Urban Living: Building Smart, Sustainable Cities of Tomorrow
A smart and sustainable future means building the cities of tomorrow – today. We explore some of the most future-forward cities in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Smart and sustainable cities represent the future of urban development across the world. Right now, more than half of the global population lives in a city and, by 2050, it’s estimated that this will increase to 80%. This means an additional 2.5 billion people migrating to urban areas, with the majority taking place in Africa and Asia. According to the UN, urban growth will be most pronounced in China, India and Nigeria. Africa is expected to double its population by 2050, while Asia hosts the majority of the world’s megacities – those with a population of over 10 million people.
As urban populations increase, so will the urgency for cities to adapt and be able to provide residents with high quality of life. This means that across the region, resources will be stretched, consumption will grow, and the infrastructure of many cities will be stress-tested, particularly under the effect of the climate change. To combat these challenges, it’s important to innovate the way we build and concept urban areas and move people and goods around them.
UN Habitat estimated that while cities account for just less than 2% of the Earth’s surface, they consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions. Cities in Asia Pacific and Africa are also incredibly vulnerable to climate change. To name a few examples, Mumbai, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Lagos and Jakarta are coastal cities, threatened by rising sea levels and extreme weather. The Middle East and North Africa region is warming at twice the global average, bringing threats of floods, prolonged droughts and crop failure.
This is where smart cities can help. The more future-proof we build our cities - using methods and materials that minimize environmental impact - the greater chance our planet has of combating climate issues.
What makes a city smart?
Smart cities should not be defined by technology and convenience alone. It’s just as important to also look at how cities are finding integrated and connected solutions to alleviate growing urban problems such as mobility, environmental protection, sustainability and more. Besides, a city must be able to facilitate trade and create a smart and sustainable economy for the benefit of all.
The Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index (SCI) puts the environment and communities as our first priority, mapping profit as simply a way of unlocking greater sustainability, for the planet and its inhabitants. Cities ranking highly in the SCI 2022 focus on Planet, People and Profit, in that order.
Ultimately, no two cities are the same. Each has its own set of urban problems, which call for a unique set of smart infrastructure and sustainable solutions. Check out five smart cities in the region, highlighted for their innovations in mapping a better future for residents and the planet:
1. SINGAPORE – smart housing solutions
2. DUBAI - one eye on the future
Considerable resources are also being poured into sustainability, with plans to source 75% of energy from renewables by 2050. Dubai’s ambition is to become the city with the lowest carbon footprint in the world. Projects such as the ‘Sustainable City’ are being piloted to build sustainable housing development models that recycle as many resources as possible to produce more energy than is consumed.
3. SONGDO – sustainable living
4. TAIPEI – smart partnerships
5. CAPE TOWN – connected by data
Connecting the dots
At FedEx, we believe a connected world is a better world, and smart cities will remain a cornerstone of this to create a better environment for our communities, customers and employees – as well as to help small businesses embrace and offer many of the innovations they need to grow. For well over a decade, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and FedEx have been working together to implement programs to help cities overcome specific challenges such as enhancing access and mobility, lessening congestion, elevating safety and improving air quality.
We’re also investing in our operations, such as vehicle electrification, use of sustainable fuels and making our facilities more sustainable as we work towards our goal of carbon neutral operations globally by 2040.
Want to find out more about the innovations FedEx is making in a smart city near you? Sign up for our eNews here.
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