By now, most people know that a majority of the world’s population live in cities and urban areas. Yet current urban planning systems are not equipped to deal with many of the challenges this population growth has brought. Some of these include: climate change and resource depletion; economic instability and poverty; and, social marginalization and exclusion.
Sustainable urbanism is an emerging discipline that combines creating multi-modal places, nurturing diverse economies and building high-performance infrastructure and buildings. It is more than a synonym for green or ecological urbanism. Rather, it looks at the triple bottom line by making sure that our urban centers are socially inclusion, economically dynamic and environmentally conscious.
Some key tenants of sustainable urbanism include: compact forms of residential development; mixed use centers with homes, jobs, services and shopping in close proximity; integration of transportation and land use; and, the reduction, recovery, re-use and recycling of waste materials.
Many cities and urban planners are already looking at one or more of these issues. The problem is they usually look at them in isolation. This singular approach fails to recognize the overlapping and interrelation between issues. By taking on these challenges in a holistic manner, sustainable urbanism can create resilient cities that are better able to withstand the economic, social and environmental shocks of the 21st century.