With estimates that 60% of the world’s population will be living in urban environments by 2050, it could be said that the future will be city-centric. We hear a lot about urban growth and the rise of cities, but how do we make them sustainable?
As an introverted, nature loving individual, I personally find the peaceful rythms of nature more soothing than the fast pace of the city. However, there is something invigorating about a city 'planned right'. These cities have soul. They embrace culture, are safe and happy places to live, and provide creative opportunities to one and all. They are sustainable. So what do they look like?
Often our urban environments have been planned without acknowledgement of the intrinsic ties between humans and nature. Indeed, so many of us have forgotten that we are in fact a part of the ecosystem, and our cities tend to exclude flora and other animals rather than inviting them into our backyards. Sustainable cities invite nature back into our lives through urban greenspaces, natural water management systems, and biomimicry.
Cities should also promote equity. This can be achieved in a myriad of ways such as providing pedestrian focused transport heirarchies, public spaces that encourage interaction between all demographics (for example, the elderly and children), and ensuring that everyone has equitable access to education, amenities and healthy food. Cities should be vibrant places that foster creativity and reduce unneccessary workloads.
Our urban environments must also be prepared for the future. This partly ties into inclusivity, as resilient cities must provide the space for business, organisations and community groups to connect and built networks. They should allow their occupants to grow their own food and encourage the sharing economy. Our cities should be built with robustness in mind, preparing for a range of potential climate change impacts.
However, the above three points are only really the tip of the iceberg. To achieve the above requires holistic thinking with the input of all possible disciplines and stakeholders. Creating a sustainable city must include us all.