MR: greening cities not enough to ensure sustainable communities
Greening cities, the theme of this year’s Earth Day, is a noble objective but not enough to ensure sustainable communities, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
Only by stabilising population numbers in cities can sustainability hope to be achieved, says SPA’s national president, Ms Jenny Goldie.
“The anticipated population growth in cities over the next 25 years will demand huge investments in energy, water, materials, waste, food distribution, and transportation, as the Earth Day Network acknowledges,” says Ms Goldie. “Furthermore, the infrastructure for this will commandeer more and more scarce public and private open space. ‘Green-ness’ is hard to achieve with ever-diminishing open space.
“It will be difficult enough, however, for industrialised countries like Australia to afford the necessary infrastructure and impossible for many poorer countries.
“While urbanisation is not inherently a bad thing, rapid urbanisation brings with it political, social, economic and environmental problems, particularly in poorer countries,” says Ms Goldie. “A lot of that is associated with the inability of the city government to afford the infrastructure that is needed to keep up with population growth.
Ms Goldie says some greening, such as planting more trees and gardens, is not expensive and can be achieved.
“Likewise, planning cities where people can more readily walk or cycle is achievable. On the other hand, the infrastructure associated with providing energy, water, food and disposing of wastes for an ever-growing population can be hugely expensive.
“Energy constraints in the future will make it necessary for people to live much closer to their food supplies and where nutrients can be recycled. Somehow, the massive migration from country to city has to be stalled and reversed by investing in rural areas,” says Ms Goldie.
“Investment in family planning, however, is even more important than investment in infrastructure if we are not to have a ‘planet of slums’[i].”Further information: Jenny Goldie 0401 921 453
[i] Planet of Slums by Mike Davis, (2006) 240pp, Verso