Urbanization and Sustainable Urbanism


Urban is characterized as cities or urban areas formulated on aspects such as conglomeration or population size, expansion of institutions, and augmented environment. These are expedited by the flourishing demand of the community. Urban areas emanated from the locomotion of human beings or resettlement within cities, which led to urbanization where the gradual increase in the proportion of the population in urban areas takes place. Nevertheless, the inhabitants grow and the necessity to sustain oneself continues to become immense.

According to the World Urbanization Prospects report (2018), 68% of the world population will reside in urban areas by 2050. With 90% of this growth happening in Asia and Africa, India will add 416 million urban dwellers to the 2.5 billion projected world’s urban population.

With the advancement of technology, the developing world underwent extraordinary urban growth in last few decades, particularly in Asia and Africa, where three times increase in the built-up urban area (up to 0.6 million square km of cities with million plus populations) from year 2000 to 2030 was projected. Developing nations contemplate urbanization as an opportunity for growth. Urbanization is summed up as the outcome of upgradation of human civilizations with proven benefits of economic growth and development. In contemplation of drawing Human Capital for basic economic subsistence, cities are a desideratum for developing countries.

sustainable urbanism

Given the scale, Cities are the transformative force and synergy to achieve all SDGs, as it unifies innovation, economy, investment, energy, governance, environment, and technology. Hence, achieving the targets under SDG 11 would have the highest impact on the global community.

What is Sustainable Urbanism?

Whenever the term ‘sustainable’ entwined with ‘urbanism’ comes across, the first thought rings in the mind is sustainable development in cities that is sustaining the urban cities by encroaching maximum development within built of green compact cities with least detriment in the existing resources.

Sustainable urbanism strengthens the bond between humans with nature enhancing directly or indirectly social perspectives and in the long term, proves to be beneficial in the economic sector too like ‘Green Infrastructure’, a facet framework of sustainable urbanism for ecology reaping economic and social benefits altogether.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

According to the UN High-Level Political Forum (2018) on Accelerating SDG 11 Achievement, the following were identified as the key issues to be resolved namely, obtaining spatial data, collecting qualitative and quantitative socio-economic data, computation from the local level and aggregating to national level, appropriate monitoring frameworks, sufficient technical and institutional capacities. Including these core challenges, housing is taken as one of the main factors that helps to achieve sustainable urban development. During this COVID pandemic era, work from home became mandatory during the lockdown period.

Also Read: Sustainable Development Goals: Assam -2030 in light of SDGs

Post Pandemic impact on urban areas

IT/ITES sector in India is one of the main contributors to the economy. However, the post pandemic period will have a huge impact on urban employment, migration pattern and urbanization.  TCS with over 4.5 lac employees globally, had proposed a model by which 75% of its total workforce will be working from home by the end of 2025 and has planned to decentralize its units to tier 2 & 3 cities. This requires less office space than that of todays. A company, with over 4.5 lac employees, has come up with this model and will have a great impact on urbanism. If this model is followed by other companies, the impact would be huge. This will control the in-migration to the mega cities and limits the urban sprawls. Whereas, employment opportunities will be created in lower tier cities. This will help to solve the existing housing demands to a certain without coming up with new developments or with limited development in cities.

Sustainability is the key and the urban areas are striving for it because where the cities are sustainable, they are more competitive, attractive, and able to uplift their civilians out of impoverishment. It is an integration of the environment, economy, society, and institutional aspects of urban areas.

Potentials of Sustainable Urbanism

One of the elements of Sustainable urbanism is the rise of social ethics towards social improvement. The neighbourhoods that are green and sustainable, stimulates secured communities, are accessible to every human being irrespective of their colour, caste, class, etc. The process-oriented approach of sustainable urbanism will play an analytical role in framing the equity issues in social ethics.

To cope with new uncertain developments, abundance of space is created for regeneration functions and other environmental functions, and hence the probability is greater that this will satisfy the needs of unexpected change. But the competition for space is bigger, hence density comes into vision in increasing the complexity of social structure. Compactness, density, mixed land use, diversity and green space are the core strategies of the city. Sustainable urbanism approach creates a space such that urban form will grow stronger and become more resilient when uncertainty impacts on.

Sustainable Urbanism through Green Infrastructure

Integrating natural elements like grass lands, open spaces, rivers and forests for healthy functioning and sustaining environment as well as inhabitants, is the basic foundation of Green infrastructure.  For making any city a city, the predominant factor is the infrastructure, which should not only be limited to the road, housing or transport but aspects like power, air and water management playing a vital role is also covered in Green infrastructure. Inbuilt of green spaces and sites in meticulous, well planned way scaling from neighbourhood to sub- regional level while keeping the sense of place with enhancement in exposure to nature not only complements the city but promises it the uniqueness and healthy surroundings assisting in climatic balance which proves to be very beneficial and a must needed in a country like India, where overwhelming pollution and climatic imbalance is hampering due to tremendous increase of urban migration. But only having the potential doesn’t solve the problem without taking challenges too and the biggest obstacle is functioning of multiple urban development bodies and approval authorities could trigger problems. Limited finances of government and user affordability could not be ruled out too.

Also Read: What Is Green Infrastructure?

But by adopting the use of Green infrastructure in certain areas and then exploring its advantages could convince authorities to step out from conventional norms as well with efficient planning in land use kindling from neighbourhood scale, the challenges could be overcome. With expenditure from government and private investors too could assist in laying down this new framework which is a worthwhile attempt towards sustainable growth of a city.