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SUSTAINABLE CITIES

FROM CITIES TO SUSTAINABLE CITIES: WHAT THE FUTURE OF URBANIZATION SHOULD BE

It has been estimated that by the year 2050, almost 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban cities. The question however arises that how the world would survive in such a rapid rate of urbanization. We are already struggling with the fact that more than 3 billion people are living in cities. Add the fact that almost 80% of material and energy sources are consumed by cities and carbon emissions amount to 75% overall.

These figures are immensely worrying. The high density of people and infrastructure makes them susceptible to global issues like climate change, rising sea levels, higher temperatures and other environmental problems. In the developing world, the development rate of cities is greater than they can actually hold on to in order to sustain themselves. Cities offer a better life at the cost of more competition and more investment. The urbanized environment of the cities contributes a great deal in offer them a suitable opportunity to live, work, play and for an overall growth which not only helps in their personal lives but also plays a part in promoting the general standard of living respective to their cultures. Once this has been successfully achieved, the common aims and goals of a society can be achieved in a healthy and sustainable manner factored by economic development, prosperity, improvement in infrastructure and a general cohesion and smooth operations of a society. However, it must be important to note that where on one hand society is being improved, there is very high possibility of the environment being damaged. Economic growth and environmental sustainability both needs to be put in consideration, the preference of one should not lead to loss of the other.

It is interesting to note that environmental factors are more vital for survival than the economic ones. Communities where the general standard of living is high have made use of the benefits of smart technology to counter the adverse effects of urbanization therefore balancing it off. Infrastructure is improved and services are provided to citizens with increased efficiency and responsiveness. The underlying principle for this was the general benefit of everyone and environmental sustainability is vital to this. Businesses have sprung up whose sole purpose is to discover new methods and implementing techniques all driven towards protection of environment. People are becoming more and more aware of the planet’s depleting resources and are turning towards better alternatives. Buildings, for instance, are being designed which provide the minimal wastage of energy, water, and other utilities and help to conserve them.

Yet, it is quite common that all these strategies are not able to be fully implemented. There have been multiple cases where these solutions are introduced too late for a full scale operation. Thee are other barriers too which prevent the awareness of counterbalancing the widespread wastage of urban cities. Hence the World Business Council created the UII (Urban Infrastructure Initiative). UII is a new model which is based around collaborative efforts between urban cities and businesses. The idea is simplicity itself. 10 cities around the world will be chosen where experts from 14 of the best companies and municipal governments will gather and work together in identifying new techniques and ways to meet the goal of a sustainable future of a city. This whole plan yielded various practical solutions that can transform sustainability from a vision to a reality. This will also create new markets for businesses for products and services which will pave the way for a healthy and sustainable future of everyone.

Many countries have implemented laws regarding sustainable development. The UAE Federal Law no. 24 of 1999 is made specifically for sustainable development. Under this law, all those who are responsible for the development of the country directly or indirectly whether its planning, economic or constructional aspect, are bound by a duty to be mindful of the environment and the pollution and to exercise caution whenever using natural resources for their projects.

the Federal Environmental Agency (FEA) has the responsibility to collaborate with the authorities and the people to ensure that development of projects must in no way damage the environment. Sustainable development should be kept in mind at all times and a balance must be achieved between the usage of the technological advancements and the economic cost such that the pollution level remain in check.

Other aspects of this law includes prohibitions to hunt, kill or capture animals, birds or wildlife with license. Violations of this law may result in a fine of more than 20,000 Dirhams and a 6 month imprisonment. Cases of repetition of violation will result in double the previously imposed punishment. UAE has been playing an active role in sustainable development and it has set a good example for the rest of the world. The 20th session of Commission on Sustainable Development was held in 2013 in Dubai. Many environmental issues were brought to the table like food security, climate change, increase in droughts, natural disasters and others.

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