Cities of the future: the ultimate design challenge

(UN Environment, 21 Nov 2018) With two-thirds of people expected to live in cities by 2050 and with urban areas accounting for 70 per cent of the emissions that are propelling the planet into a climate unknown, the challenge is both clear and urgent: cities must be reimagined.

“We are at a tipping point,” says Martina Otto, head of the Cities Unit at UN Environment. “We have seen sub-national and local governments stepping up and taking forceful commitments, for example, at the recent Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. While it is increasingly recognized that urban planning is critical, in many places planning capacity is lacking.”

For Otto, what is needed is a “planning revolution” that yields strategically structured, compact cities with mixed-use neighbourhoods and buildings, and with an emphasis on integrated urban systems. She would also like to see green roofs and walls and biodiversity corridors; decentralized energy systems, complementing grids and powered by renewables; and a better use of spare capacity through a sharing economy.

In a report this year, the International Resource Panel said cities must be low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially just. The expert group, which was set up by UN Environment, said urban demand for resources could rise by 125 per cent by 2050 with at least 200 new cities expected to be built in Asia over the next 30 years.

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UN Environment, 21 Nov 2018: Cities of the future: the ultimate design challenge