First of all, I like to tell you that it is a myth that sustainability is just about clean environment. In fact it has much broader meaning and environment is one part of it. I think because we can develop a city only once and it will remain there for next 100 years, they are critical in every aspect of sustainable development. To make this happen, following challenges need to be addressed in parallel with each other across all future cities:
– As cities will grow bigger in size, existing administration structure will be unable to meet the demands of fast & effective decision making. The ease in decision making is the central element in planning future development, key government policy formulation & time bound completion of projects. Fine tuning existing bureaucratic structure is the stepping stone in the road towards sustainable development in cities.
– People are flocking towards cities in search of better life style, better living conditions and better jobs. Without proper attention to these needs, their dreams might turn into nightmares. Lack of proper attention in past led to informal settlements(slums) in many cities of the world. These communities are not able to access the basic living necessities, education, and rising crime rates in these areas just made it worse. Initiating citizen dialogue and prior attention can bring such communities in the mainstream life. Medellin, Colombia is one of the best example for this.
Investing in future
– Taking example from Denmark, we must work to create a sustainable generation going to live in cities by educating our kids. We can teach them to love bicycling, waste recycling and effectively using natural resources.
As cities will become epicenter of human activity, we need to find innovative ways to feed such large population. Multistory farming is one such idea, already implemented in some big cities. Promoting individual farming, like growing your own food in balconies done by some people in China will be a smart move.
There is a slogan, ‘prevention is better than the cure’. We have to develop technologies, which consume less energy, produce less waste and coming with recyclable attributes. As some big cities have already started to experience high level of air pollution and polluted water, I should say. ‘Let’s do something before it gets too late to act’.
– Even though technologies has taken some of our personal space, we are still a human. We love to interact, socialize and feel good living as a part of the society. As high rise buildings will be our future housing, we have to preserve this very social element of being human. Creating a new living place, where people from different ethnicity, religion, nationality, background can live in harmony with each other with social element remain intact is the key towards developing healthy society.
– Future cities will be built on the based of our existing cities. As I can see easily, most of the developing countries have lack of funds, lack of willingness or some other circumstance preventing them to build new cities by removing old towns. In clear words, it is impossible to built everything new. So what should we do? I think, it is better to retrofit the existing infrastructure with slight modification, than completely overhauling it. I can recall similar developments in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.
Last but not the least, I think 600 words are too less for me to describe my thoughts. I like to say this to everyone who is reading. ‘Let’s join hands, work together and make this world a better place to live!!’.
Blog post to participate in the: Masdar’s 2014 Engage Blogging Contest: Smart Cities & Sustainable Development