Wish List for Sustainable Urban Development
By Leah Feor
Do you believe that city planners need to put more emphasis on developing sustainable cities?
With a growing population and migration from rural to urban settings, development continues to happen at a very rapid rate. This can result in new homes and infrastructure being built at the expense of unique ecosystems. Though growth and expansion can occur in harmony with Nature, it requires thoughtful planning from the municipal government to do so.
City Planning for Global Goals
As communities work towards sustainable development and the UN’s Global Goals, it is necessary to acknowledge the interconnections and build from there. In order to take action on climate, reduce poverty, and eliminate hunger, careful attention must be paid to how we the places where we live and play are developed.
When city planners meet with developers and investors, it’s important that they go to the table with something written in stone. Whether it is a local by-law, state mandate, or federal law, it is imperative that the environment has a voice in the negotiations.
My Wish List for Sustainable Urban Development:
- A generous designated percentage of landmass is natural green space– wetlands and forests for example. These areas cannot be developed on for personal use; instead they will be managed by local organizations for public accessibility as parks, recreational spaces, and live classrooms for growing minds. A portion of these spaces can also be designated as agroforestry or permaculture projects – feeding the community while nourishing the Earth.
- Accounting for the ecosystems– that means a financial assessment of the local and global impact of preserving ecosystems vs. paving over them. The value added by natural ecosystems is priceless; clean air, clean water, and general health benefits are just a few features these spaces provide to the community. Despite being priceless, there is a way to quantify these qualities. If records are created to show the economic benefit of trees for example, it will be easy to do a comparative cost benefit analysis against what developers are offering up for permission to build on pristine land.
- Brownfield restoration projects and retrofitting older homes– prior to paving paradise and putting up luxury homes, a full land survey needs to be done and carefully considered. If there are areas in the city or town which homes exist, but are abandoned or run down, is it possible to restore these homes or even remove them to build new? How about brownfields? It takes years, even decades to restore them, but if we don’t start today with an effort as small as planting clover or hemp, these plots of land won’t remediate themselves in any hurry.
- Accessible transportation, bike lanes, and dedicated pedestrian zones– Integral to the development of any sustainable city or town is a carefully planned transit system that helps people get to where they need to go without having over dependency on a vehicle. Also, by incorporating bike lanes and dedicated pedestrian zones, not only will emissions be reduced by keeping cars off the road, but the general health of citizens will improve due to more opportunities for exercise and time spent outdoors.
Of course my ideas and suggestions are nothing new. In fact, some city planners are on the same page. There are however many that are not. This is costly to the global community and global economy. If you live in a place that can benefit from some of these suggestions, be sure to get involved at the local level and let your voice be heard.
This blog has been modified by the author from original post on simplysustainableblog.com
About the Author – Leah Feor
Leah is a strategic advisor, administrator, and content creator for Simply Sustainable™. Balancing a triple bottom line for organizations and individuals is her utmost goal. She’s a big picture thinker with an eye for detail. Her passion for the environment and social impact bring her business background to life. Outdoor adventures, healthy living, and continuous learning are just a few of her favourite things.