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Hani Zeini: How Will The Battle For Sustainable Development Be Won or Lost In Cities?

Sustainable Development, Hani Zeini, sustainability issues, socio-economic balance, What can cities do to achieve sustainability

By 2050, approximately six billion people will live in urban areas according to various studies. Technology, employment, and economic growth are all intertwined in city life. A city with a low carbon footprint can be extremely environmentally-friendly. Safe and energy-efficient public transports, buildings, and housing can play a vital role in how sustainable a city is. Currently, estimates show that urban areas create more than 80% of a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Thanks to younger generations, cities tend to be the epicenter of inventions, innovation, and partnerships. Still, cities face many sustainability issues. High energy consumption and emission of toxic gases are the two considerable concerns here.

These urban areas are also susceptible to disasters, social unrest, and conflicts, and not everyone who lives in cities is well off.

For success, these places must have sturdy organizational structures and operating mechanisms in the 21st century. After all, the global youth flock to cities for skill development, jobs, innovation, and a bright future. Since these urban areas and the people who are drawn to them are the centers of diversity, talent, migration, knowledge, ideas, and culture, they need to work and collaborate to find new opportunities and solutions. These areas can motivate people to strive for respect, resilience, tolerance, and coexistence. All of these characteristics are integral parts of global sustainability goals. 

What can cities do to achieve sustainability?

Handling inequality

There are two stark realities of the cities. On one hand, cities are home to socio-economic growth powerhouses, like large globalized companies, and on the other, cities are home to many at-risk communities and are susceptible to climate crises and other disasters. So, to be safe, inclusive, and sustainable, cities have to focus on reducing and controlling most of the risks. Cities must have established response and recovery models. Natural disasters and change cause economic loss. Those with fewer resources will see the worst of its effects.

Introducing governance

We must emphasize how we’ll manage risk when it comes to being resilient and tolerant. Leaders in social-economic development have to take an integrated approach toward planning and execution with a clear assessment of the risk factors. They have to pay attention to systems, services, and governance.

Encompassing peri-urban areas and hinterlands

Cities need to identify what is absolutely necessary and what is redundant when it comes to systems and services. There must be a proper evaluation process of urban requirements, priorities, and concerns so that things continue to function and can absorb risk while maintaining resilience. And that should apply to remote places too.

Ensuring socio-economic balance

Since urban development also increases risk, it is essential to take the socio-economic factors and hazards into account in the context of ecosystem, livelihood, and safety. Otherwise, due to rising inequality, things like poverty and discrimination can get worse.

However, many countries still don’t pay adequate attention to urbanization needs the way they should. Programs and policies, most of the time, fail to regard the connection between cities, peri-urban areas, and rural settlements. Additionally, increasing urban inequality is another challenge. Global poverty is on the rise, and a lot of towns are unable to cover the basic needs of their people due to the uneven allocation of resources.

Hence, there needs to be immediate, cohesive, and comprehensive efforts all across the globe, with leaders showing the way to create an efficient and successful model for sustainability.

For more, you can find out what entrepreneurs and intellectuals like Hani Zeini have to say.


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