Green Cities

Asia’s Green City Challenge

Asia’s cities have been the drivers of the economy and have lifted millions out of poverty. However, the environmental consequences of this rapid development are apparent, and the citizens of Asia’s urban areas are increasingly insistent that something should be done. And there is an investment deficit in Asian cities’ infrastructure spending, mostly in environmental infrastructure, of some $100 billion per annum.

Asian cities can be more environmentally friendly. The resources are there to achieve this. Up to 80% of gross domestic product today comes from urban areas in Asia, and its megacities are nation-sized in population and economic product. New cities, such as the innovative “eco-towns” in Japan and “eco-cities” in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), have begun to put into action a sustainable urban development model.

Existing cities need to change as they grow. In particular, to maximize livability and minimize energy use and environmental impact, Asian cities need to align the planning and provision of quality, high-capacity public transport with the provision of well-serviced high density, mixed-use development. The bus rapid transit system in Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China, for example, is integrated with the city’s metro system and other nonmotorized means of transport. It is also integrated with the planning and zoning of surrounding areas to foster a dense, pedestrian-friendly environment which allows easy access to services and employment.

The challenge throughout the region is to provide the green infrastructure needed to maintain growth while cleaning up the environment. Anyone who has been in traffic jams in Bangkok, Beijing, Jakarta, Manila, or Mumbai will know that a new approach is needed.


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