Urban sustainability Essay

The current trend in Globalisation is widespread and causing agglomerations of many smaller towns, cities and even villages that surround major metropolitans as well as migrations, rural industria-lisations etc.The urbanisation of cities are greatly significant as they not only serve as financial centres but also are the main areas consisting of the consumer and manufacturing markets. Cities on an average contribute up to 85% of gross national product in high income economies as well as 73% in middle income economies (Keivani, 2010). Globally it is estimated that 55% of the population resides in urban areas and by the end of the mid-century about 68% of the worlds population is expected to reside in urban areas which is an additional 2 billion people than the present scenario. The rate of which urbanisation is taking place in cities is causing challenges for governments in terms of being able to provide basic services such as transport systems, jobs, housing, healthcare etc for all its residents. There are additional challenges too associated with the environment, such as cities require about two-third of the worlds energy and contribute to about 70% of GHG emissions, putting cities at further risks to climate related disasters. This indicates that on one hand urban systems need the ecosystem to function whereas on the other hand risk the existence of the same ecosystem by causing pollution, overuse of land and natural resources. Therefore it is essential for governments to build cities that are sustainable, safe and resilient, this will require strong policies and investment towards creating urban sustainable communities(World bank, 2018).There is no well-defined definition for urban sustainability as it is not a definite concept and modifications are been made to this concept based on the scenarios taken into consideration, however the definitions given in the 1997 report by U.S.A’s President’s Council on sustainable Development( PCSD) defines urban sustainability as “ Communities that flourish because they build a mutually supportive, dynamic balance between social wellbeing, economic opportunity, and environmental quality” (Shen et al, 2011).

The goal of cities to attain a sustainable urban environment requires them to carefully asses their use of natural resources, policies in place with respect to climate change mitigation and adaption, infrastructure, emissions, quality of life etc. This suggests that in order to achieve urban sustainability cities need to focus on 4 dimensions surrounding economics, environmental, social and governance factors (Science for Environmental policy, 2018).Therefore an indicator based approach will have to be implemented, wherein an indicator is a performance measure that quantifies data, such that it can calculated and monitored to estimate if there is any change taking place with respect to a particular dimension. The indicators selected in order to analyse the sustainable development of the city should follow certain common principles which require them to be clear, easy to evaluate and help with constructing data banks in a standardized form such that the knowledge acquired thus can be shared between similar urban cities government’s as well as further validated and improved upon through further by initiatives taken on by other cities (Hiremath et al, 2013). Therefore indicators are essential tools for policy formulation and while assessing policy implications. In order for cities to attain urban sustainability the first step that needs to be taken by urban planners and policy makers should involve establishing the dimensions that need to be considered and working out any synergies among them that could produce co-benefits.This has to be followed by formulating accurate designs, precise planning and implementation of programs associated with urban sustainability which may consist of forming partnerships with the public or stakeholders, setting targets, indicators and strategies that can scientifically accessed and implemented into policies. Lastly the outcomes acquired need to be analysed for their scale at local and global levels, identifying the gaps occurred and recessing the priorities accordingly to overcome them (National Academics of science, Engineering and medicine, 2016).

The challenges associated with cities achieving urban sustainability have been widely recognized during events and initiatives like Paris agreement, Local Agenda 21, UN’s 17 Sustainable development goals(SDGs) for 2030 within which SDG 11 is associated with forming sustainable cities and communities. Thus such initiatives and understanding that challenges associated with attaining urban sustainability move beyond territory has led to an increase in the cities networking and taking initiatives with respect to achieving sustainability. Cities are now formulating public-private partnership network’s(e.g., Rockefeller Foundations 100 resilient cities, WHO healthy cities, World bank etc), these networks have increased from 55 to 200 between 1985-2016 respectively ranging on issues such as climate, improving health, gender inequality etc. However there have been a few setbacks that have been observed such as low funding affecting research and data collection , lack of collaborations among cities and inadequate policy frameworks mechanisms between cities and national forums. Nevertheless organisations like the World bank are investing in cities to strengthen their finances and governance systems, aiding in urban transformation, infrastructure services etc. Similarly initiative are been taken by the C40 Cities climate leadership groups in order to bridge the gaps associated among cities while trying to collaborate data and research by helping them form partnerships with cooperation’s or large multilateral organisations (Doust et al, 2018). It is necessary for urban leaders and planners to scale up initiatives that have been successful at local levels to state or nation level to ascertain its effectiveness. Therefore there is a need to active involvement of public in urban sustainability programmes. A best practise of such an initiative was observed in Porto Alegre (South Brazil) when participatory budgets was implemented which allowed locals to voice their concerns to policy makers and make them aware of what issues needs urgent action and will have full support and cooperation from its citizens. This initiative led to improvement’s being made in terms of housing unit, water managements, health and education; similar initiatives are being reciprocated in other countries like Scotland, Germany etc. (National Academics of science, Engineering and medicine, 2016; Goldsmith, 1996).

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