Sustainable cities are those that align their standards of living, production and consumption based on a combination of economic and socio-environmental aspects . Instead of promoting disorderly growth and consumption, they adopt public policies and actions that positively impact sustainability . In this article we will provide you examples about sustainable cities.
This can happen with actions that involve mobility, energy matrix, education and waste disposal, among other areas.
Remembering that sustainability is a purpose for all humanity , since habits such as consumerism are leading to depletion of natural resources, in addition to destroying species of flora and fauna and causing a worrying climate crisis .
Given this situation, sustainability has become the target of the countries that make up the United Nations (UN), which should be achieved based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) .
Divided into 17 topics, the SDGs are based on 5Ps:
- People : expresses the intention to end poverty and hunger in the world
- Planeta : commitment to environmental preservation, through sustainable consumption and production and sustainable management of natural resources
- Prosperity : focuses on ensuring the personal fulfillment of all, contributing to economic, technological and social progress in harmony with ecosystems
- Peace : promoting peaceful, inclusive and just societies
- Partnership : The SDGs must be pursued through partnership between nations, governments, civil society organizations , businesses and citizens.
These goals require actions at the global, regional and local levels to achieve them, and local demand needs to include sustainable development strategies for cities.
After all, since 2009, urban centers have been home to most of the world’s population, lacking initiatives that favor life in harmony with ecosystems , without neglecting progress and social inclusion.
By disseminating the ideals of the SDGs at the local level, mobilizations such as the Sustainable Cities Program help to reverse the harmful effects of the exploitation of nature, while creating a more conscious and collaborative society.
It is difficult to imagine what our life would be like without large urban centers. All over the world, cities mark the way people organize and live. While the development of these poles contributes to economic development and to the improvement of the population‘s living conditions, it is also true that there are costs associated with the expansion of urbanism that should not be ignored.
According to Jornal de Negócios , the United Nations estimates that cities are responsible for 80% of global energy consumption and for more than 70% of CO 2 emissions . All this results in a worrying amount of waste and pollution that puts the well-being of populations at risk. Given that until 2050 cities are expected to continue to grow and that about 70% of the entire population resides in cities, it is urgent to understand how we can implement more sustainable practices.
What is a sustainable city?
The cities considered more sustainable are those that adopt a set of efficient practices and measures towards an improvement in the quality of life of their populations, economic development and, of course, the preservation of the environment.
While it is impossible to identify a city that is 100% sustainable, the truth is that there are countless examples of locations that have successfully implemented concrete efforts associated with improving air quality, energy transition, protection of natural resources and development. of a capable public transport network.
As announced by the Sustainable Cities Index , there are 3 main pillars that are used to measure the sustainability level of cities:
Everything that reflects and concerns the well-being of populations. This pillar seeks to measure factors related to their quality of life, level of opportunities and possibility of social mobility. Health, work and education are some of the most fundamental axes.
The way natural resources are managed. This pillar considers all the factors that contribute to the “green seal” certification: water quality, levels of contamination, initiatives to promote recycling, the development of green spaces, etc.
The economic environment and the health of the local economy. In order to measure the level of sustainability of a city, it is essential to understand the dynamism of its economy, studying some metrics such as employability and purchasing power.
What are the characteristics of sustainable cities?
- Implement measures to reduce CO2 emissions;
- They reveal a strong investment in education policies;
- They assume a strong, dynamic and accessible local commerce;
- They support public programs aimed at better access to health care;
- They create green spaces (such as gardens and parks);
- They bet on the quality of urban mobility and public transport services;
- They favor clean and renewable energy sources;
5 real examples of sustainability in cities
All over the world there are good examples of sustainability that demonstrate how it is possible to implement urbanism that is better able to respond to environmental, social and economic challenges.
In Germany there are several examples of cities that meet some of the most decisive requirements for this topic. Freiburg represents, in particular, a case of how it is possible to rethink the use of energy resources in a more efficient way.
Shortly after the end of the Second World War, the environmental conscience of the rulers of this town in southern Germany resulted in the creation of the Schlierberg district. Here, all houses and buildings were built using eco-friendly materials, with photovoltaic panels being implemented on all lots. The result? This revolutionary neighborhood produces four times more energy than it consumes.
The Danish way of life is the subject of numerous praise, namely for the way in which this people adopted a more sustainable and healthy mobility style. In Copenhagen, regular use of bicycles is the norm, with around 40% of the population commuting daily by this means of transport.
Moreover, the city pioneered the launch of a public bicycle loan system that made this reality more accessible. This and other measures have allowed the city to reduce its CO2 emissions by 25% since 1990.
Drastically reducing water waste was the main objective of the province of Zaragoza in the early 1990s. After a prolonged dry season, government officials understood the need to rethink the use of the city’s water resources.
To this end, a program was defined and carried out, with great success, aimed at raising the population’s awareness of the issue and implementing a series of measures that punished those who irresponsibly used this natural resource, rewarding, alternatively, homes that had lower water consumption.
Furthermore, technologies capable of improving the efficiency of water use were implemented in parks and public buildings, promoting the reuse of this natural resource.
In short, over more than a decade, the city of Zaragoza has managed to reduce its global water consumption by around 30% .
As mentioned before, there are no 100% sustainable cities, but Thisted is an example of a city that has achieved energy self-sufficiency .
This means that 100% of the energy used in this location comes from a renewable source – 80% wind and 20% biogas. In this case, the success of this energy transition is not so much associated with government policies, but rather with the way in which the local community and the private sector came together to achieve this feat, investing for several years in more sustainable technologies.
Currently, of the 252 wind turbines, only one is not private. The energy surplus produced by these facilities is later sold to the central energy network that “feeds” the entire country.
Considered one of the cities that offers the best quality of life to its inhabitants, Vienna is an example of the importance of defining a plan with a long-term strategic vision, which seeks to solve the main challenges of modern urbanism.
In 2014 the city began implementing the Smart City Vienna program. Through a series of measures and actions, this plan aimed to improve the city‘s infrastructure, energy networks and mobility. The final goal is to reduce CO 2 emissions by more than 40% and increase the use of renewable energies.
The harmony between the operation of different means of transport, free internet access in public spaces, the dynamism of local commerce and energy consumption reduction systems are some of the factors that contribute to the quality of life in this city.
What are the most sustainable cities in the world?
Sustainable cities and communities are those that go beyond simple selective garbage collection. A sustainable city is one that values improvements in urban mobility, education, health, among other areas. So, whether to be inspired by actions, to do tourism or to definitely move, it’s always good to be aware of which sustainable city is in the ranking of the places most concerned with social and environmental issues.
Discover the 10 most sustainable cities in the world:
- zurich, switzerland
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Munich, Germany
- Singapore, State City of the Republic of Singapore
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Seoul, South Korea
- Vienna, Austria
- London, England
- Frankfurt, Germany
- hamburg, germany