Urbanization and the  Future of Cities  Strategies For Establishing Sustainability & Efficiency

Urbanization and the Future of Cities Strategies For Establishing Sustainability & Efficiency

For the past few decades, urbanization has grown exponentially around the world, where more and more people are moving to cities. Since 2009, the UN Habitat estimates that over 3 million people move to cities every week given that urban areas offer migrants in hopes of finding a better job and a higher standard of living. The increasing population numbers have raised issues of congestion, distribution of resources, and increased pressure on waste management infrastructure, healthcare, and education. By 2050, it is estimated that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, which makes the concept of Sustainable Cities an efficient resolution to the growing population. This urbanization trend has ensued movements to improve residents’ lives by focusing on environmental initiatives and projects such as limiting CO2 gas emissions in the air, using renewable energy sources, or bringing awareness to environmental issues. As such, many cities worldwide are redesigning their city planning strategies and contributing with initiatives to address these issues directly.

As rapid urbanization, aging infrastructure, population growth and climate change continue to challenge our world’s cities, those that choose to make bold moves in diversifying their urban transport systems are surely gaining a competitive edge: investing in improved and sustainable mobility is giving cities enhanced productivity, attractiveness and overall quality of life. A standstill is not a viable option.

Cities are in part defined by their distinct urban transport systems. Undoubtedly, the three common woes that residents reference about their city regarding mobility are the cost and time (including dependability) of their commute and air quality.

Additionally, an imperative for sustainable urban living is to design and retrofit cities that move residents from the automobile to mass transit, cycling and walking based lifestyles.

Not all cities are well-placed in their mobility journey, as some have complex and aging systems while others are building new networks.

SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

More than half of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas. By 2050, that figure will have risen to 6.5 billion people, or two-thirds of all humanity. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces. The rapid growth of cities in the developing world, coupled with increasing rural to urban migration, has led to a boom in mega-cities. In 1990, there were 10 mega-cities with 10 million inhabitants or more. In 2014, there are 28 mega-cities, home to a total 453 million people. Extreme poverty is often concentrated in urban spaces, and national and city governments struggle to accommodate the rising population in these areas. For cities to be safe and sustainable, ensuring access to safe and affordable housing is necessary, and abolishing slum settlements is required. It also involves investment in public transport, creating green public spaces, and improving urban planning and management in a way that is both participatory and inclusive.

Among the targets in SDG11 is to enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries; reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management; support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning; and to support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials.

Mobility also enables access to workplaces and resources, which subsequently assesses the efficiency and reliability of a city’s urban transport system to facilitate growth and support business.

Increasingly, cities are facing enormous pressures as they seek to meet today’s mobility challenges. Modern cities must be proactive around rapid urbanization, climate change, and pollution while attracting commercial business and competing with other cities for investment. Today’s policymakers must meet those immediate needs, without compromising the needs of tomorrow since their actions will be critical for shaping our urban future. Although every city has its own distinct mobility system built to deal with its own unique environment, certain key metrics can be used to compare systems around the world, possibly by measuring the social, environmental and economic health of a city’s mobility.

A Sustainable Transport Network in Lebanon?

For a city’s transport network to be effective and functional for all residents, comprehensive coverage is required. Patchy transport systems mean that many residents will opt to use private transport instead – as is the dilemma currently present in the densely-populated Lebanese capital. A newly renovated or expanded network, which customers can rely upon day and night, allows people to travel freely at their own convenience. Cities with comprehensive public transport coverage tend to get citizens out of private vehicles, which can be costly both in terms of pollution and congestion.

A one-size-fits-all strategy may not exist for sustainable mobility for cities like Beirut, especially when mobility challenges differ from city to city and vary according to geographical, ecological, economic and political factors. Lebanon presents another example of an emerging country that has important steps to take to become sustainable and to cope with its mobility challenges. Lebanon also needs to implement policies and put in place practices that allow it to efficiently manage its mobility systems. The task of improving a city’s mobility can easily become weighed down by concerns over cost and can get lost in the bureaucratic processes of the government.

Cities have a great opportunity to improve their citizens’ quality of life and visitors’ experiences. With boldness of vision – the willingness to make brave decisions, financial investment and focus on relevant priorities – Lebanon can create a better future.

 

 

Author: Responsible Business - Beirut

Source: Responsible Business 

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All, 2018

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