My vision of an Ideal future Sustainable city

The environment is what sustains us and we need to plan our cities in a way that celebrates that.

My ideal future city would constitute elements from various models, as they have progressed over the centuries. In my opinion, the most important elements of an ideal city are a well-developed natural and social environment, along with a well-rounded transportation system.

To me, an eco-city model is the most important element, especially in the present time where the environment is treated as secondary. The environment is what sustains us and we need to plan our cities in a way that celebrates that. The objective of the eco-city model would be to eradicate the use of carbon, to shift to renewable energy of all forms, and for the environment to integrate with the urban surroundings. An eco-city is an ‘ecologically healthy city’ (Bhatt, n.d.). This model would promote better health of the citizens and hence improved efficiency.

Along with these features, I would also like my city to have an easy, walkable environment. However, in order for that to be effective, the city needs to be limited and smaller in size. This size limitation would discourage the use of transportation and promote the walkability in the environments. This would not only result in healthier citizens but also an environment that has lesser overall pollution. In New Delhi, the buses add up to a total of 20% of vehicular CO2 emissions despite 42% of the population using them, whereas, private vehicles add 60% of the emission while only 25% of the population uses private vehicles (Prabhakar, 2016).

The element of having an effective transportation system is an essential feature and is often also overlooked. In order for a sustainable and environmentally friendly city model to come to life, a well-coordinated transportation system, which is adequate at each step of the way, is required. Singapore’s public transport systems ranks the highest in the world, with the highest passenger satisfaction rate in the world. It also ranks first in terms of affordability, which is one of the main drivers of its popularity. They also offer several electronic services which make it convenient for the citizens to travel seamlessly. The government of Singapore also ‘plans to expand and increase the reliability of the Mass Rapid Transit system’ to support future city growth (Hansen, 2020). An efficient transportation system can also help to promote the growth of the cities. These transportation facilities can act as incentives. Adequate transportation accessibility attracts people to areas where the growth might have been stagnant. This is effective in cases where development is encouraged in areas that have efficient transportation systems.  

Additionally, positive civic behavior is what makes or breaks the system. The systems in place, according to which the city is planned, and how those are perceived, decide if the city model would work. This involvement of the people in that environment can be progressive towards the maintenance of the city model.  ‘The Garden city of India’, Chandigarh, is an accurate example for executing such models where the residences association has taken charge of the 1,800 parks in the city. These parks are said to be in excellent condition and prove that citizen participation leads to a sense of ownership and ‘thus leading to strong positive associations towards public goods and services’ (Samuel and Panchal, 2019).

Another feature that I would like my city to support is being technologically oriented. The breakthrough in the last few years through which the world has progressed has severely improved our lives. The upcoming smart city models demonstrate this by making the city more efficient and thorough. These models lean towards a well-rounded city model that includes an adequate water supply, efficient solid waste management, with IT connectivity and digitalisation, along with e-governance and citizen participation, a sustainable environment, and the safety and security of the citizens. The smart city model has introduced several key features over the years like efficient allocation of energy, improvement in the garbage disposal systems, decrease in the traffic, and even working towards the recuperation of the air quality (“What Is a Smart City?”, n.d.). Along with this, the introduction of smart cars which can be electrically charged to be used is a step in the right direction in the development of future cities. The electric vehicle charging docks can be installed around the city for people to conveniently charge their vehicles and decrease the total amount of emissions in the air. 

These small steps can be taken collectively by the authorities and the citizens to make our cities environmentally sustainable and flourishing models to live in.

I feel that the biggest influence on the vision I have of my ideal city is my upbringing in India. Being bought up in India, I’ve seen the lack of necessities in communities and the need to further develop them. Henceforth the planner in me tries to offset it with a more sustainable and environmentally friendly model as my ideal. Further, living in Mumbai and studying environments like the Dharavi slum, I’ve also learnt the importance of a balanced model that promotes equality and upliftment of the underprivileged. The affordability of housing in a city model is an extremely important feature that is often neglected as well. The social aspects of the city are important features which are to be looked at in the planning process. The objective of planning a city, is the development of a well-rounded environment where people from all walks can be situated. 

These basic, yet essential features are the foundation of a well functional and thriving environment. While some developed areas have different needs, the developing environment that I am influenced by offers this vision. There can be no standardized model that can be implemented everywhere, however, the basic foundation of the ideal future city can take us a long way.

Penned by- Divankshi Gandhi

(Intern- ParyavaranMitra)

Author: Paryavaran Mitra

Paryavaran Mitra is an Ahmedabad-based, registered Non-Governmental Organization working on socio-environmental issues since 1997. We have been especially active in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process giving a special focus to ensure that Environment Public Hearings in the State of Gujarat are a transparent and democratic channel to voice public grievances against industrial pollution and disasters.

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