Urbanization Challenges and Sustainability Demands

By Steve Wells, Rohit Talwar, and Alexandra Whittington

Massive Urbanization by 2050

Of the projected global population of 9.8bn by 2050, the UN predicts that 68% will live in cities – an increase of 2.5bn over 2018 where the proportion was 55%. Of this, almost 90% of the increase is expected to take place in Asia and Africa. Hence, sustainable development will be key to future success of the entire planet.


Super Tall, Mega Tall, and Giant Buildings

The science and engineering of building structures has been advancing rapidly. Hence it is now commonplace to see Super Tall buildings of over 300 meters in height and Mega Tall structure of over 600 meters. Currently the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest at 828 meters with the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia targeted at 1,008 meters on completion. As urbanization gathers pace, cities will have to adapt and include more such structures.


Car-Free Cities

Momentum is gathering around the world for cities to develop plans to manage air pollution through the banning of petrol and diesel cars. For example, London plans to introduce a zero-emission zone in 2025. This is expected to ban petrol and diesel cars from the very center of the city (hybrid cars will be excluded from the ban), and gradually expand until it covers all of the capital by 2050.


Sun-Powered Cities

Reducing costs and exponential growth in demand for solar technology are showing the perceived value of this technology even in the UK market. An indication of the potential of this renewable energy source was achieved briefly in the summer of 2018, when solar power eclipsed gas power stations as the UK's top source of electricity. Solar power could lead to entire cities which are designed to generate their own electricity.


Eco Cities

Ever-increasing populations raise issues of congestion, distribution of resources, and increased pressure on waste management, infrastructure, healthcare, and education. Sustainable cities have an essential role in responding to increasing urbanization in a manner that improves residents’ lives by focusing on environmental initiatives including limiting emissions, using renewable energy sources, and bringing greater awareness to environmental issues.


The Urban Future

Each of these solutions share a common thread: they integrate foresight, environmental best practices, and urban planning to enhance the well-being of citizens. Advances in each of these areas are essential to creating a very human future.


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Image Credit: Gerd Altmann via https://pixabay.com/images/id-3520178