According to a new U.N. study, the world’s urban areas are expected to increase in population from 3.5 billion to 4.9 billion by 2030, with total area covered by cityscapes to expand up to 150%.
Some are seeing this as a prime opportunity to build greener, healthier cities that can more easily accommodate growing populations, particularly in India and China where growth is expected to be the quickest.
Some of the easiest, most impactful measures would include more parks, trees, and rooftop gardens, which will help filter dust, soak up carbon dioxide, reduce health risks, and protect wildlife. Having more greenery also means cities will be cooler in the summer, requiring less use of air conditioning.
“Sustainable urban development that supports valuable ecosystems presents a major opportunity for improving lives and livelihoods,” said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme.
The study also notes that in the United States, city parks can increase nearby property values by as much as 15%, depending on the quality of the park.
Some cities are already taking the initiative toward greening up their surroundings. Mexico City, for example, started a “Green Roof Program” with a goal of creating 10,000 square meters of new roof gardens every year.
If cities do expand as expected, this also means there is a risk of forcing farms and agricultural land to move elsewhere in order to accommodate more people. This means it is even more crucial to increase sustainability efforts and promote urban gardens and parks.
Do you see your city expanding? What kind of initiatives is your community taking to make it greener and healthier?
Image CC licensed by SH2005