Is an Urban Future Sustainable?
Globally, urbanization is growing increasingly common, and as it rapidly increases, the need for new infrastructure and urban planning to accommodate the rising population increases as well. However, urban areas are important factors contributing to greenhouse gas emission as an increase in population leads to an increase in consumption; there would be more resources used and more waste produced. Thus, smart urban planning must be applied to reduce carbon intensity and greenhouse gasses in urban areas, mitigating the dire environmental impacts caused by urbanization.
According to a director of environment and disaster management at WWF, “Urbanization itself is not responsible for the environmental threats facing the world. Unplanned and poorly managed urbanization is.” There is quite a significant difference between well planned and well managed urbanization and unplanned, poorly managed urbanization, for good urban planning is “climate-informed, strategic, integrated and supported across multiple sectors” while also including “environmental management and disaster risk reduction”. Ultimately, if a city is planned smartly, it has the potential to be environmentally friendly and not cause the damage and harm we usually think it does, leading to a greener future.
Urban areas: The problem
It is a common belief that the city brings jobs and opportunities for people aspiring to make a name for themselves or those looking for a better place; this belief is one of the many reasons why people are attracted to the city. Now, half of the population, globally, reside in cities. However, with such an abundance of people cramped up in relatively small spaces, problems are bound to occur; threats to the well-being of humans arise due to increasing population density. Competition between people arises due to scarcity as there are more people competing for jobs, food, and housing. Overall, there is greater consumption of resources, and as a result of consumption, waste is generated. There are greater levels of air pollution from concentrated energy use and larger volumes of solid domestic waste, increasing people’s exposure to toxic substances and environmental hazards . Fundamentally, urban areas are faced with poverty and environmental degradation.