Author | Diana Pardo
Until recently, cities across the world were built without taking into account elements such as acoustic pollution, levels of CO2 emissions, air pollution or areas designed for green zones. However, today, these are priority factors for the wellbeing of citizens and the protection of the environment. Not just that: they now form an indelible part of complete urban planning strategies.
What makes a city green?
Green cities are those that have plenty of natural spaces designed to improve the wellbeing and health of their inhabitants, they have low levels of environmental pollution and greenhouse gases, they promote eco-friendly and sustainable building practices and their citizens are educated and act in accordance with pro-environmental criteria.
However, not all cities benefit from being located in areas that can accommodate vegetation or public parks. In this case, the aim is to preserve resources that may be extremely scarce. It is about protecting what one has.
C40 Cities: Climate Leadership Group
The C40 is made up of a group of over 90 international cities, bringing together over 650 million citizens aiming to join forces and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impact of climate change. The members of this group are convinced that climate change is the biggest challenge our species will face this century and over 70% of the member cities have managed to apply initiatives to combat this circumstance.
The most recent Summit held in 2017 in Chicago as the featured city, also served to announce the list of the 10 most sustainable cities in the world. The first five are as follows:
The Danish capital dominates the top of the ranking. More than half of the city’s inhabitants use a bicycle as their normal form of transport. It has over 2,220 hectares of green areas with public access. It is currently committed to achieving another goal: becoming the first carbon emissions-free city by 2025.
Chicago has firmly committed to energy efficiency and clean energies. It has established a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save costs for residents and local businesses.
3-Dar Es Salaam
This is the most populated city in Tanzania. It focuses its efforts on combating environmental pollution produced by classic transport elements. To do so it has created a rapid transit bus system, which incorporates new low-carbon engines and transports more than 200,000 passengers a day.
4- New York
New York is the most populated city in the USA and one of the most inhabited in the world, therefore it is also committed to sustainable transport. It has a programme called South Bronx Clean Truck, which promotes the purchase of low-carbon vehicles and replaces old ones with the aim of reducing air pollution.
The largest and most populated city in New Zealand. It has implemented Auckland’s Waste to Resources initiative, which focuses on waste management by developing measures to recover and recycle 65% of the waste collected in containers.
After these, the ranking continues with Phoenix, Mexico City, Fort Collins, Wuhan and Washington DC. Their initiatives are available here.
Copenhagen to host Green Cities 2019
The C40 will be held in October 2019 in the city that dominates the ranking. Despite the cities on the list complying with their solid commitments in the area of climate, new incorporations are expected.
- Amsterdam is focusing on preserving and promoting urban gardens by installing 50,000 square metres of green roofs.
- Stockholm wants to become the first 100% fossil fuel-free city by 2050.
- Berlin has reduced its CO2 emissions considerably and has undertaken to reduce them by a further 85% by 2050.
- San Francisco, implemented a water conservation programme in recent years.
- Vancouver with its Stanley Park, considered the third largest urban park in North America, is committed to a new initiative with the Greenest City Action Plan.
The predictions are on the table.
The trend towards greener cities will benefit all of us economically since both parks and gardens are considered high-value assets that contribute to the reduction of healthcare costs, they help reduce air temperature and they increase the value of land and energy efficiency.
Images | Dimitris Vetsikas