Sustainable development in cities is increasingly becoming popular in the modern world. More than half of the world population I believed to lie in cities, with the projection expected to go up to 60% in 2030. Thus, there is a dire need to ensure that their development adheres to the sustainable development goals because the resources will be overstretched. Besides, despite cities and the metropolitan areas being economic hubs, they also contribute to at least 70% of carbon emissions that need to be addressed (Brelsford et al. 8963).
The overstretching of resources in the cities has led to the development of slums characterized by inadequate and overburdened structures and air pollution. Therefore, making sustainable cities will involve; creating careers and business opportunities for the people, safe and affordable housing, and establishing societies that show resilience. Public transport and the creation of green public spaces are always given utmost priority in cities’ sustainable development. Likewise, proper urban planning and management are required in the sustainable development of cities. As a result, international instruments like the United Nations have been key in guiding urbanization and development to improve urban dwellers’ living environment. Cities have henceforth adopted public policies to enhance their planning strategies and integration of technologies.
Cities have become world economic engines because of their ability to attract huge talent and investment. They generate up to about 80% of the global GDP and help millions of people find their way out of poverty. However, the speed at which urbanization is taking place brings a lot of challenges. Many people in the cities are experiencing widening income gaps, worsening pollution, and old buildings and other infrastructure. As a result, it has been difficult for city dwellers to realize their dreams of having a sustainable and prosperous future. According to Williams (176), these conditions have forced many people into the slums and other informal settlements, mostly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Such moves are precedence due to lack of access to affordable housing and good-paying jobs.
Climate change has been a challenge in the sustainable development of cities around the world. As a result, the cities’ relevant authorities spend large sums of money to curb natural disasters and climate issues. This is not subject to change since global warming seems to increase the cities’ chances of experiencing extreme weather events like floods. Cities are therefore adopting new sustainable models to avert such challenges that result from extreme weather. For instance, China cities have adopted concrete neighborhoods that are entwined with green spaces that can detain and filter water naturally Williams (176). Thus, these cities have effectively averted flood problems that could arise. Such concepts are also adopted in other countries like Singapore who term it “the garden city” because of how green the environment is portrayed by the concept (Han 15).
Rapid urbanization has also seen public places shrink in size despite them playing an integral part in transforming communities. Despite public spaces being recreational facilities, studies indicate that they play a critical role in the poor and community’s well-being in cities that don’t have spacious homes (Women U.N.). Besides, living in a room with insufficient space and sunlight is a good recipe for health complications. Lack of space equally inhibits an individual’s interaction and engagement in productive activities. Therefore, public places offer these provisions to the poor by acting as their living rooms, garden, and corridors for interaction.
However, most public places in cities are often neglected or poorly integrated with planning and urban development. UN-Habitat has been at the front in conducting more research on the importance of these public spaces that play a critical role in the cities’ prosperity. Lack of provision for public spaces interferes with economic activities, increases environmental pollution, and reduces social interaction and security. Lack of spaces in cities has forced some urban planners to look upwards for spaces (Klopp and Petretta 97). In Milan, there are architectural designs in the form of a tree with a vertical forest. Thus, there is a need to consider public spaces as a basic service while integrating cities’ sustainable development.
Residents in urban areas regularly commute to work. Thus making the transport system an important aspect to integrate into the sustainable development of urban areas. However, the cities’ rapid growth has created challenges in the development and planning process of the transport system. A good transport system in sustainable development should be energy efficient, accessible, and attractive. Nonetheless, the value of land has been steadily increasing worldwide, making transport intervention a costly venture for various governments. This makes it crucial for governments to develop appropriate strategies to use in facilitating the funding of transport projects in cities.
Moreover, even for cities with a good transport system, there have been issues on the cost and ownership for maintenance. Consequently impacting the pricing system. As a result, most urban dwellers have a poor transport system. This is due to their unavailability or expensive costs, which are not sustainable. Poor urban dwellers often prefer other cheaper alternatives such as walking to work as oppose to the public transport. Thus, cities need to integrate a transport system that is fair, green, and accessible to everyone. Many developed nations have adopted the use of electric trains that are not only convenient but also environmentally cautious. The Netherlands has taken more eco-friendly measures by encouraging people to use bikes while working. This helps to tackle car dependence, which causes pollution in the environment. The commuters get paid whenever they travel to work using bikes.
The New Urban Agenda
Despite the challenges in most urban cities because of the underutilization of sustainable goals in their planning, there is still hope for these individuals. The fact rapid increase in urbanization has resulted in a global commitment to amending the wrongs in urbanization. As a result, the UN-Habitat adopted the New Urban Agenda. This helps set out new standards for sustainable development of urban areas. The New Urban Agenda offers guidance on the global efforts meant to achieve SDG when climate change has had an impact on people.
This initiative got a good reception from the World Bank. It has been working closely with relevant stakeholders in building sustainable cities and communities. The World Bank has been specifically supporting operations and also give technical assistance that adheres to the SDGs. The world’s biggest financer invests an average of $6 billion every year on urban development and resilience globally. The banks have also shown their commitment to helping several countries to meet the urbanization demands. This has been vital in creating cities and communities that are resilient, inclusive, sustainable, and productive (Caprotti et al. 378).