By the end of the twentieth-century mankind is involved in unprecedented experiment of building towns, smart cities and metro cities. Moreover human beings are transforming themselves to an urban species. Cities are becoming our main habitat and human settlement. We can say cities and life in the cities will decide the destiny of man. The cities and their functioning, will determine the nature of the biosphere. So there will be no sustainable world without sustainable cities. Therefore, I can convincingly say that it is possible for sustainable cities and for a sustainable world by integrated planning and effective management of available resources.
The destiny of mankind is closely linked to the success or failure of human settlements. Many cities and towns have existed continuously for thousands of years but others have turned into dead cities and deserts. They got collapsed because of destroying the environment exploiting the resources, or following social disaster or war.
According to one estimate some 80 percent of the European, American and Australian population live in cities. Asia and Africa have an even population distribution between city and country. Due to industrialization and economic growth rapid migration to cities takes place and it changes the situation there.
In recent years the attentions of city planners and thinkers have been focused on the problems of deprivation, alienation, crime and social discontent found in cities. Cities as cultural centers have received much attention. But environmental problems within the cities and sustainability have to be widely discussed and publicized, particularly those resulting from air and water pollution, lack of sanitation and waste management and poor working and housing conditions.
Urban development is closely associated with huge resource consumption. City people in developing countries consume much more fuel, metal, timber, meat and manufactured product than their rural counterparts. We have to ensure the implementation of proper policies and popular initiatives for the efficient use of resources by the cities.
Modern cities, as centers of mobilization, have vast environmental impacts. With appropriate measures, cities could prosper with a dramatic reduction in resource and energy consumption. Waste recycling can reduce urban use of resources while creating many new jobs. New materials and architectural designs can improve the environmental performance of buildings in cities. Cities can adopt new approaches to transport planning and management. We can improve the experience of urban living by setting up new urban villages.
A sustainable city is organized so as to enable all its citizens to meet their own needs and to enhance their well-being without damaging the natural world or endangering the living conditions of other people, now or in the future. This definition emphasizes people and their long term needs like good quality air and water healthy food, good housing, quality education, satisfying the old and the disabled. In a sustainable city all the citizens should be able to meet these needs without damaging the earth.
We have yet to learn how to improve the metabolism of our cities and to reduce their damaging effect on the ecology. By adopting effective ways we can make the functioning of our cities less damaging and wasteful than what they are now.
There are some more methods by which we can make sustainable cities.
Make buildings more energy efficient by using wall materials which could convert solar energy
Roof-top garden and plant cultivation in flats and apartments
Preservation of historic and natural assets
Upgrade power infrastructure
Hydrogen economy in vehicles for a pollution free environment
Improve mass transit
Earthquake resistive buildings using rubber-based basement materials
Effective waste recycling techniques
Protection and maintenance of water resources
Clean and healthy air surveillance
By Abhinav Abhilash