Cities are a vital part of the world. More than half of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and the UN says it will be two thirds by 2050. Cities are the entire world’s future. They are the most efficient way for people to live with lowest carbon footprint, when conscientious of sustainability. In order for cities to remain effective and eco friendly, they must adapt to current environmental progression. Sustainable cities are a realist plan for the future.

Sustainable cities consider the most prevalent about current society: economic, social, and cultural growth, while respecting its ecosystem. Current cities must take steps towards this growth to remain livable. How can current cities work towards becoming more sustainable in the future?

Frankfurt, which ranked as the most sustainable city in the world, has created a detailed plan to reduce their CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030. The city will reduce CO2 emissions by 10% each year, build a solar grid around the city, create a greenbelt of trees around the city, reward those who reduce their electricity usage by at least 10% in a year with cash reward, and make sustainable solutions more accessible to companies. The actions towards establishing Frankfurt as a top sustainable city were enforced by the city’s government, but individuals allowed results to be possible. While the city provided a platform for its citizens to be more conscientious of CO2 intake, individuals chose to work toward the 2030 goal.

In Copenhagen, which is ranked in the top ten most sustainable cities, there are bicycle superways covering the city to encourage biking instead of driving. They have synchronized the traffic lights with the speed of the average bicycler, while most cities synch with cars. Copenhagen is making it easier and more efficient to commute by bike and stopping the reliency on cars.

Even though New York City is not one of the most sustainable cities, there have been recent changes to make it more eco-friendly. As of January 2019, there has been a $2.75 congestion tax added to all car service apps, charged in the most crowded parts of manhattan. It has directed more people towards public transportation, ride sharing apps, using citi bikes available for 30 minute rentals around the city, and personal bikes. This tax is going towards improving the public transportation system, allowing more people to utilize it in the future.  

In order for cities to become sustainable cities, they must create realistic goals, including plans on how to achieve these goals. Local government must implement structure for individuals to be able to follow the plans.

However, many cities in developing countries rank as least sustainable because they do not have funds to create a sustainable niche. New Delhi is ranked as one of the least sustainable cities in the world because the government and individuals cannot afford to utilize more sustainable options. For farmers it is easier for them to burn unused crops to clear their fields after harvest, instead of buying a machine to clear them. One of the greatest contributors to their pollution is poor road maintenance. Their roads break down over time as they are excessively used and the slit and other toxic particles contribute to the smog of pollution covering the city. New Delhi is not a sustainable city because it has not adapted overtime to accommodate an increasing amount of citizens.

In order to push all current cities towards becoming sustainable cities, individuals must be educated on the universal impact that it will have on the community and society. More sustainable actions create more jobs. When citizens are committed to a positive change, others will notice and companies and governments can join towards creating a sustainable city.

Author

Rebecca Jekogian is a 15 year old 9th grader from New York City, who is passionate about environmental protection, travel, and technology. She was the first girl in science to speak at the First International Day of Women and Girls in Science in 2016, and she is a spokesperson for the Value Veda-teachers campaign.

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