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The Weight of Cities: Resource Requirements of Future Urbanization

With the world population expected to swell by almost two and a half billion people by 2050, new and existing cities must accommodate many of them. Depending on the choices we make, this could exacerbate existing problems like pollution, congestion, lack of infrastructure or public services, and marginalization of the poor. Or, if we rethink urban living and its governance, it could equally be an opportunity to develop the low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially just cities called for in the New Urban Agenda. This assessment report from the International Resource Panel, explores this transition through urban planning, investment in resource efficient infrastructure technologies and entrepreneurial governance.

The report suggests a fundamentally new approach to the way we design cities, so that people live in functionally and socially mixed neighbourhoods with better mobility options, including public transport, walking and cycling. They should have more energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting and more resource efficient components, such as vehicles, infrastructure, buildings and factories. All of which should be complemented by changing habits from consumers and producers of good and services, including better waste management or recycling.

For example, the area of Hammarby Sjo╠łstad in Stockholm, Sweden, has been transformed from an industrial brownfield into a desirable place to live. The redevelopment created a compact area of medium-sized city blocks, small enough to walk around, with a network of green spaces, quays and walkways running through it. During development, a great deal of thought went into how people could move around their community. The use of sustainable transport is encouraged through an education centre, which provides information and promotes environmentally friendly choices and actions.

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United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)
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9 February 2018

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