Features of good cities By Mayowa Afolabi

Mayowa Afolabi

“Sustainable planning and a planned city are fundamental to achieving the all other characteristics of a good city.”

“I’d add that ‘Stupid Cities’ measure success by quantitative goals: budget growth, the rise of new industries, the number of new homes built. Smart Cities also measure citizen satisfaction and develop new policies to increase it,” – Emily Silverman

To our teeming and special readers, would you not rather desire good and sustainable cities?

I guess you just took a deep breath, trying to ruminate on this quintessential question and figure out the befitting answer. Now, to satisfy your curiosity and help in reaching a judgment, there is a need to know the features of a good city.

What makes a city good?

Who are the stakeholders in beautifying cities?

What can individuals or corporate organizations contribute to the evolving of a certified good city?

World urban campaign is a global coalition of public, private and civil society partners united by the common desire to advocate on the positive role of cities around the world, and to promote sustainable urbanization policies, strategies and practices.

Coordinated by the UN-HABITAT – the United Nations agency for human settlements, the World Urban Campaign is a new tool in the quest of attainment of good cities. It seeks to ensure that the world stays alert to the problems of rapid urbanization and all its ramifications, especially in the developing countries. The campaign is also intended to promote learning from one another and encourage sustainable development in urban places.

Thus, a good city as described by the World Urban Campaign can be said to be:

A Resilient City

Cities and communities are empowered to plan for and effectively manage adversity, as it is fundamental to the urban agenda. Urbanization and development can only be sustainable if it is adaptable to future demands and risks, and is resilient to the consequences of climate change or natural disasters.

A Green City

Build environmentally sound and carbon efficient cities. Buildings alone account for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, and the way we plan and design our cities now will have significant implications for how resilient, resource efficient and environmentally sound they are in the future. A green city means promoting sustainable development through a carbon efficient built environment.

The island-state of Singapore is famous for being one of Asia’s major financial hubs and one of the world’s busiest ports. A lesser known fact is that Singapore, since the 1960s, has pioneered the notion of ecological development. Compared to most cities in the region, Singapore stands out as being able to balance its urban development whilst trying to maintain a healthy number of parks – a part of the “Green strategy” which is attracting business and investors.

The Singapore Green Plan is Singapore’s environmental blueprint for the future. Its objective is to ensure that Singapore, through sound environmental management, achieves economic development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations. Attaining to a green city therefore, each country need come up with a ‘Green

Plan’ blueprint and develop the political will to pursue and enforce it.

A Safe and Healthy City

Good cities are safe and healthy. Cities hold the answers to challenges posed by urbanization, which are in turn inextricably linked to issues of and agendas concerning the economy, climate change, resource consumption, food security and more. Cities need to be highly livable environments in order to capitalize on their tremendous potential as the drivers of sustainable solutions to our current and future challenges.

Health is determined by many factors outside the biomedical domain, even with the restricted definition of health as the absence of disease. This point is reinforced when the definition is expanded to the WHO vision of health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing – not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

To build a healthy city is to establish people’s multi-consciousness of health and a new public health policy of ecological balance (effects of environment on health) and social justice (effects of poverty on health), by integrating the professional cross-filed groups, promoting community participation, health capacity building, and self-empowerment of inhabitants.

An Inclusive City

Build socially inclusive, accessible, pro-poor, equitable and gender-sensitive cities. Socially equitable development is one of the three pillars of sustainability, and is vital to creating a shared, sustainable urban future. The challenges posed by the pace and scale of contemporary urbanization require every city to invest in infrastructure, development and political processes that promote inclusivity, and a pro-poor, gender sensitive agenda. An inclusive city promotes equitable rights to the city and therefore allows all citizens to partake of the urban advantage.

A Planned City

As long as cities offer better opportunities for livelihoods, rural-urban migration cannot be stopped. Therefore, plan the cities of tomorrow for sustainable decision-making processes.

Sustainable urbanization and development requires planning processes and political frameworks that harness the city’s assets and potential. Sustainable planning entails participatory decision making processes and particular attention to development that balances social, environmental and economic needs. Of equal importance, sustainable planning and a planned city are fundamental to achieving all the other characteristics of a good city.

A Productive City

Good cities are efficient and better places to ensure decent work. Economically equitable development is also one of the three pillars of sustainability, and a requisite component of any healthy, livable and sustainable city. Pursuing a sustainable development agenda means planning cities that promote and foster livelihoods for all citizens through economic opportunities.

“Develop policies that ensure the interests of the youths are put into consideration. It’s quite unfortunate that our cities in most parts of Africa have neglected this aspect in its development policy”, opined Daniel Onyango

In conclusion, government has the non-transferable duty of enacting and implementing policies towards achieving these goals, no doubt. But corporate organizations and individuals must align with the policies in order to achieve good cities for all. Both public-private and private-private partnerships are also critical.


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