Cities cover 1% of the Earth’s surface, are home to 55% of the world population, and generate about 80% of the global combined GDP. In spite of COVID-19, cities across the world are continuing to grow at unprecedented levels, particularly in emerging markets. It is expected that they will attract an additional 2 billion people by 2050.
On the flip side, and from an environmental standpoint, cities consume 78% of the world’s energy, and are responsible for 75% of the global GHGs. Furthermore, 70% of cities are already dealing with the effects of climate change, and nearly all of them are at risk.
From a social standpoint, inequity is rampant in urban environments. Currently, 1 billion citizens live in informal settings and this number is expected to double by 2030. Almost all of these settlements are in hazard-prone areas and, will be the first to bear the brunt of environmental risks, namely water and food scarcity, rising sea levels, and storm surges.
Additionally, cities infrastructure, basic services, and value chains are under stress and will add to their already significant negative sustainability footprint. Such challenges will need to be dealt with, and provision of goods and services will need to be expanded significantly and made available to these growing populations.
The investment required is immense, both in developed and emerging economies. But while the challenges are immense and unprecedented, it is too late to be a pessimist.
If cities are the cause of much distress, they can also be the solution. It is critical that we focus on the right side of the equation: Future Cities will need to rely on all stakeholders working together and leveraging technology if they are to become centres of opportunity, of innovation, and of economic growth while mitigating environmental risks. Needless to say, the foundation of Future Cities will need to celebrate diversity, inclusiveness, and equity for all.
Future Cities will also need to improve their credit worthiness if they are to attract much needed investment from both public and private sources that will allow them to grow in a sustainable and resilient fashion.
Join us, and the impressive panel of experts that we have gathered, on September 22 in Porto, as we discuss such pressing issues with a focus on three fundamental pillars: environment, social and technology.
This gathering is expected to be the first of many: future events will deep-dive into these three pillars and others that we will jointly identify. We will rotate such events to cities that want to be future proof and are willing to walk the sustainability path with us.
Be the change that you want to see in your city.