City Leaders Need The Courage To Build Sustainable Urban Centres

By Tobi Nussbaum for the Huffington Post

A billion more people will be living in cities the next time a gavel opens the bi-decennial UN conference on housing and sustainable urban development, known as UN-Habitat (hint -- that will be in 20 years). Following this week's proceedings in Quito, Ecuador, cities will face two significant challenges between now and the next meeting in 2036.    

The first is coping with the inexorable trend towards urbanization. By 2036, over 60 per cent of the world's population will reside in cities. The burgeoning number of urban dwellers worldwide will put pressure on city governments in areas ranging from housing to services, infrastructure to transportation.

The second challenge is the need to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) while adapting to rising temperatures. Cities are responsible for 70 per cent of the world's GHGs, so will be on the frontlines to mitigate emissions. At the same time, located close to major water bodies as most are, cities are vulnerable to flooding and rising sea levels, requiring climate adaptation investments.

As a former diplomat, I have had the opportunity to experience cities around the world with drastically varying conditions -- large and small, rich and poor, coastal and landlocked, peaceful and violent. Yet, despite these differences, I have seen cities across this spectrum successfully preparing for continued population growth while increasing climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. Read more >

Source: Huffington Post, Oct. 21, 2016, Tobi Nussbaum