There are not many who truly understand the importance of sustainability in cities and how to combat the challenges of growth in the environment. Not long ago every country was stuck in a continuous debate about development and environment, single intention, and multiple perspectives.
One key driving force for ecological awareness among the younger generations is the examples set up by their elders. This generation of professionals, entrepreneurs, and businesses are working tactfully at their corporations, institutions, universities, and design studios to take up the cause of sustainability and fight against the ever-rising tide of pollution on the planet. As they create and nurture strategies to maintain a balance between city expansion and the protection of the natural environment, new cultural and professional movements have sprung up in the cities to not just govern but also to inspire as a great many people see the light of ‘going green’.
Below is a list of cities that have shown their global leadership in adopting the path of sustainable development.
Denmark has been campaigning on and off for a decade now for cleaner transportation in cities and has so far come up with an elegant solution for all the steering – public transport and bicycles. Cycling has been a history in the Nordic countries and therefore, looks forward to the necessary infrastructure to support it. The government provides ample amounts of funds to transport companies for better emission controls and public bike-hire programs. In 2005, the urban mobility plan for Copenhagen called Cityringen was launched and is underway to transform Copenhagen into a thriving bicycle city by 2017. By 2030, Copenhagen will ensure an extensive network of bicycle lanes.
The other measures to minimize energy use and carbon emissions are the mandatory requirement of at least 10 percent share of renewable energy in the national electricity generation mix; a carbon dioxide emission trading scheme and a congestion pricing system to reduce air pollution and traffic in the city.
For more than a few decades now, Amsterdam has enjoyed a good share of the title of being the forward-thinking city when it comes to sustainability. They are one of the first municipalities in the world to have embraced the mode of Zero Waste wherein 100 percent of household waste can be contributed to recycling. For more than a decade, Amsterdam has become one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world with public education programs that encourage cycling, a highly developed network of bike paths, and education programs in elementary schools. Continuous efforts have been made to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emission in buildings with mandatory energy efficiency certification for all buildings. The city follows the ‘Flow’ concept where the journey will have to be as comfortable and cultural as the destination.
Just like Denmark, Sweden is another country that has pioneered in eco-friendly transportation by reclaiming the part of urban mobility for the bicycle. Stockholm has developed its own cycleway and city planning policies to promote cycling culture in the regions, resulting in a 10 percent market share in 2000. In 2010, the city shared the vision of becoming one of the world’s best cycling cities and solved the issue of physical, psychological, and geographical boundaries of commuting in the cities through bikes.
Stockholm has an audacious commitment to environmental sustainability, with a target of Zero Emission by 2050. This includes making a fourfold cut in carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. In 2013, the regional government enforced a carbon tax on the concentration of greenhouse gases. Today 40 percent of Stockholm waste is recycled.
This city has one of the best bike sharing programs around the world. Citizens now have access to 625 stations, 6850 bikes and 12 000 docking points. A pilot program also includes 300 electronics bikes with pedal assist technology and 10 smart charging stations.
The practice of sustainable activities and the application of the concept of zero waste proves that the situation of the atmosphere is not doomed, though it seems to be. Which in turn will bring about a noticeable improvement in the quality of human life in even the most crowded regions on our planet.