Globally, 3 million people move to urban areas every week. Our cities are struggling to cope with the huge demands being placed on infrastructure, services, housing, transportation and the environment. Almost all future urban population growth will take place in African and Asian countries (International Organisation for Migration), where approximately one third of the population will live in slums.
Although this huge transition towards being an urbanised, global society presents significant challenges, it also represents a powerful opportunity for emerging cities to be designed in a way that is sustainable and inclusive.
Cities contribute a disproportionate amount to climate change. Although they cover less than 2% of the earth’s surface, cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 80% of greenhouse gas emissions (UN Habitat), mainly through energy generation, vehicles, and industry.
Imaginative countermeasures need to be implemented in developing and developed cities, targeting longevity and low energy use. Whilst the reliance on cars must be reduced further, green spaces in unexpected places can also mitigate heavy carbon dioxide emissions while providing enjoyable spaces for people in congested cities.
By 2030, it’s predicted that the global, urban population will demand 35% more food, 40% more water, and 50% more energy (PWC). The pressure on our planet to supply finite resources to rapidly expanding cities is complicated by climate change and is an immediate threat to the way we live and work.
Changes in rainfall and temperature are predicted to significantly reduce agricultural productivity across large parts of Africa by 2030 (Science), estimates suggest that two thirds of the world’s population could experience water scarcity by 2025 (UN DESA), and it is forecast that renewable energy will only account for 23% of energy use in 2040 (EIA). Cities must implement policies, action plans and projects to feed, water, and fuel their growing urban populations in a sustainable way whilst reducing their ecological footprint.