Cities generate over 80 per cent of gross domestic product in many countries in Asia and the Pacific and are engines of economic growth that have lifted millions from poverty. This economic growth is accelerating rural to urban migration. Asia’s cities will become home to another 1.1 billion people in the next two decades as the poor continue to be drawn to better opportunities. Today, approximatly 700 million people live in urban slum.
Many cities are already struggling with environmental degradation, traffic congestion, inadequate urban infrastructure, and a lack of basic services, such as water supply, sanitation, and waste management. Environmental footprints of cities are quite alarming and can threaten the natural resources required to sustain the economic development and poverty alleviation rates. Maintaining economic growth, while creating sustainable livable cities for all, is the biggest urban challenge facing Asia and the Pacific today.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Cities
UN Environment assists member states and stakeholders to achieve relevant SDGs on cities including SDG 11 (sustainable cities and human settlements) with specific focus on access to housing and basic services, sustainable transport system, sustainable urbanization, access to public spaces, sustainable buildings, per capita environmental impact of cities, and policies towards climate change, resource efficiency and disaster risk reduction
The main areas for the current work on sustainable cities are:
1) Sustainable consumption and production roadmap for cities covering all the sectors
2) Upstream interventions through policy, technology and financing to reduce and manage pollution and waste
UN Environment is promoting sustainable consumption and production practices across Asia and the Pacic to address inefficient resource-use patterns, and cities are the centerpiece where such issues need to be addressed. Since 80 per cent of the GDP come from its urban areas, the quality and efficiency of Asian and Pacific cities will determine the region’s long-term productivity and overall stability. However, inefficiencies, such as unmet demand for urban services (water, energy, and transport), and huge financing requirements hamper economic growth and impede inclusive development, trapping the poor in slums. City pollution—air pollution and ineffiective wastewater treatment and solid waste management—remains a constant problem. Asia Pacific cities contributes enormously towards the emission of greenhouse gases. They are also highly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, including ooding, landslides, heat waves, and drought. These urban challenges have very significant impacts on the national economies
Partnerships among governments, private sector and other civil society groups can help to achieve resource efficient and environmentally sound production patterns, sustainable lifestyles, circular economy and spur new businesses with additional jobs focusing on green technologies and environmental services. Private sector participation through various mechanisms such as public-private-partnerships will help to improve the level of investments and efficiency of urban environmental management.