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Sustainable City: What You Need to Know About Green City

by | Feb 22, 2022 | Community, Sustainability

Last Updated on August 14, 2022

The world population is growing and cities keep encountering a huge rise in the number of people. Today nearly 4.4 billion people live in urban areas. This represents 56% of the world population and the number keeps growing.

It is estimated that by 2050 the world population will reach 9.8 billion. It is also estimated that 68% of the world population will live in urban areas. So the number of urban residents by 2050 is estimated to reach around 6.66 billion people.

Now even if cities cover only 3% of the world’s surface, they are the key contributor to climate change. Urban activities account for 70% of global carbon emissions. And to keep activity up and running, it consumes 75% of the global energy generated.

These numbers are getting worse as the urban population increases. Population rise also means increased demand for infrastructure and resources. Now try to imagine 6.6 billion people living in such a compact area in the future, this can be a nightmare!

Cities will have to build more infrastructure to accommodate the ever-growing urban population. But the problem is that buildings are made up of concrete and steel which are two materials that emit a lot of carbon emissions.

To make matters worst, the planet is getting warmer by the day. Cities are under the pressure of climate change and heat island effects. Urban areas are densely populated and are more vulnerable to climate disasters.

Throughout history, cities have expanded only to accommodate the ever-growing population without taking into consideration the environment and impact on climate change.

Fortunately, some cities are showing hope and researchers are pioneering new ways in which development can be made sustainable. Urban planners and architects are working on projects intended to create a more sustainable tomorrow.

At present, the concept of sustainable cities is very challenging. It is intended to become the future of urban areas with a view to ecological transition. But what exactly is a sustainable city?

What is a sustainable city?

A sustainable city is a city designed with the fundamental principles of sustainable development where everything is a question of balance. The aim is to transit the way typical metropolis operate into a more ecological one.

Sustainable cities are also referred to as eco-cities and green cities. A green city is one where people grow and produce their food, manage their waste, and assimilate into the ecosystem.

These livable cities take into account the environmental, social, and economic impacts of human activity to avoid compromising future generations’ ability to experience and consume the same resource as we do.

The goal is to build an eco-city that is not only healthy but also environmentally friendly. The urban community is designed with environmental concerns in mind and ensures that it does not exhaust the planet’s resources before future generations have the opportunity to benefit from them.

City sustainability concepts aim at increasing urban population comforts as well as productive life without compromising future generations’ ability to live the same way as we do.

A green city can be considered a resilient city since it can adapt to the current climatic context to limit its environmental impact. It is a metropole capable of sustaining itself over time while meeting the needs of its inhabitants. Why there is a need for need green city?

Why do we need sustainable cities?

To understand where such ideas come from, it is first necessary to explain the vital issues that are arising in cities. Cities have become a large concentration population and industries as well as generating a lot of waste, greenhouse gases, and energy overconsumption.

Today, cities across the world are under enormous pressure to adapt to the changing circumstances of their global economic, environmental, and societal activities.

The current pandemic is a prime example, which has a massive impact on health and the social fabric in urban areas. On top of that, the environment is putting even more pressure on cities.

Additionally, excessive energy use and transportation are increasingly contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, which affect the economy, food supplies, and wildlife. And with more than two-thirds of the world’s population expected to live in urban areas, this can lead to catastrophic results.

Problems in cities:


As mentioned before urban residents account for more than two third of the global population. While cities are innovation and economic hubs, the byproduct of this large amount of people is the real problem. Problems associated with overpopulation in cities are high crime rates, overconsumption, waste, and poverty.


The concept of consumerism in cities is quite relevant. In fact, consumerism is a way of life in urban areas and it is also associated with urban development. Consumerism is one of the most prominent factors in inner-city development.

However, overconsumption is leading to obesity, increase waste and pollution, and depletion of resources. It is also reducing productivity because people are in their comfort zone.

A study from 2016 revealed that more than 1.9 billion people were considered overweight and 650 million were obese. Obesity is mostly relevant to a sedentary and consumeristic lifestyle. Most obese people are unable to live a normal and productive life and are often subject to health issues.

Increase waste

Global waste generation is rising at an alarming rate. In 2020, it was estimated that globally 2.24 billion tonnes of solid waste were generated. This number represents a footprint of 0.79 kg per person per day.

And the matter is expected to get even worst with urbanization and a rising population. An increase of 73% is expected from the period of 2020 to 2050. Hence the amount of waste that humans will generate by 2050 is forecasted at 3.88 billion tonnes.

Waste management is essential for a livable city, but it remains a challenge for many developing countries and overpopulated cities. Waste management is often expensive, and can comprise up to 20–50% of municipal budgets in developing countries.

Improper waste management mostly affects the urban poor. In low-income countries, over 90% of waste is often disposed of in unregulated dumps or openly burned. These improper practices cause serious health, safety, and environmental consequences.

Waste accumulation also serves as a breeding ground for disease, and contributes to global climate change through methane generation. Operating waste management systems efficiently, and sustainably is very important for the city.

Traffic problem

As the population of the city increases, the number of vehicles also increases. While the number of vehicles on roads is increasing daily, this also causes traffic congestion.

It is estimated that in 2022, there are around 1.45 billion vehicles in the world and 1.1 billion passenger cars. A study from 2018 reveals that in America alone, traffic congestion cost the country USD 87 billion. This represents USD 1348 per driver per year.

A metropolis that struggles with congestion is not a happy place to live. For example, drivers have to plan an average 48-minute trip for free flow traffic, which means that they are wasting time that could have been spent enjoying their daily lives instead.

This in turn lowers the quality of life and reduces their productivity. And since we are constantly stuck in traffic, it is especially frustrating to be unable to reach our destinations on time.

Noise pollution

Noise pollution in cities is a significant concern. The decibel level of noise pollution in urban areas exceeds the safe level of 85 decibels. For instance, a car horn produces 90dB and a bus horn produces 100dB.

It is estimated that noise in cities is the biggest health risk. According to a study by Khyber Medical College in Peshawar, the amount of noise generated by trucks and car horns has increased by 126.4%, while the number of roads in the city has only increased by 0.85%.

Sewage problem

The sewage problem in cities is a very serious issue. Sewage treatment is costly and often taken for granted. Most of the time sewage is dumped without being treated. This in turn spread waste, germs, foul odour, and toxic chemicals.

Globally, more than 359 billion cubic meters of wastewater are produced each year. With the rising population and lack of treatment facilities, sewage treatment plants cannot process all the sewage, and huge amounts of it are spewed into the city’s waterways.

Insfrastrcuture problem

While we can take great pride in the beauty of a city and enjoy its majesty, the fact remains that it faces infrastructure problems. A city’s transportation system is a vital part of daily life, and when it breaks down, an entire day can be interrupted.

In addition to poor quality transportation systems, poor urban planning and a lack of investment in infrastructure, and maintenance make it impossible to live in and work in.

Water supply and wastage

The world is faced with a water crisis. It is estimated that 1.1 billion people don’t have access to water and 2.7 billion people face water scarcity at least one month a year. Water scarcity is mostly due to a lack of infrastructure maintenance and wastage.

Pollution and human consumption and lifestyle are detrimental to the water supply. The agriculture sector consumes 70% of the world’s freshwater where 60% of it goes to waste. It takes 2700 liter of water just to manufacture a t-shirt.

For instance, Karachi, Pakistan, is one of the world’s 20 megacities, but the gap between supply and demand for water is widening. The city’s population growth has always exceeded projections, and mega water supply projects have always been delayed.

This crisis has led to a situation in which households rely on limited supplies, while industries and the public rely on water pumped from groundwater and tankers. Residents face a “tanker mafia” that has monopolized the water supply industry.

Energy intensive and carbon emitter

Cities are fast-moving environments and are an important component of a country. For a city to function properly, it needs transport, buildings, infrastructure, businesses, water distribution, food production and distribution, and many more.

And to keep these activities up and running, energy is needed. Metropolis required an uninterrupted supply of energy which is why 75% of the world’s energy supply is directed to them. But there are also byproducts. Urban activities are also responsible for around 60% of global greenhouse emissions.

Climate change

Climate change is already affecting cities. Urban areas are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, which can wreak havoc on residential areas.

Global warming

Cities account for around 60% of global carbon emissions, with most coming from motorized transport, industrial systems, and infrastructure constructed from carbon-intensive materials.

Since 1880, the earth’s temperature has risen by 1.1 degrees as a result of human activities. Experts estimated that global warming should not exceed 1.5 degrees otherwise the consequences will be disastrous.

If we want to limit temperatures below the 1.5 degrees warming target, we need massive decarbonization of cities, investments in low-carbon energy systems, programs to reduce urban sprawl, and nature-based solutions to climate change, urban cooling, and disaster risk management.

Heat island effect

Cities are also under the pressure of the heat island effect as a result of global warming. Heat island effects is the result of covering natural land with urban development, increasing the temperature of surrounding areas.

This heat trap can have disastrous consequences, increasing the incidence of asthma and other health issues. Sadly, heat-related deaths are the most widespread effect of climate change.

Rising sea level

Climate change and global warming are melting the icecap giving rise to sea water level. Nearly 2.4 billion people live within 100km of an oceanic coast. More than 416 million people are at risk of rising seawater.

Coastal cities around the world are already under threat from rising seawater. Rising sea levels will not only make coastal cities unhabitable but also cause hundreds of thousands of people to lose their homes. The resulting damage is estimated at trillions of dollars.

Scarcity of resources

Increase in the global population and urbanization inevitably give rise to the demand for resources. Every person will need and want the same resources that others get. This put enormous pressure on the environment.

Developing and expanding cities are expected to double material consumption in the next few decades, to reach up to six out of ten people on the planet.

We are already faced with a scarcity of resources. The dramatic increase in urbanization will inevitably increase the demand for resources and add more pressure to the existing environmental problems.

Air pollution

If you live in a big city, chances are you are exposed to some form of air pollution. Even if you don’t live in a major city, you can still experience the effects of air pollution in a small town.

In fact, almost 90% of the population breathes potentially harmful air. Air pollution has been linked to a host of illnesses, including heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke.

Some air pollutants even act as potent greenhouse gases that feed climate change, making it even more important for cities to improve the quality of their air.

Hence, an alternative to this way of living is essential for a better future. Greener cities are the most logical idea for a sustainable future and more ecological town planning.

Benefits of sustainable city

You are probably wondering what the benefits of living in green cities are. First of all, here are some characteristics of a sustainable city:

  • Walkable and Bikeable
  • Metro and high-speed rail
  • Electric cars and more charging stations
  • Solar farms
  • Green building
  • Vertical farms
  • Green spaces
  • Vertical forest
  • Recycling
  • Permaculture

The biggest benefit of this lifestyle is healthy but also living in a safe, viable, and environment-friendly city. Other benefits are:

Reduce stress

Living in a self-sustainable city is more than a nice idea. They are less stressful than living in a traditional city. Noise, traffic, overcrowded area, and bad air quality are stressful situations. Greener cities contribute to a better quality of life and return to peace and quiet.

Reduce pollution

By using eco-friendly practices and green spaces, city sustainability concept can improve air quality and reduce pollution. Ultimately, this will lead to a healthier environment for residents.

Incorporating more trees in the greenest city is a great way to cool the air and reduce temperature. Not only do trees provide shade on the street, but they also reduce air pollution and can somehow reduce the effects of heat island effects.

A green city is not only less polluted but also more environmentally friendly. This concept reduces urban carbon footprint or can possibly help cities reaches carbon neutral, which is essential to reversing global climate change.

User-friendly and healthy

A city of green can be both environmentally friendly and user-friendly. The push to create sustainable cities is one way to enrich the lives of people living in urban areas. This concept promotes a green environment, human contact, riding, and walking spaces. All these factors have a positive impact on the physical, mental and social health of citizens.

Reduce pressure on the environment

Sustainability in cities is becoming an important issue for urban areas around the world. Cities have to take the burden of global warming upon themselves and local authorities have to work toward making it more environmentally friendly.

Self-sustainable cities can successfully incorporate green practices in their urban areas through sustainable city planning. The practices also encourage citizens to reduce the amount of waste they generate and reduce their energy consumption.

A sustainable city has multiple modes of transportation, including mass transit, biking, and walking. It also encourages telework, and e-commerce to reduce the number of trips to the office, and traffic calming could make streets safer for pedestrians and reduce CO2.

Strong community

One of the key elements of a sustainable city is access to green spaces and walking/biking paths. These places not only help reduce pollution and waste but also improve mental and physical health of citizens while creating a strong community.

Since sustainable cities aim at promoting walking and biking there is less traffic and pollution. This means there are fewer accidents and better air quality hence creating a safe and healthy environment for citizens.

Green cities produced their energy and food. As a result, its ecological and economic structures allow its inhabitants to live in self-sufficiency. 

Fewer cars and Less traffic

Since a sustainable city encourages and prioritizes cycling and walking and the use of public transport like the metro, there are fewer vehicles on the road. Thus, there is less traffic in a sustainable city. A reduction in car traffic will improve the quality of life, reduce carbon emissions and protect the climate while also reducing road accidents.

More productive

Average citizen spends 15% of their time in traffic and 20% looking for parking space. Since in a sustainable city there is no traffic, workers have more time and energy to spend at work hence increasing productivity.

Moreover, a sustainable city is more productive because its environment and population are more active and less affected by the effects of climate change and pollution. The citizens live in a healthy environment.

Fewer water shortages

A sustainable city is one that has fewer water shortages. It is a place where water is used more efficiently and fewer resources are wasted.

A sustainable city has a high level of water resiliency because infrastructures are well maintained to prevent leakage and wastage. The key is to ensure that water is used in the most efficient and sustainable way.

Access to fresh produce

With vertical farming, it is possible to grow vegetables and fruits within the city limits, and this is a great way to reduce food waste. A sustainable city would have a diverse food system that supports local farmers and businesses.

These producers can sell their produce to the public and thus reducing the distance that food needs to travel. And while citizens are purchasing local produce, they are contributing to the local economy by preventing money to leave the city.

Lower electricity bill

Living in a sustainable city lowers your electricity bill because it is more inclined toward renewable sources and encourages energy-efficient appliances while discouraging energy wastage.

By focusing on renewable sources of energy, a sustainable city reduces its carbon footprint while simultaneously reducing its power bill. In addition, by using energy-efficient technologies and appliances, citizens can improve their quality of life while enjoying cheaper energy bills.

Reduce carbon emission

A sustainable city is one that encourages alternative low-carbon transportation. Instead of riding a car, commuters use public transportation to get around. Cities also encourage walking and cycling and more importantly electric vehicles.

Biking is an easy way to get around a city. For instance, cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen are almost car-free. These cities encourage citizens to walk and use cycle.

Other ways include recycling and composting waste and converting it to energy. A sustainable city also aims to reduce its carbon footprint by using renewable energy and efficient land use.

Final word

Nature is key for city residents and urban well-being but also to biodiversity. If cities completely deviate from this subject and do not contribute to protecting biodiversity, it is sure that there will be severe consequences.

Through a sustainable approach, a lot of the issues explained earlier can be mitigated. The concept is mostly about living together, creating links, and reimagining living spaces without affecting the environment.

We have to understand that we are part of nature and that we cannot live without it. A connection with nature is necessary. It must also be integrated and protected in cities.