In 2007, a huge population milestone was achieved. It was found that over 50% of the global population was living in urban areas compared to rural areas. Never before has this been seen.
As the global population continues to rise (currently at 7.5 billion but projected to reach 10 billion around 2050), cities and urban areas will be home to larger and larger shares of the global population. This growth is just one major challenge that cities will have to deal with.
Alongside that, climate change is another major challenge that today’s society must deal with. Higher global temperatures, an increasing number of weather extremes, and rising sea levels are all linked with man-made climate change and cities will be key in preventing some of the devastating effects that could be felt if we do nothing to reduce our impact on the environment.
Humans need resources to live. We need food, water, energy to heat/cool our homes, fuel to run our cars etc. All of that requires energy and in most cases contributes to carbon emissions. In cities of millions of people, there are huge amounts of food, water, and energy required in a concentrated area, and reducing the environmental impact of providing these resources will be key in limiting climate change, especially as the population grows and a much bigger share of people live in cities compared to rural areas.
The challenges cities face are huge. Cities will need to deal with the impacts of climate change as well as developing socially and economically to sustain growing populations. Despite these major challenges, cities are doing amazing things to become more sustainable. Portland, Bogota, and Zurich have already been identified as cities making positive steps to build sustainable future, and each Wednesday another city will be examined to see what lessons can be taken from it.
Whilst there is still a long way to go, the early signs are positive…