urban inequality is condensing. On the other hand, it is very hard to undo or reconstruct if mistakes made in managing urban growth. Without adequate management and investments, Slums may expand. For inequalities, exclusion, and violence may increase. Over population produce more waste and may it tough to manage. In industry uses more energy for production.

Urban areas are polluting by fossil fuel burning, industrial effluent and emissions, Automobile etc. Cities are the highest consumers of energy and responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (WBG). For this circumstances, cities need to sustainable urban transformation to make sustainable cities. Cities need to implement innovative ideas to efficiently manage urbanization. City governments have to need to able serve their growing populations, offering good public transport options, access to clean water, effective waste management, and essential basic services for making city sustainable.

What is sustainable cities? Sustainable cities is a city designed with consideration for social, economic, environmental impact, and resilient habitat for existing populations, without compromising the ability of future generations to experience the same. These cities are inhabited by people whom are dedicated towards minimizing required inputs of energy, water, food, waste, output of heat, air pollution – CO2, methane, and water pollution. Urban areas and sustainability relationship is very essential to make green economy. Sustainable cities concept first come from book of “Ecocity Berkeley: Building Cities for a Healthy Future” which written by Richard Register in 1987, where he offers innovative city planning solutions.

Ideally, a sustainable city creates an enduring way of life across the four domains of ecology, economics, politics and culture.

Goals of a sustainable city are to be able to feed itself with a sustainable reliance on the surrounding natural environment and have the ability to power itself with renewable sources of energy.

So, sustainable urban transformation is accelerate the global economy, sustainable urban development and it is environmentally beneficial. Cities need to implement innovative ideas to efficiently manage urbanization. City government have to need to able serve their growing populations, offering good public transport options, access to clean water, effective waste management, and essential basic services for making city sustainable.

Sustainable urban transformation is creating technically sustainable urban areas and stimulating economic development. It must engage, attract and excite people about opportunities and lifestyles today and into the future. In the other hand, to enhance awareness of climate change and sustainable development has not created powerful initiatives that are shifting urban development in a sustainable, resilient and low carbon direction. Many factor should be engaged for this situation, including inadequate political, business or broader social support, fragmentation in research activities as well as in urban practice and planning, limited coordination between international, national and local levels, and a significant separation between science and practice.

The concept of sustainable urban transformation places the emphasis on understanding cities as a source of possibilities for sustainability, promoting active collaboration among diverse stakeholders, and integrating different perspectives and bodies of knowledge and expertise. There are two immediate points to make a basic framework. There are two dimensions of sustainable unban transformation that are drivers of changes and the divers of changes of sustainable urban structures.

Moreover, it is essential to make differentiate between sustainable urban development and sustainable urban transformation. Camagni (1998) provides a constructive definition of sustainable urban development as “a process of synergistic integration and co-evolution among great subsystems making up a city (economic, social, physical and environmental), which guarantees the local population a non-decreasing level of well-being in the long term, without compromising the possibilities of development of surrounding areas and contributing by this towards reducing the harmful effects of development on the biosphere”. Sustainable urban transformation makes urban sustainable.

1. Drivers of changes: The drivers of change is contains governance and planning, innovation and competitiveness, and lifestyle and consumption. Below are some short explanations of these key drivers and their relationships with each other.

1.1. Governance and planning: To fulfil sustainable cities ambitious target, there is a need to analyze and practice different strategies including effective strategic planning and integration of policy instruments. Such efforts should be interconnected across sectors and be adapted for specific urban and national policy conditions to ensure empowerment, engagement and collaboration of relevant stakeholders.

1.2. Innovation and competitiveness: There are important challenges facing cities and local municipalities with regard to reconciling economic growth and maintaining or restoring the local and global environment (Wheeler, & Beatley, 2010). Innovation and clean technology are considered as necessary for developing a green economy. Therefore sustainable urban economic development must make a relationships among industries, governments, universities and citizens to ensure sustainable management of human, ecological and economic capital, and turn density and urban systems into eco-efficiency (Simpson, 2010).

1.3. Lifestyle and consumption: Socio-economic and cultural development in the urban setting is important and needs to be further developed to effectively support the planning and implementation of sustainable urban governance strategies. The negative implications of overconsumption are particularly evident in cities (Rode, 2009). UN-Habitat (2008) suggests that “harmony within cities hinges not only on prosperity and its attendant benefits, but on two pillars that make harmony possible: equity and sustainability”. By defining an improved quality of life and creating visions of sustainable lifestyles it will be possible to outline how to design, support and govern more sustainable cities.

2. Sustainable urban structures: The second part of framework for sustainable urban transformation is sustainable urban structures include resource management and climate mitigation and adaptation, transport and accessibility, buildings, and spatial environment and public space.

Below are some short explanations of these key structures and their relationships with each other.

2.1. Resource management and climate mitigation and adaptation: Sound resource management and design of urban structures can mitigate and adapt to climate change are major challenges for cities. Urban systems must be multi-functional and be able to integrate ecological, economic, recreational and aesthetic values (WWF, 2010). Key areas include: shifting urban energy systems towards renewable sources; increasing energy and material efficiency; ensuring sustainable management of the quality and sufficiency of water supply; and transforming waste management into sustainable material and energy usage.

2.2. Transport and accessibility: The transportation is very significant for environmental and social impacts. Sustainable urban transport research and practice has focused on specific problems such as pollution, road safety and on various measures and their effects. However, in order to create sustainable mobility in the urban context, a more integrated approach is needed, which simultaneously addresses energy security, environmental and social impacts, accessibility issues, urban conditions, and equitable economic development (Sukhdev, 2009).

2.3. Buildings: The challenge for the building and construction sector is to create affordable, attractive, comfortable and sustainable buildings, which help their occupants to mitigate contributions to climate change, utilize renewable energy, reduce excessive material consumption as well as incorporate principles of reuse, whilst adapting to changing environmental realities (Rode et al., 2011). The proficiency of this strategies also includes understanding of human behavior and consumption in the context of the built environment.

2.4. Spatial environment and public space: Urban development planning increasingly focuses upon the spatial environment in terms of the revitalization of districts and city centers, urban public spaces and the interconnection of fragmented urban landscapes, and to develop a continuous and welcoming web of humane livability within the urban experience (UN-Habitat, 2008; Roseland 1997).

Sustainable urban transformation is a pathway to make sustainable cities. In other words, intelligently designed cities can respond to the major environmental, social and economic challenges of the 21st century (Rode, 2009). The transformation of cities towards sustainability should be broad, multi-dimensional and radial change that equates to a significant shift in development paths. Sustainable urban transformation is shifting urban development in sustainable, resilient and low carbon direction, it also manage the urban ecosystems and protect from environmental degradation. Sustainable urban transformation play a key roles to make the economy green.

Author is an Associate Editor at The Environment Review


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