Reduce Environment Impact on Cities

Planning for sustainable future of the is more important today than never before. Presently more than half  of the world’s inhabitants are living in cities and the migration trend is expected to  continue. More than half of humanity – 4.2 billion people – lives in cities today  and by 2030, it is estimated that six out of ten people will be city dwellers. By  2030, the world is projected to have 43 megacities with more than 10 million  inhabitants each, most of them in developing regions.

However, some of the  fastest-growing urban agglomerations are cities with fewer than 1 million  inhabitants, many of them located in Asia and Africa. UN noted that one in eight people  live in 33 megacities worldwide, close to half of the world’s urban dwellers reside  in much smaller settlements with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants. The world’s  cities occupy just 3% of the planet’s land but account for 60-80% of all energy  consumption and 75% of the planet’s carbon emissions. Rapid urbanisation is  exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment and  public health. Our rapidly growing urban world is experiencing congestion, a lack  of basic services, a shortage of adequate housing, and declining infrastructure says United Nations India.  More than thirty percent of the world’s urban population lives in slums, and in  Sub-Saharan Africa, over half of all city dwellers are slum dwellers. 

The pledge of Goal 11 to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe,  resilient and sustainable provides an unparalleled opportunity for the attainment  of collective and inclusive progress, and for the achievement of sustainable  development in the world. Nonetheless, although cities are often characterized by  stark socioeconomic inequalities, social exclusion, extreme poverty,  unemployment, poor environmental conditions, and High production greenhouse gas emissions, their potential for growth and development makes them strong  drivers for positive change. Their density and economies of agglomeration act as strings that connect all Sustainable Development goals together, linking economy,  energy, environment, science, technology and social and economic outcomes.  With nearly 54% of the world’s population living in cities today—and potentially  two-thirds by 2030—this critical mass of urban dwellers has an enormous  potential for change both in urban and rural areas as per UN

Indicator 11.6.1

Cities have significant pressures  on public services, with poor waste management leading to negative side effects  on health and biodiversity. Investing in improved urban solid waste management (SWM)systems has positive effects on various SDGs and other global agendas. It is  strongly connected to health, but also to poverty, as SWM’s informal sector self employment collection and recycling provides sustainable livelihoodsto many  urban poor. Notwithstanding the quality and efficiency of collection, based on  data collected for 213 cities/municipalities, 74 per cent of municipal solid waste is  collected. The collection of solid waste is a particular challenge in cities in sub Saharan Africa, were less than 50 per cent of all municipal waste is collected. 

Indicator 11.6.2

In 2016, 91 per cent of the urban population still breathed air  that did not meet the WHO’s Air Quality Guidelines value for particulate matter  (PM 2.5) and more than half was exposed to air pollution levels at least 2.5 times  above that safety standard. Air pollution today is also responsible for around 3.4  million deaths annually, affecting everyone, regardless of geography or social  status, and is indeed one of the global environmental challenge of the 21st century. Studies indicate that in recent years’ exposure levels have increased  significantly in some parts of the world, particularly in rapidly industrializing  countries with large populations. Despite the advancements in technologies in  monitoring of air pollution, there are still many gaps in global monitoring to  better understand risks to human health and ecosystems. Global standards must  be adopted with better monitoring across cities and within cities, which offer  higher levels of disaggregation of information. Capacity development must  address hardware and systems that process the collected data, including support  for creating central database facilities for air quality. 

Urban waste management (UWM)

UWM is strongly associated to safe drinking water, sanitation  and hygiene; energy systems are critical for the development of safe, resilient and  sustainable human settlements; and inclusive and productive cities are important for entrepreneurship and job creation. Similarly, resilient infrastructure and  industrialization are essential for the prosperity of cities;and the efficient  management of natural resources, safe disposal and treatment of toxic waste and  pollutants can contribute to health, as well as responsible consumption and  production. The goal on cities offers many opportunities to develop mitigation  and adaptation strategies to address climate change especially through  environmentally sustainable and resilient urban development. The proper  management of waste generated by cities has direct implications on the pollution  of oceans and the degradation of natural habitats and the loss of biodiversity  largely depends on the way cities are managed. 

Municipal Solid Waste

The waste generated by households, and waste of a similar  nature generated by commercial and business establishments, industrial and  agricultural premises, institutions such as schools and hospitals, public spaces  such as parks and streets and construction sites. Generally, it is non-hazardous  wastes composed of food waste, garden waste, paper and cardboard, wood,  textiles, nappies (disposable diapers), rubber and leather, plastics, metal, glass,  and refuse such as ash, dirt and dust. Sewage sludge and faecal sludge is also  included in the category of municipal solid waste but it excludes wastewater.  Cities in developed countries in general have special treatment and diposal  system that are designed to collect and handle these separately from municipal  solid waste, while it is not uncommon that these are mixed and dumped in an  uncontrolled manner in cities in developing countries. Other Solid Waste is waste  that require special treatment such as hazardous waste from industrial processes,  agricultural activities and mining wastes, hospital waste, end of life vehicles,  construction and demolition waste. 

Air pollution

It consists of many pollutants, among other particulate matter. These  particles are able to penetrate deeply into the respiratory tract and therefore  constitute a risk for health by increasing mortality from respiratory infections and  diseases, lung cancer, and selected cardiovascular diseases. 

In 2016, 91 per cent of the urban population still breathed air that did not meet  the WHO’s Air Quality Guidelines value for particulate matter (PM 2.5) and more  than half was exposed to air pollution levels at least 2.5 times above that safety  standard. Air pollution today is also responsible for around 3.4 million deaths annually, affecting everyone, regardless of geography or social status, And is  indeed one of the global environmental challenge of the 21st century. Studies indicate that in recent years’ exposure levels have increased significantly in some  parts of the world, particularly in rapidly industrializing countries with large  populations. Despite the advancements in technologies in monitoring of air  pollution, there are still many gaps in global monitoring to better understand risks  to human health and ecosystems. Global standards must be adopted with better  monitoring across cities and within cities, which offer higher levels of  disaggregation of information. Capacity development must address hardware and  systems that process the collected data, including support for creating central  database facilities for air quality. 

The goal on cities offers many opportunities to develop mitigation and  adaptation strategies to address climate change especially through  environmentally sustainable and resilient urban development. The proper  management of waste generated by cities has direct implications on the pollution  of oceans and the degradation of natural habitats and the loss of biodiversity  largely depends on the way cities are managed. And the efficient management of  natural resources, safe disposal and treatment of toxic waste and pollutants can  contribute to health, as well as responsible consumption and production. 

Large and densely populated cities place significant pressures on public services,  with poor waste management leading to negative side effects on health and  biodiversity. Investing in improved urban solid waste management (SWM)systems  has positive effects on various SDGs and other global agendas. It is strongly  connected to health, but also to poverty, as SWM’s informal sector self employment collection and recycling provides sustainable livelihoods to many  urban poor. Notwithstanding the quality and efficiency of collection, based on  data collected for 213 cities/municipalities, 74 per cent of municipal solid waste is  collected.

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