Rethinking Sustainable

Sustainable urbanization has gained significant attention in debates, research, and policy agendas in recent years. This focus is driven by various factors that differ across countries and regions. A key reason is the increasing recognition of the impacts of rapid urbanization in countries like China, India, and many other low- and middle-income nations with historically low levels of urbanization.

Much of this urbanization is following unsustainable, resource-intensive models seen in high-income countries. This trend is amplified by global mobility, the international reach of architectural and urban planning consultancies, construction firms, and the influence of media and information and communications technologies.

Additionally, the challenges posed to urban areas by climate and environmental changes are now more widely recognized. The urgency to take action is increasingly acknowledged, even in poorer cities and towns. This is a notable shift from a few years ago when such issues were often ignored because they were perceived as distant future concerns compared to the immediate need for scarce resources.

Today, the realities of fluctuating and unpredictable weather patterns, the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, and the extensive loss of life and economic and environmental damage they cause are changing perceptions. Elected urban representatives, officials, and residents alike are becoming more aware of the need for sustainable urbanization to address these pressing challenges.

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