There is no Planet B!

Hi all,

I’m Divesh Lachhwani and currently a final year student studying BSc (Hons) Finance & Economics at this prestigious university and have a yearning ambition to contribute to the growth and prosperity of our society and environment through the growth of sustainable development. For that reason, I am honoured to be a part of the delegation from Lancaster University to attend the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in Chennai, as this event provides me with the opportunity to network and engage with like-minded individuals and corporate executives who believe their respectable companies too have a role in achieving the role of effective corporate governance and sustainable development.

This year at Chennai, the WBCSD committee will be focusing on the Council’s future through strategic development and I expect and hope for the Council to introduce the crucial role that technology and social media have to play in our current generation to spread awareness and knowledge amongst the rest of the world. This is especially true for developing countries, as sustainability can only be achieved collectively, when the rest of the world acts towards society objectives in unison.
Furthermore, I am optimistic that there will be an initiative to introduce the topic of regulatory enforcement coming in to play to encourage sustainable development in all countries, as BRICS countries, which are at the forefront of sustainability, have already endorsed regulatory changes to promote further sustainability.

I believe eco and sustainable developments are powerful forces for addressing the issues of climate change, water conservation and much more and is a phenomenal growth opportunity for future generations to come, which is likely to spur the growth of developing countries as well as reduce wealth inequality.

Achieving sustainability to solve various issues is a key hurdle to overcome in the 21st century however, it is a matter of significance that society has lately begun to realize its importance. What remains to be seen is whether future generations perceive this as a major problem and how we choose to educate and influence others to solve the issues. Therefore, I am honoured to be attending the WBCSD and am convinced that this opportunity will increase my entrepreneurial acumen and aid in the development of my growth as an individual and allow me to play an important role as a member of society in this day and age.

Please refer below to find my essay on the impact of sustainable cities on climate change as this is a cause and solution that I believe the world should be working towards.

How Sustainable Cities are the Key to Climate Change

 Climate change is, and always has been, an issue the world has struggled to adequately address. Economies want to grow, businesses want to prosper and there is only so much that well-informed societies and individuals believe they can do to contribute to the cause of positive climate change in a century where political greed and influence eradicates developments in these priority areas.

However, in recent years, more and more people are becoming well informed about the issue of climate change and have begun accepting the extent of this predicament. Barack Obama put climate change at the top of his agenda during his two terms as President and celebrity icon, Leonardo DiCaprio, has been an advocate of climate change, recently addressing an emotional speech at the United Nations Conference, which consequently created a frenzy over social media thereby influencing the youth of our planet to come together and put this issue at the forefront of their social and human responsibilities.

In my attempt to address this issue, I believe ‘Sustainable Cities’ are the way forward and is contracted to pave the path towards a more responsible community and a safer and protected Planet Earth in the future.
A recent report by the UNEP FI in (Wood, 2011) quotes that “Cities account for outsized resource consumption — they are home to 50% of the world’s population but account for 75% of the world’s carbon emissions…”

As world population increases, governments worldwide need to cope with the inevitable increase in urban density and hence cities need to be redeveloped to accommodate this growth. Sustainable cities can therefore be looked at to tackle this issue and curb the negative aspects of climate change.

In recent years, technology has proven to be a key element in solving the world’s issues and through further development, is likely to aid in the creation, awareness and eventual inhabitance of sustainable cities leading to a better climate for the future.

Indigo Development, quoted in (Archive.rec.org, n.d.) precisely describes sustainable cities as…”one in which improvement in the quality of human life is achieved in harmony with improving and maintaining the health of ecological systems; and where a healthy economy’s industrial base supports the quality of both human and ecological systems”.

Sustainable/ eco-cities are therefore believed to be the breakthrough for achieving climate change by alleviating problems developed by unsustainable cities through the use of renewable energy, mass-transit, environmentally efficient building designs, use of bio-fuel as well as conserving water, energy and ecosystems with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste, thereby improving the lifestyle, education and efficiency of communities and societies around the world. It is therefore firmly believed that sustainable cities are the key to climate change.

In a statement made by Michael Bloomberg, (Scott, 2013) quotes in his article that “When it comes to climate change, cities are where the most exciting progress is being made,” and moreover, is likely to be vital to future economic, social and political growth, allowing communities to viably progress together.

It is paramount to note that sustainable urban development allows for density and this is a key leverage point of using this business solution to solve climate change. (Mohieldin and Allaoua, 2013) mention in their literary work…”it costs US$0.70 to US$0.80 per cubic meter to provide piped water in urban areas, compared with US$2 in sparsely populated areas.

Sustainable cities allows us to overcome this problem of waste and cultivates our natural resources due to the increasing trend of rural-to-urban migration and future eco-cities would need to cater to this new inclination.

Unsustainable cities have created efficiency problems and flooding issues, as seen in developing countries such as India, as well as traffic, air and noise pollution and poor utilisation of space which sustainable cities offer to solve.

However, not all work produced by sustainable cities are likely to lead to climate change and some may argue that individually targeting other business solutions to conquer climate change, such as individually introducing rapid transportation and/or water management, one at a time, would be the ideal way to go.
Furthermore, concerns are likely to be raised when addressing economic, political, social and institutional barriers, as people have not yet been wholly educated on the need for sustainability or began to perceive as to how eco cities will lead to climate change.

The truth is, sustainable cities are very costly to design, develop and maintain for incorporating mass transit, renewable energy and waste management and it is inevitable that many regulatory authorities or companies have not wholly embraced the idea of funding for sustainable, low-impact projects when the current model of unsustainable cities is cost-efficient and easier to conserve as industry and regulatory standards have already been set for this (Hammond,2011).

Developing and highly dense countries such as India, China, parts of Africa and South America have diligently accepted the need for sustainable development to accommodate future population growth however, I believe such countries are likely to struggle in this pursuit. This is because there is a major question to be answered when it comes to ‘integration’. This can be in the form of society and infrastructure integration.

The growth of sustainable cities, especially in developing countries arise questions of a behavioural challenge of whether people will adapt to the new trend, are they educated enough to accommodate this new change and will they integrate easily into this new form of living in the name of climate change.
Businesses and governments need to be well versed with this development as it changes the way they and their consumers function as a society, as regulators intervene to set standards of a new way of sustainable living.

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To conclude, population growth is inevitable and climate change is at the forefront of the consequences of population growth. However, I believe eco and sustainable developments are powerful forces for addressing this and creating alliances/ relations that address the issue of climate change. Although it is expensive and an arduous task to maintain, educate the population and regulate land and biodiversity, it is a phenomenal growth opportunity for future generations to come, which is likely to benefit in the growth of developing countries as well as reduce wealth inequality.

Achieving positive climate change is a key hurdle to overcome in the 21st century however, it is a matter of significance that society has lately begun to realise its importance. What remains to be seen is whether future generations perceive this as a major problem or not and how we choose to educate and influence others to solve the issue of climate change, by the roots.

References

Archive.rec.org. (2016). Advantages – Central Europe. [online] Available at: http://archive.rec.org/REC/Programs/SustainableCities/AdvantagesCEE.html [Accessed 6 Aug. 2016].

Archive.rec.org. (n.d.). What is a sustainable city?. [online] Available at: http://archive.rec.org/REC/Programs/SustainableCities/What.html [Accessed 7 Aug. 2016].

Benfield, K. (2013). We Need to Rethink Our Definition of a ‘Sustainable City’. [online] CityLab. Available at: http://www.citylab.com/politics/2013/08/we-need-rethink-our-definition-sustainable-city/6536/ [Accessed 7 Aug. 2016].

Hammond, T. (2011). Ask the Expert: Pros and cons of a sustainable community. [online] http://www.proudgreenhome.com. Available at: http://www.proudgreenhome.com/articles/ask-the-expert-pros-and-cons-of-a-sustainable-community/ [Accessed 6 Aug. 2016].

Mohieldin, M. and Allaoua, Z. (2013). The benefits of building sustainable cities right – Taipei Times. [online] Taipeitimes.com. Available at: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2013/03/03/2003556126 [Accessed 6 Aug. 2016].

Pedraza, J. (2014). What are some of the barriers towards achieving sustainability?. [online] Researchgate.net. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/post/What_are_some_of_the_barriers_towards_achieving_sustainability [Accessed 7 Aug. 2016].

Scott, M. (2013). Cities bypass slow government to lead the way on climate change. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/cities-bypass-government-climate-change [Accessed 6 Aug. 2016].

Wbcsd.org. (n.d.). WBCSD – World Business Council for Sustainable Development. [online] Available at: http://www.wbcsd.org/urban-infrastructure.aspx [Accessed 7 Aug. 2016].

Wood, D. (2011). Making Sustainable Cities Investable – Low2No. [online] Low2no.org. Available at: http://www.low2no.org/essays/making-sustainable-cities [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

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