Ways to Transform Urban Areas to More Sustainable and Vibrant Future
Metropolitan cities only account for up to 2% of the surface of the earth. According to the United Nations, 55% of the world’s population resides in urban areas, and it would increase up to 68% by the year 2050. People prefer to live in urban areas, as this is where the majority of economic activities occur. Therefore, people get better job opportunities and financial prosperity, which ultimately improves the quality of their lives. As the population grows, these areas and cities will require more resources to cater to everyone. However, bearing the heavy burden of a massive population, urban cities have their own set of challenges. We need to learn how to transform urban areas so that they are sustainable and will be able to bear the increasing demand of a growing population.
Problems resulting from Urbanization:
Urban cities demand more resources than their actual capacity to cater to the needs of the population. Supplies like food, water, and energy are already scarce, and overconsumption leads to a shortfall in agricultural land, seawater, and green areas in the city. This shortfall further escalates to infertility of the soil, inflation of food prices, and ultimately affects the poor. One social consequence of such inadequacies is inequality. Due to the inequality and the scarcity of resources, the richest part of society can gain access to and acquire more. In contrast, the poor will continue to struggle and become poorer.
On the other hand, the phenomenon of continuous Urbanization also triggers enormous threats to the environment. We put too much strain on the environment and mainly contribute towards its deterioration by polluting it in numerous ways. Therefore, we observe unexpected flooding, heatwaves, pandemics, and unpredictable weather conditions in urban centers.
Authorities, governments, nations, and global thinkers are trying to cope with all these challenges because if things stay the same, the future picture of the world will be very dark. Nevertheless, the general public is also responsible for eradicating these issues through their acts and way of living.
Path to a Sustainable Future:
Unfortunately, concepts of urban planning and smart cities are alien to the majority of the population, and our conventional academic system does not educate us in this regard. Therefore, it is more important for the citizens of urban cities to educate themselves and spread awareness simultaneously. This can be done through following the instructions of environmental bodies, changing our way of living, and educating ourselves through smart city short courses online, etc.
Since we have understood the vitality and repercussions of urban city challenges, let’s focus on making amends and fixing the issue. But, before we get into strategies, it is essential to understand that any plan or concept cannot work until we, as humans, understand our responsibility towards it. We genuinely feel the need for it and recognize that it’s us – humans – that can only transform the good out of this bad. The following are a few ways of achieving this.
1. Replace and Reprogram instead of Build New:
As we discussed above, the urban population is on the rise. Consequently, every requirement of such communities needs to be fulfilled in the form of more land to live, jobs to earn money, and similar amenities. While we can meet these needs with our capacity to build new, many cities like Glasgow, New York, and Vancouver have started replacing their existing facilities. They are transforming their old theaters into new clubs, old single-story apartments into multi-story buildings. In this way, we reduce the acquisition of new lands that can be utilized for agriculture or other natural habitats.
2. High on Plantation:
One of the biggest concerns due to excessive Urbanization is a reduction in forest lands and overall greenery in our lives. Climate experts suggest that we must add trees and plants in our localities. Trees can help reduce temperature, refine oxygen levels in the air, and improve climate overall. Therefore, it is high time that plantation becomes our top priorities just as decorating and renovating our houses.
3. Less Carbon Footprint in Transport Systems:
In our daily hustle and bustle, we tend to and need to commute extensively, which results in carbon emissions, noise pollution, and space coverage through our cars. Some countries and their citizens have taken it seriously by using bicycles in shorter commutes. However, in workday commutes, that can be daunting. In this regard, motor vehicle innovators have developed vehicles operating on hybrid modes of oil fuel and battery power. Usage of such cars on a larger scale can be an effective strategy to make our cities sustainable.
Similarly, more extensive usage of ride-hailing apps and planning commutes according to real-time online traffic data can save massive fuel and time. Moreover, fewer car owners mean fewer parking spaces required.
4. Managing and Decreasing Food Wastage:
The consumption of food in urban areas amounts to 70% of the food supply globally. However, the majority of it is either wasted or thrown away. The reasons for such wastage vary from city to city; some of them are improper storage facilities, inadequate food planning, and cultural practices of not saving the food. Similarly, the poor utilization of wasted food is also an opportunity lost.
Wasted food decomposes and produces methane, which is a dangerous gas for our planet. But if it is recycled properly, it can be utilized to get some money and energy.
Therefore, proper food planning and food consumption, along with extensive recycling facilities in the form of food banks, can provide better aid to add sustainability to our planet.
5. Taking Advantage of Daylight to the Maximum:
Electricity is one of the most vital necessities for humankind. We might be able to operate without water or food to some extent but cannot function without electricity. The production of this electricity has also put massive strain.
One innovative approach that a lot of advanced cities are adopting that is using daylight as their prime source while operating. Meaning, they are designing their building with such architectural designs that allow maximum sunlight in their offices and homes, which results in lesser lighting and energy bills. Similarly, they are installing solar panels to generate and store electricity for later usage in the day. These adaptations diminish electricity demands and money spent. And lastly, consuming natural light has numerous health benefits, and it takes you back near to nature.
6. Utilizing Footsteps into Energy:
Another innovative phenomenon of technology is converting footsteps into electrical energy. Every day millions and millions of people take a walk from one point to another. Modern technologists and scientists have created a way to utilize that walking effort into energy. By using custom flooring systems on roads, as people walk on them, their weight pressures electromagnetic induction generators to displace and generate power. Approximately, one such step can power a light bulb up to 20 seconds.
Similar initiatives can utilize many routine and tedious tasks into meaningful efforts to make our urban areas sustainable.
Nature works in its sustainable ways. It’s the human whose practices are disturbing nature’s pattern and effectiveness, and ultimately it is affecting humans in the same way. We have climatic deterioration in the form of natural disasters, animal races going extinct, and polluted air – all because of our ill practices. Therefore, if humankind wants to live peacefully, it is not possible without respecting nature’s ways.
Featured Photo by Nancy Bourque from Pexels