The idea of cities that give something back is starting to gain momentum as the reality of human induced climate change is literally alleviating around the world.

Cities are facing new and rapidly evolving challenges, right from the effects of global warming to increasing urban populations. So what are the urban planning strategies or changes we need in order to transform our cities into liveable and sustainable habitats for now and the future?

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Until recently, major urban planning strategies covered all aspects from aesthetic to practical: streets, building facades, parks, sewers and water works, facilities and public monuments. Today, urban planners need to adapt and accommodate to include sustainable objectives.

 The globalised world is only becoming more interconnected year by year. The future of our cities depends on the considerations of these global issues facing us such as climate change mitigation, social inclusion and preserving cultural heritage. Regenerative urban planning could be the key.

Urban regeneration - is at the core of city planning. Urban regeneration can be defined as the integrated local redevelopment of deprived areas (neighbourhood, city, metropolitan area). It covers many aspects of city life: physical, social and environmental. Approaches depend on a city’s history, and therefore policies must be integrated and area-based.

Regenerative urban planning – engages urban regeneration at a new level to ensure cities not only become resource-efficient and low carbon-emitting, but go beyond that to positively enhance the ecosystems which provide them with goods and services, and it’s place in the larger world system too. (Already the resources for future generations are compromised, combat plans need to go beyond just preserving them, but regenerating them).

Fiona Woo writes, “The solution lies in thinking beyond the vague and unambitious notion of sustainability and, instead, actively working towards regenerating soils, forests and watercourses. The aim is to improve rather than merely sustaining their currently degraded condition. “

What we need is a new agenda to create regenerative cities, especially for those countries developing at fast pace. There is an opportunity for them to skip the industrial stages that established countries passed through and arrive at a more sustainable and regenerative model from the start. Furthermore this type of planning and realization needs to be made accessible so it doesn’t remain simply a picturesque vision.

People need to take on these challenges and actively participate in making a difference in our surroundings.

Taking small steps can reduce the pressure on environment drastically; just by switching off at the power point appliances and equipment such as mobile phone chargers, televisions, set-top boxes, microwave ovens, games consoles, DVD players etc you can save about 500kg of CO2 pollution and $125 per year.

It’s a simple action but can make a big difference. There is no single solution to climate change; it needs to be approached holistically from all areas of life from the small to the big.


This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.