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Sustainable Cities or Cities that contribute to Sustainable Development
Nur Asyiqin Afiqah bte Hj Ahmad
Two compulsory readings were given to each person in our class and I chose to read Sustainable cities or Cities that contribute to Sustainable development where it focuses on the definition of ‘sustainable cities’ and ‘sustainable human settlements’ in which majority mentions that by reducing the environmental problems it would help to achieve the sustainable development goals. However, from the reading, the author explains that to achieve sustainable cities or sustainable human settlements it did not just focus on environmental problems, one should not neglect the social, economy, political, demographic, cultural goals as it have been said to be part of sustainable development.
After reading this article for more than five times, I realized the author has mentioned about the environmental performances in order to achieve the sustainable development goals. In terms of environmental performances, both countries in the North and South experienced the same problems of depletion of resources, but viewing from the author’s perspectives, he mentions that countries in the North are usually able to solve the environmental problems although there is a disagreement among other authors such that in terms of the non-renewable resources, exploitation of soils and forests, the use of global sink for greenhouse gases show that the level of waste and greenhouse gas emission per capita created by the life styles of most middle and upper-income in the North could not be sustained. They could only bring damages to the environment as the wealthier countries built factories, highways, and started producing and using consumer goods on a large scale, hence the earth’s air and water became polluted, natural resources were depleted, and sensitive habitats were destroyed. However, to compare the North with the South , there are range of problems in the South, for instance from the perspective of the author , cities in the North perform much better for their inhabitants in most cities which contrast the South such as the smaller role of environmental hazard in illness , injury and premature death (WHO,1996 ; UNCHS,1996) Moreover, in terms of average levels of resource use or greenhouse gas emission per person, most cities in the South have much lower levels than cities in the North (Hardoy,1992 ; UNCHS 1996)
The author has also emphasized the importance of social activities in order to achieve sustainable cities. For example, controlling infectious and parasitic diseases in which it links to the environmental problems. This problem usually connected with the inadequate of water and sanitation, be it in the North and South countries. I believe, the government , national and international authorities played important role in order to achieve the sustainable development goals, for example, if government did not take any action or responsibilities, number of problems may arose or if they are only focusing on achieving the environmental performances without looking at any other aspects. This may lead to the emerging and re-emerging of other infectious diseases as most cities concentrate on the large numbers of people who are particularly vulnerable to infection especially those countries in the South as they have high number of infant mortality rates within their population. Furthermore, many particular cities in the North and some in the South have a high concentration of older people who are more vulnerable to many infectious diseases. This may become serious problems if low priority is given or are not being taken into considerations by the governments and other authorities to the public health and health care.
Initially, I noticed that the author did not really mention the issues of the population growth. A Little attention was given to the issue of population growth within the discussion of sustainable development and cities (Smith, 1996). A significant proportion of the urban populations have consumption levels that are so low that they contribute little or nothing to the use of non-renewable resources and the generation of wastes, generation of greenhouse gases. Most resource use and waste generation arise from the consumption patterns of middle and upper income households and the enterprises which produce the goods they consume. From the reading, I felt that the developed countries are more responsible than developing countries in sustaining the cities. This is mainly because, the North countries tend to develop heavy industrialization compared to the countries in the South, hence they are producing more environmental problems and the fact that they are using more resources than the South.
For me, the most important element is meeting the human needs in order to achieve the sustainable development of goals. Meeting the human needs has to be combined with considerations of how to minimize the depletion of environmental capital. There are a lot of different perspectives on achieving sustainable development of goals, for example, phrases such as ‘sustainable cities’, ‘sustainable human developments’ and ‘sustainable urbanization’ do not give exact meaning of these.
The third time I read this article on the topic of considering the environmental performance of cities, I realized that the author distinguished between the different kinds of environment problems when making comparison between cities. The five important categories need to be taken into account such as reducing chemical and physical hazards within the home and the health problem. The health problem are related to human beings in which, previously, I believe it is related to the importance of meeting the human needs. Majority of the countries in the South lived in poor conditions of shelters and neighborhoods where their lives and health were easily threatened because of inadequate provision of safe, insufficient water supplies, poor sanitation removal of solid and liquid waste and lack of health care and emergency services (Caimcross ,1990 ; WHO, 1992)
Previously, I mentioned that meeting the human needs are important and that government, national and international agencies played important role in taking responsibilities. The sustainable developments in regard to cities were addressed and strong priorities to meeting human needs were given in reducing the depletion of natural resources and other environmental problems where this has been stressed during the Habitat II Conference. Having read this article, I now realise that to achieve the sustainable development goals in regards to sustainable cities is not easy as there are a lot of parties or authors that kind of disagree with focusing on the environmental problems and social problems, and meeting the human needs. The sustainable settlements ‘promote’ or ‘should promote’ human needs, and this is a reminder of how complex it can be to reach agreement among so many interested parties (Kakakhel, 1996).
Later, I noticed a high priority to the meeting of human needs in cities and the need for a strong priority for poverty reduction, need to address environmental problems and acknowledge the important heath components are being stressed. There is also a strong stress on the need to strengthen city and municipal authorities. This might be explained by that little mention of the new resources that need to be directed to the meeting of human needs in the nations where there are sufficient resources to achieve this. The definition of sustainable development is meant to sustain whether it is settlements or settlement policies or particular activities within settlements.
I have slightly developed my understanding on this topic , it tells me that in order to achieve the sustainable development goals , the society in general or the living conditions needs to be ‘sustainable’ be it in terms of their activities within urban areas, land development, sustainable transport, sustainable livelihoods, sustainable resource use , sustainable water supply, sustainable energy use, sustaining economic growth and equity. The author also assumed that a concern of environmental quality within cities is all that is needed to achieve the environmental component of sustainable development goals without neglecting the economic and social development.
Are developed countries more responsible for damage to the climate?. Retrieved from: http://www.debate.org/opinions/are-developed-countries-more-responsible-for-damage-to-the-climate
Promoting Sustainable Industry in the Developing World. (2008) Retrieved from : http://www.glica.org/topics/show/53