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“We are living on this planet as if we have another one to go to”

UN Habitat

Terri Swearingen rightly quoted “we are living on this planet as if we have another one to go to”. The blessing and curse of globalisation has overwhelmingly changed our production and consumption patterns and has created irreversible damages to OUR home- mother earth. One can no longer deny the facts of climate change, it is indeed “An inconvenient Truth.”

Urban cities are attractive for various reasons for instance they provide opportunities for professional or educational growth. This can make cities victims of their own success as individuals and families move to urban areas in pursuit of a more prosperous future. However, this also means that cities become more polluted and crowded. According to a statement made by the Under-Secretary-Geneal of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, Mrs. Tibaijuka, cities consume 75% of global energy consumption and 80% of greenhouse gas emissions.[1]

So how can urban areas be more holistic and inclusive? The UN-Habitat is a programme led by the United Nations is a good place to start looking if we want to build more socially and environmentally sustainable cities.  The strategy of this programme focuses on seven different areas urban legislation; land and governance; urban planning and design; urban economy; urban basic services; housing and slum upgrading; risk reduction and rehabilitation; and urban research and capacity development. This framework is by far the most holistic and inclusive approach taken towards urban development.

However, is this enough? Urban development cannot happen by relying on international, regional and national institutions and agencies alone. How we plan and maintain our cities now ultimately determines how we contribute to climate change- so are we going to be part of the solution or part of the problem?

[1] http://mirror.unhabitat.org/content.asp?cid=5236&catid=317&typeid=8

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