Health plays an important role in sustainability. A healthy population can work towards a good future. A green city should have a well developed healthcare system which will help in improving the health of millions of people, increasing life expectancy, reducing maternal and child mortality and fighting against leading communicable diseases and help us fight pandemics like the recent Coronavirus. This healthcare system should also focus on mental health as health systems across the world have not yet responded adequately to the current burden of mental disorders, and the gap between the need for treatment and its provision is wide. Many technologically advanced places, for example Japan, face huge mental health issues. On the face of it, it seems to have no connection with a green city but in fact a person who is mentally well would help in execution of governmental policies and help in preserving ecological balance. This is something that we definitely need in a city of the FUTURE…
The policies of a green city should be ones that promote improvement of the environment. Things like carbon taxes,expansion of green sources of income , and increasing public awareness, funding of research of upcoming green technologies are a few examples of pro-environment policies. But we need to stay cautious as many things that look environmentally beneficial; do have harmful effects that we don't see at first, for example Dams. They provide renewable energy but it is very difficult to make a dam as it can lead to deforestation and loss of biodiversity, deposition of river carried silt and many other problems. While talking of policies, it is also important that we keep in mind that forming legislations are useless if they are not executed.
3.Pollution free environment:
The environment of a green city should be pollution free. The air people breathe should be clean, Rivers should not look like drains, and stars should be visible in the sky. Technology plays a major role here. electric cars, photovoltaic converters, environmental monitoring which is done through satellites etc. Biodiversity needs to be protected too(refer Biodiversity protection). A green city should be one that does not lead to a net gain of environmental pollutants like Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide,methane,ozone etc. Meaning that their unavoidable( but reducible ) release has to be balanced out by their removal via trees, grass etc. Reduce reuse and recycle are an essential part of a green and sustainable city which also helps in reducing pollution and saving resources.
4.Clean food and water:
A green city should have universal access to safe and affordable drinking water. A green city should invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities and encourage hygiene at every level. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers is essential if we are to mitigate water scarcity. Organic farming in a scientific method would help getting food which is of good quality. This would help enhance the quality of life, help and happiness of the people and save land from degradation. A green city should make efforts in 3 dimensions of food security- Affordability, Accessibility and Availability.
We all know that resources are limited. The way they are used today, they are bound to run out. A green city should have a circular economy which can be reached via measures like resource efficient industries, recycling of all recyclable waste, proper biodegradation of all biodegradable matter, 100% sewage treatment etc. If we think, waste was once a resource which was modified into things of use that turned into waste. If we turn it into a resource, then we will have a perfectly circular economy The World Bank’s recent global review of solid waste reports that 400 million tonnes of scrap metal and 175 million tonnes of paper and cardboard are recycled annually (World Bank, 2012), representing a significant savings of global natural resources. In addition, using recycled content in manufacturing new products conserves energy.
6.Renewable sources of energy:
Renewable energy is energy produced from sources that do not deplete or can be replenished within a human's lifetime. They ensure sustainable development by dramatically reducing the chances of depletion of energy sources. Most of them are also non-polluting. The Most common examples include wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower. Use of renewable energy in green cities is of utmost importance. This is because energy generation is one of the biggest causes of pollution. Renewable energy helps in reducing carbon footprint. By adapting to renewable resources helps us be one step closer to a green city. Solar energy is the most promising, it does not have many drawbacks and is economically more viable than most other renewable sources. Renewable sources of energy is one of those things, without which we cannot possibly call a city green!
Biodiversity means the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat. It has been seen that higher biodiversity equates to a more sustainable ecosystem. It is important to protect of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity as it is vital for ensuring long-term sustainability.Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss, Forests cover 30 percent of the Earth’s surface and in addition to providing food security and shelter, forests are key to combating climate change, protecting biodiversity and the homes of the indigenous population. In a green city one of the main issues will be to save biodiversity in areas which are cleared to build roads, buildings etc.. when comparing cities, the one which has tackled this issue better can possibly be called a greener city.
Public awareness plays a key role in a green future. Till the people don't know enough and are not concerned to protect the environment, then a green future is impossible. Therefore we feel that it is important to keep public awareness as a criteria for judging a green city. Even if masses follow basic instructions like segregating waste, not using single use plastic etc. then they will make a huge positive impact towards the environment. A city with greater public awareness will be greener because the ultimate executors of ideas, plans and policies are the people themselves. It can be spread through education. Setting a state specified curriculum,topics like sustainability greenhouse gases carbon footprints should be incorporated in the syllabus to provide the students a better understanding of what a green city means. Education will help secure the future of a green city. Not just kids but the grown ups should be fully aware about it. Measuring it via test based census can give us important data about the greenness of a city.
9.Land use management:
The infrastructure of a green city has to be such that the land is well used.As we have talked in Biodiversity protection, making houses, roads etc. requires land to be cleared, reducing biodiversity.In a green city this problem can be fought by building on less land. It would mean narrower roads and tall buildings instead of wide highways(where they are not required) and mansions. A residential skyscraper could house potentially thousands on the size of land that would have not have housed many if it was occupied by mansions or bungalows. This would allow a city to have a lot more space for protected biodiversity hotspots and natural parks.
Participants: Advit Garg, Anant Jha,Gunjan Kanwar, Ishaan Khosla,Manya Sethi,Nidhi Rahul Kokadwar, Rishika Sharda.