The webinar on “Development with green-thumbs : The balance between urbanization and environment” was an enlightening session highlighting the importance of a green approach towards urbanization. The session provided information about the current growth and situation of urban areas and what it would look like in 2050. The speaker shared certain efforts taken in her community to minimize the negative impact of urbanization on the environment. The event also was an inspiring and encouraging session for the youths to take action now, bring solutions and work towards achieving sustainable cities for a better life for the present as well as the future generations.
The webinar was held on Saturday 7th November, 2020 at 11:00 am GMT. Ms. Mariama Djambony Badji from Senegal (West Africa) was the speaker of the session. The moderators of the event were- Ms. Nonjabulo Gumede from South Africa and Mr. Tobit Abao from the Philippines. The session was broadcasted live on the Facebook handle of PeaceX. Registration was open to all and free of cost. Around 16 people registered for the webinar and the webinar video record has received around 7091 views so far.
ABOUT THE TOPIC
The rapid growth in global cities indicates that by 2050 around two-third of the global population will be living in cities and urban areas. With a growing population, the demand for more open spaces is increasing. Also, the changing climate causes rise in sea-level which leads to flooding of low-lying cities. This is creating a difficulty in maintaining a harmony between the human settlement and the domain of nature. The trend of urbanization also poses a great threat to the environment. If planned unsystematically then urbanization can bring havoc in people’s lives as well as to the environment. But if planned properly, then urbanization can be spelled in nature’s favor. If there is a better interaction between the firms, industries and the population , it can lead to economic development. But with an increasing population the number of job and employment opportunities are declining and many people are unemployed and poor. This gave rise to city expansion and increased slum population. Urban areas also consume tremendous power energy and this can lead to resource inefficiency. So, there is a need for better urban planning. Urbanization is a process towards development so nations need to start their city building for a prosperous and better lifestyle but the efforts must be taken while minimizing the negative impacts of urbanization on the environment and the living beings.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Ms. Mariama Djambony Badji is a civil engineer, volunteer, and youth leader from Senegal. She is the co-founder and CEO of DNA SARL, which is a construction company that offers living environments using the available local and natural materials. She is concerned about the environment and works for its protection. Her works involve the construction of safe, comfortable and eco-friendly housing. In 2018, she supervised the construction of a brand-new building made entirely with earth bricks at the Polytechnic School of Dakar (Senegal).
ABOUT THE DISCUSSION
The webinar began straight with the moderators asking questions to the speaker. Live chat was made available and the participants were allowed to put up their queries in the comment section of the live session for a better engagement and better understanding. There were many questions asked by both the moderators. Following are some of the questions asked during the webinar:
1. What is your vision of green urbanization? What made it green and how can we help achieve it?
Green refers to the environment and we cannot talk about urbanization without talking about the environment. Urbanization is a world process involving development of cities with the increased population growth. Such a process has a tremendous impact and it is the environment that suffers the consequences. I think that green urbanization is a pledge to a better future for all . Sustainable and green urbanization is a project and a progress that challenges everyone including the political leaders, local actors and the residents. There is a need for renewing policies to have functional cities, to build sustainable houses using local people and the local resources. In this way a balanced economy can also be achieved.
2. Imagine it's the year 2050. What do you think urbanization looks like?
Already many people are living in cities currently. So it is estimated that two-third of the global population are expected to be living in urban areas by 2050. Today the world is noisy and congested. Cities can undergo changes and move towards a way more gentler, more greenery and free mobility. Future cities can be sustainable and resource efficient. Talking about my vision, I really want new buildings to be made from the recycled materials of the old ones. A quiet life, wellness and health should be the aim of tomorrow's cities. To achieve this, there is a need for addressing challenges such as meeting the needs of the growing population in cities, better housing, better transportation, energy system, infrastructural development, employment and better basic services like education and healthcare.
3. There are some scholars that argued that the post-Covid world would be less urban and less global. Do you agree with this observation? How will the current pandemic affect the urbanization momentum?
Today the Covid pandemic has revealed the limits of urbanization. Crowded places are an important feature of the cities. But due to the pandemic people have realized the dangers and the chances of health risk in crowded places. So people who have the ability to exit the city will do so and others will try avoiding contact and crowded areas. I agree that the pandemic might slow down the urbanization of cities because nowadays people will prefer moving away to already rural areas to enjoy open spaces and nature which the cities no no longer allow. However, a world that is less urban will also be less prosperous and less fulfilling and so there is a need for a proper preparation for sustainable urban development in a Post-Covid situation.
4. Is there any country which has a really great model of city development that you are inspired by?
I really like the city development of Singapore because they are using recycled material and also while making decisions they think about the well-being, the comfort level and life of people and I think that is the most important thing when building a city or a urban area because people and environment affect each other and we need to consider the impact of human activity on environment and how environment in turn will affect us.
TWO KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE DISCUSSION
Urbanization is a process of development. Cities are growing at a tremendous rate while the planet's resources are fast depleting. Poor management of urbanization can be a huge challenge to sustainable development. The impact of such a management has consequences on the environment, climate and to the living beings. Occurrences of natural disasters have become common in the urban areas. The increasing population growth demands for more resources and creates socio-economic disparities.
In today’s world the impact of urbanization is mostly negative but if a nation wants to be developed , it needs to start building cities for a better quality of life. Life will be fulfilling and prospering if the number of urban areas increases. There is an urgent need to find solutions to achieve economic and socially equitable growth without harming the environment. People need strong commitment for achieving this, the youth of today’s generation must start finding ways to turn the negative impacts of urbanization to a positive one.
SDGs THAT THE WEBINAR COVERED:
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.