Among the evolutions of ecological issues in recent years there are undoubtedly the sustainable cities. In fact, the research of environmental sustainability is now applied in many fields, such as in the care of the seas, in nutrition, in production methods and, finally, in cities and urban centers.
The fundamental role that urban centers have for the world population make these realities a subject to be studied in depth for international institutions and organizations. In fact, cities allow humans to develop and improve their economic and social condition, today also in a green way.
Making them greener is not easy: numerous interventions are needed to transform ancient centers into places that respect the environment. In addition, the problems to be addressed are numerous, such as lack of funds, infrastructure degradation and pollution, environmental as well as light and acoustic pollution.
The importance of investing in eco-sustainable cities it is also demonstrated by the new 2030 Agenda. This UN initiative includes an investment and incentive program dedicated to states around the world, with the aim of finding new ways to make a city more sustainable. Here is more information on the subject.
Sustainable cities and the 2030 Agenda
The 2030 Agenda is an action program signed in 2015, through which the aim is to reduce pollution and the greenhouse effect on a global level. Specifically, in 2015 this system of objectives was signed by 193 countries, members of the United Nations Organization.
The mechanism of the 2030 Agenda is quite simple: it includes objectives that are named Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. This plan also translates into 169 goals to be achieved by 2030. Among these there are several environmental, social and economic objectives, in addition to sustainable cities of the 2030 Agenda come:
- defeat poverty and hunger
- ensure quality education and gender equality
- to ensure clean water and sanitation in developing countries
- investing in clean energy, innovation and infrastructure
- protect life underwater, on land and fight against climate change
- reduce inequalities
Climate change and recent natural manifestations, such as floods and fires, have brought greater attention to these issues. At both European and global level, this emergency translates into plans studied in detail in order to increase sustainable behavior on a social and environmental level. From this aspect the sustainable cities.
The objectives of the 2030 Agenda on sustainable cities
How to make a city sustainable is the first question posed by world leaders to experts. Following studies and in-depth studies, various targets have been listed, specific in the context of ecological urban centers and indispensable for the future. The objectives set by the 2030 Agenda and to be achieved by the Member States by this deadline include:
- guarantee access to housing for populations in poor neighborhoods
- ensure a safe, but also accessible and sustainable transport system, by improving road safety and investing in enhancing public transport, in particular for people with disabilities, the elderly and children
- make urbanization more inclusive, as well as green, by planning a new urban settlement system
- safeguard the natural and cultural heritage
- reduce the number of deaths and economic losses related to natural disasters, in particular by aiming to protect more vulnerable people, such as children and the elderly
- reduce the environmental impact, invest in urban waste management and air quality
- create public, safe and inclusive green spaces for the elderly, disabled and children
- favor the positive link between urban, rural and peri-urban areas
- increase the number of urban centers on the territory that are inclusive, efficient and resistant to disasters of different types, first of all those caused by climate change, provided in particular by the Sendai Framework for the Reduction of Disaster Risk 2015-2030
- support even the less developed realities, with the aim of constructing new sustainable buildings
What are sustainable cities
Provide a definition of sustainable cities it is not easy. In fact, these urban centers have many requirements and characteristics that make it difficult to find a specific definition.
Simplifying, the meaning of sustainable city it can be identified in a new system of organization of the urban center. This modern planning includes transport, territoriality, reduction of consumption and independent production of different types of energy. So this term indicates an independent reality, able to create energy and reduce the impact of man on the environment.
The importance of transforming urban centers into greener reality lies in the numbers: today around 4 billion people live in cities. In addition, according to a study by the World Bank, this number will double by 2050, making it essential to invest in an ecological organization. Furthermore, according to the UN, although cities occupy only 3% of the surface, these centers use up to 80% of available energy and emit over 75% of carbon dioxide.
These numbers are also combined with the figures relating to poverty: for example, around 828 million people today reside in slums and many of these have difficulty in accessing food and clean water. In addition, according to forecasts, around 95% of the global expansion of urban centers will be concentrated in developing countries. For this reason one sustainable city it is not only capable of producing clean energy, but it must also guarantee inclusiveness and support for the poorest areas.
The requirements of sustainable cities
To understand how to make a city sustainable it is necessary to analyze the different requirements foreseen by the UN. These include not only ecological but also social and cultural elements. In fact, the requirements include:
- the creation of green areas and urban gardens, including on roofs and terraces, in order to absorb carbon dioxide and isolate buildings
- the use of the IoT, through which to analyze different aspects such as the quality of water, air and temperature
- digitization of the public administration, in order to reduce pollution and the use of paper
- the opening of meeting places for young people and the community, for example schools that are also open in the afternoon
- the installation of energy-saving systems such as solar thermal or photovoltaics
- control of the management of separate waste collection, as rewards for citizens who carry it out correctly and consistently while penalties for those who are unable
- the solicitation of the smart working formula to reduce the use of cars and vehicles
- the creation of services for citizens, such as online shopping
- the redesign of the territory in a more ecological key, especially for new buildings and renovations with energy requalification
- the conversion to sustainable mobility, also through sharing services and electric taxis
Thanks to these simple requirements relating to sustainable cities it is not only possible to achieve the ecological goal set by the 2030 Agenda. In fact, in this way even greater cooperation between individuals, businesses and law enforcement is favored. In addition, the creation of a more widespread community can be encouraged, which connects the different spaces of the city without giving up a greener aspect.
Finally among the many requirements on how to make a city sustainable there is also help to the most needy and poor areas. In fact, an ecological city should help the prosperity of the less affluent areas, favoring the creation of schools, stimulating equal opportunities and involving the weakest subjects, such as the disabled, the elderly and children.
Sustainable cities around the world
While in the past the sustainable cities they seemed just a chimera, today in the world there are many examples of urban centers that over the years have improved many aspects of their organization. Specifically, according to the Climate Reality Project organization in ranking of sustainable cities there are five realities, such as:
- San Francisco, in the United States, which has invested in technological innovation of means of transport and in the energy efficiency of buildings
- Copenhagen, Denmark, which aims to become carbon free (it would be the first capital in the world)
- Stockholm, Sweden, which has created an innovative, ecological and efficient central heating system
- Vancouver, Canada, which is investing in all-round sustainable policies in many places in the city
- Singapore, which has set many limits to the use of the car thanks also to an innovative transport plan that reduces pollution without giving up the maximum capillarity of services
Ranking of sustainable cities in Italy
In ranking of sustainable cities in Italy the numbers are reduced. The ranking currently includes 107 factors and 15 different dimensions of urban life, according to FPA’s ICity Rate research. At the moment they meet these three characteristics eco-sustainable cities, Which:
- Milan, in Lombardy, which has invested in smart mobility and in the city health record, as well as interventions to redesign the skyline of the urban center
- Bologna, in Emilia Romagna, which has established a public network, through digital identity, which allows you to enjoy many services, especially those of the Public Administration
- Florence, in Tuscany, is in first position for electric mobility and has developed a system for managing traffic in real time thanks to the users and georeferenced data of the urban center