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مِی فام - Cities and Sustainability
 
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مدیر وبلاگ : Arghavan Akbarieh
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شنبه هشتم فروردین 1394 :: نویسنده : Arghavan Akbarieh

The following slides are my answers to the questions that were intended as the SOP for the JEMES Master’s course.


After my brother proofread them for me, he asked me to publish it online so others can use this information. Now that I've got admission to the JEMES course, I decided to uploaded it here.


I hope you find this content useful.


Please bear in mind that copying this content and using it in your letters would be considered as plagiarism and will harm your application and reputation.


1. What is your definition of a sustainable city?


At the age of anthropocene, our planet and its inhabitants are under peril. Sustainability is a method to fortify against the risks of negative externalities, in particular human-induced climate change. United Nations population division estimated that currently half of the world live in urban settings. Therefore, cities are also destined to become sustainable.

Firstly, sustainable city is a green city that integrates natural landscape into the design and cuts down its ecological footprint. Secondly, sustainable city is resilient. Global warming foreshadows the increased frequency of catastrophes. Cities must be prepared for these shocks.

A sustainable city also benefits from an efficient energy system with low carbon emission; an efficient transportation system with small traffic congestion, lower waiting time, lower pollution and better public transportation facilities. Lastly, Infrastructures too must be efficient which means Water supply, sewerage and waste management must be effectively planned according to principles.


2.What are the greatest environmental problems facing cities?


The CO2 amount in the atmosphere is the highest ever recorded that leads us to an unknown climate zone in the human history. It can be said that, the biggest problem humanity has ever faced is “Global Warming” which breeds other environmental evils affecting cities.

To name but a few, changing patterns of precipitation results in increased frequency of draughts, floods and other cataclysms imposing heavy death and economic toll and also damaging city infrastructures. Air and water pollution jeopardizes citizens’ health and their productivity. Land degradation endangers crops and portends food insecurity that is considered one of the inducements of political upheavals in the history.

Yet, since most of the world’s megacities are along the coasts, the major threat looming over them is the sea level rising that is also a threat for global economy.

Therefore, cities must take smart choices by modelling and understanding risks, and avoiding them.


3. What is your definition of the “vulnerability” of cities?


Vulnerability is the extent to which given threat will yield negative impacts. When a city is unsustainable, it becomes vulnerable to shocks, be it cyclones, draughts, earthquakes or etc. One of the pillars of a sustainable city is preparedness for the known but unpredicted shocks that threat lives, livelihood and human economy.

The Absence of forward thinking is also another reason for vulnerability in cities. Cities are crowd’s asylum, but insufficient attention to the environmental problems and well-being of citizens, increases the vulnerability and causes cities to be hazards for their own population. For instance, air pollution is a rampant dilemma of megacities and it causes people illnesses or disabilities and highly decreases community’s productivity.

Thus, vulnerability can be and must be controlled in the cities. Whether in the form of preparation for shocks or for citizens’ demands and conditions.


4.What is most important in your opinion, climate change mitigation or climate change adaptation or do you find both equally important? Justify your opinion.


Modern world has encountered this question: whether to mitigate climate change and reduce human impacts on climate system, or to adapt and learn to live with climate related events as best as possible.

Climate will continue to change for centuries to come because of the carbon trapped in the oceans and atmosphere. Given this fact, the question emerges here is that for how long or how much can we adapt to the changing patterns of climate? If we do not head off our carbon footprint before the midcentury, we will never be able to keep up with thermal inequilibrium hazards, even if we are very successful at adaptation.

Mitigation and adaptation are closely linked, but there is a limit that we can adapt without extenuating activities that exacerbate climate change. Therefore, in long term, mitigation must be prioritized since if we act according the mitigation methods, we will consequently adjust.


5. How can a city increase its resilience?


Even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases today, we will live through decades of rising average temperature. The oceans have not yet caught up with the temperature that lands have been warmed up to. But once they do, we should expect more climate change related jolts. This is why we need to enhance the resilience of our cities to enable them to absorb these ecological shocks and respond accordingly.

Resilience is not only about efficiency but also reliability. Serious attempts must be made to develop and implement resilience related strategies regarding to city’s topography. Hence, Disaster Readiness Programs and Response Plans must be prepared with care. These programs or plans must cover copious cases such as having an educated population, strict building codes, improved Infrastructures, food and water supply preparedness, pollution regulation, zoning, street planning and in some cases special defences such as the Netherland’s storm surge barrier.


6. Who do you consider the most important stakeholders when planning or designing the sustainable city?

Determining stakeholders and their degree of influence is central to devise successful strategies and participatory plans. But prior to this, areas of interests and key issues must be specified.  Without mapping the stakeholders of a sustainable city, there is no guarantee of the success of strategies adressing issues related to sustainable development.

In General, Stakeholders are considered those who are engaged in a project-directly or indirectly- or are influenced by it. Given this definition, every citizen is a stakeholder of sustainable city. However, because of the hardships of analysing massive population, it is wiser to develop stakeholder layers between people and the city. City councils, industry associations, NGO’s and academic institutes are among the most prominent stakeholders.

Worthy to note, Philadelphia’s mayor have created a new position in his cabinet, called the “Director of Sustainability”. Such positions can positively improves the role of stakeholders up to a new level.


7. Are cities vital to the future of sustainability? Justify your opinion.


By 2050, about two thirds of the world's population will dwell in urban environments. Therefore, while the world is striving to become more sustainable, cities as the accumulation of myriads of people are at the frontiers of these efforts.

Urban agglomerations are essential to the future of sustainability from two aspects. Firstly, cities have the power and ability to persuade sustainability and alter residents’ behaviors and patterns. When cities set strict regulations, people inevitably follow them. This interaction between the city and citizens leads to a sustainable society.

Secondly, city’s carbon and ecological footprints are huge because of their population. Authorities ought to adequately wipe out mentioned footprints and efficiently manage resources and energy consumption.

In conclusion, cities can be the sustainability meter of the world, since their progression on sustainability shows their devotion to this concept and that cities' choices have immense impacts on the  future of global community.


 





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برچسب ها : پایداری، شهرسازی،
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