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Why scaling up sustainable urban growth is critical for the planet

30 Nov

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

In 2010, we quietly crossed a global threshold: The majority of the world went from living in rural areas to living in cities. As with foreign direct investment flows and the rise of atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations, this shift is a reminder that we live among imperceptible but significant megatrends.

By 2050, it is estimated that 70 percent of all people will live in cities, and the infrastructure needs to accommodate them and sustain this growth are massive, requiring a delicate balance of social, environmental, and economic considerations. As we have seen, urbanization can take multiple paths — sometimes resulting in cities that thrive, and other times creating cities with multiple tiers of poverty and disparity.

These trends make the case for sustainable urban growth appealing: We need to invest in sustainable infrastructure now because the lead times are long, the capital expenses high, and the systems that enable a lower per capita social and environmental footprint today will have exponential savings tomorrow. While the logic is sound, the growth of sustainable infrastructure has not kept pace with the need.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a chance to speak with several individuals in the private sector who are at the forefront of infrastructure development and who have shared their views on the challenges that business faces and what needs to change to make sustainable urban growth attainable.

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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Smart growth

 

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