The theme of Earth Day 2014 (it is celebrated every year on 22nd April all over the world) is Green Cities. It stresses the importance of a green city for our sustainable living. It actually appeals global fraternity to turn all their abodes into green including
- All cities established so far
- All fast expanding towns
- All cities to be built in future
- Top 5 ideas to celebrate Earth Day
- Pakistanis are observing just another Earth Day
- Out of 180 million, just 1800 Pakistanis observed Earth Day 2013
- Let’s celebrate Earth Day 2013 like a Gangnam style
Western world is quite familiar with the idea of a green city. In developing and least developed world it is still a vague idea. Here people don’t have much awareness about green living. They have several other problems to first solve for their very survival. These problems range from poverty alleviation to maintaining of law and order.
That is why green ideas of collective nature do not have greater appeal in poor nations. People of poor countries don’t clearly know that poverty is inversely related with sustainability. That means higher the sustainability, lower the poverty level. They need to be made aware of this fact. Initially their leadership should be made aware of the importance of an environment friendly city for the sustainability of their future.
What is a green city?
There are 21 concrete parameters to build a green city anew or convert the one already established into a green abode.
1. A public park in each residential area
Every citizen has the basic right to have recreational facility. An ideal recreational spot is public park. It is a public good. It is shared by all community members. There is no gender, class or age bar to enjoy this facility. People of all ages, all income groups and genders can visit a park. They inhale fresh air there. They see greenery and improve their eyesight. They move around and stay fit. It is the basic parameter to build a green city. People should have ample space in a park to move, run, play and enjoy. So a public park in each residential area is must for a green city.
2. Factories must be away from the residential areas
This is a problem of almost all big cities of third world countries. There industries either operate in residential areas or expanding settlements get near to factories. In both the cases people have to suffer. They have to suffer from emissions and effluent of factories. In master plan of a city, industrial areas must be designed far away from residential areas. So much so in case residential area expands even then it can’t get near to any cluster of factories.
3. Bus terminals should be away from the city but not far away
If a bus terminal operates inside the city it creates traffic jams. It creates vehicular emissions. It causes noise pollution because of constant hoot of huge vehicles. That is why bus terminal should be away from the city but not far away. If it is far away people have to cover long distances to reach there. More fuel will be burnt for long distance and air pollution will rise. So a bus terminal should be away from residential area but not out of the city.
4. Modern public transport system
In big cities of poor countries having a car has almost become a necessity. They don’t have sound public transport system. That is why one can’t survive without a car. Poorest have to survive with faulty public transport system. This situation has already caused an astronomical rise in number of cars there. Now traffic jams are common. Vehicular emission has risen steeply. Fuel prices have shot up because of huge demand. So your city must have an efficient public transport system to avoid such mess.
5. No-car zone in trade hub of the city
Main problem of vehicular emissions arises in the commercial centre of a city. Corporate workers mostly travel in personal transport and park their cars near to their offices. As a result more space for car parking is occupied. Lesser space remains for plying of vehicles. As a result traffic jams are obvious. Here again vehicular emission rises and air pollution level worsens. So, a commercial hub of the city should be a car-free zone to avoid all types of mess. This should be part of the plan of a city to make it green.
6. Strict building control laws
A green building means a building fully congenial for the environment. It should have efficient energy consumption system. It should have spacious car parking area. It must not be congested inside. In short it must follow all environmental parameters in its construction. A green city must have stringent building control laws to stop unsustainable construction.
7. Ample space to walk
A green city must have ample space for walking. Not for morning walk but the space between two units of homes, offices or factories should be broader. It will avoid congestion and offer space for people to move comfortably. No hustle and bustle. No panic. This is the hallmark of green living.
8. Separate Lane for bikers
In poor regions of the world it may be an overambitious idea. But in developed world this rule is already being followed. Bike culture can’t be promoted without supporting bikers. They want their safety on roads. They can’t keep pace with fast-moving vehicular traffic. So they must be given separate lane on busy roads for their safety.
9. Effective garbage collection system
Garbage collection system is either public or private in the whole world. In less developed regions civic agencies directly do this work with their sanitary staff. In developed countries it is mostly privatized. Communities and governments run it jointly on partnership basis. Regardless of its nature a garbage collection system should be efficient and fool-proof to make a city greener. Leniency and poor performance means littering in streets. If a street is littered with garbage, it can never be a street of a green city.
10. Fully operative state-of-the-art landfill site
Solid waste management system has two phases. First one is collection system. Second one is disposal mechanism. Once the garbage is collected it must be disposed off in a sustainable way. The garbage must not fly back to places where from it was collected. It must not be littered around while being transported somewhere. It must be dumped into a designated landfill site. It is actually a deep ditch scientifically made to put tons of garbage into it without affecting the soil features. A green city must have a landfill site fully operative all the times to keep the city clean. Otherwise garbage will litter and create mess.
11. Civic wastewater treatment plant
Releasing civic wastewater directly into a water body is equally harmful. Agreed that it is not as harmful as the industrial effluent but it must be reused. In this way we can save our water resources. A green city should have a mega plant to treat civic wastewater and reuse it for non-drinking purposes. If it is treated with modern technology it can be used even for drinking purpose.
12. Beach cleaning authority
Beaches are for public. So public must keep them clean. People can be appealed to keep their beaches clean. But they can’t be forced to do that. So a beach cleaning authority is must for a green city if it is near the coast. It can be a civic agency of the coastal area with additional job to keep the beach area clean.
13. Green communities and leadership
The beauty of every city is people living in it. They are collectively called a community. It must have environmental awareness. It must have environmental activism. So that it can adopt sustainable living. It can elect its representatives on the basis of their environment friendliness. Eventually a green leadership will emerge from them. They collective will do robustly for sustainability in every field. It means green city generates green leadership for the sustainable future of a nation.
14. Green civil society
Every city has an aware class of people. They raise voice against injustices. They are a vocal part of the society. They can’t stay silent if a collective injustice is done. So a civil society of a green city must have green awareness on all issues. In this way it can pressurize policy makers to frame sustainable policies for them and for their coming generations.
15. Slaughter house must be away from the green city
It is very common in poor countries. Slaughter houses don’t follow health and hygiene rules. They even operate within the city. Poor law enforcement system of such countries is a blessing for them. No one stops them. If they are arrested they are released after a minor penalty. So a green city must have stringent laws to make slaughter-house operate outside the city.
16. Environmental clearance of every new project
Environmental impact assessment (EIA) of a new project is rarely done in big cities of most of the poor countries. So a country must develop strict green laws to bind each development project do EIA before its implementation. Otherwise authorities should have legal powers to stop construction of projects running without EIA.
17. Recycling and composting system
Entire garbage of a city can’t be thrown into a landfill site. If it is done it can’t be called a sustainable practice. The garbage must be segregated into three categories of:
- Recyclable garbage
- Reusable garbage and
Rubbish is straightaway thrown into the landfill site and rest is recycled and reused. But it can’t be done without a system. A green city must have a recycling and composting system to reuse its garbage for a sustainable living.
18. Efficient response system for environmental mishaps
In case of an environmental mishap a green city must have an emergency response system. Famous incidents of oil spill in seas and oceans are glaring examples of environmental disasters. If a city fails to respond to these mishaps its citizens have to face the adverse effects of such incidents.
19. Sustainable city plan
A green city always has a sustainable plan. It is a plan that has capacity to adjust the infrastructure in case of further expansion of homes, offices, roads and other constructions. A sustainable plan clearly defines to what extent a city can be expanded and where its expansion must be stopped.
20. Futuristic energy policy
Futuristic energy policy means a policy capable of adjusting the rapid changes in energy sector. A few years ago solar energy was the most viable option as an alternate energy. Now wind energy is termed as an ideal option for sustainable consumption of energy. Maybe in near future some other forms of energy will be considered as the best option. So the energy policy of a green city should be futuristic in nature.
Lifeblood of a green city is its social activities. They must be green in nature. In every type of such activities there must not be any wastage of resources. No harm to environment. For this sustainable culture needs to be promoted with the help of green communities. Laws will work lesser here. Volunteerism has the bigger role for promoting and continuing green activities.
Who has to build a green city?
It is the duty of all of us to convert our cities into green ones. It is likely that a few or most of the above walls are already built around many cities. In poor regions maybe one or two walls from the above list were built. In any of the case we have to build a green city together. Here WE means:
- Individuals including you and me to demand our government build green cities
- Civic authorities who manage the cities under their jurisdictions
- Government that governs and finances the cities and towns of each country
- Private sector that operates in cities and it has to abide by green laws in its every activity
- Civil society that has to build pressure on government to keep building green cities
- Media to point out where environmental violations are being made and who to stop them
- Global fraternity to interact with each other and exchange views on how to expedite the idea of green city
Let’s help each other
Don’t worry. We don’t have to stand up right now to help each other. Just tell us in which city of a country do you live and how many concrete walls from the above list are already built around it. Also suggest how the remaining walls can be built and who has to initiate the action.
We are just eagerly waiting to hear from you.