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Building cities in the shade of Environment: 5 success stories

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Recently, 31st October was celebrated as the World Cities Day by United Nations. Back when the observance of the day started the idea behind keeping the day was in order to address the challenge of urbanization and to come up with ways to promote sustainable development. But over the years rapid urbanization and there by destruction of ecosystems along with the lack of implementation of sustainable development on ground have led to the cities being a place with polluted air, soaring temperatures, flooding and other disasters being more prevalent as compared to countryside. All this along with the high number of populations have forced UN this year to observe the day under the theme of “Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience”.

The massive increase in number of cities primarily designed with grey structures (not keeping in mind about the negative effective they could have on the ecosystem or biodiversity) have led to rise of phenomenon like Urban Heat Island Effect (read more from %20when,heat%2Drelated%20illness%20and%20mortality) and increased frequency of natural disasters across the globe. Thus, it is becoming more and more important to look for more eco restoration methods that could be implemented in cities to reduce climate action. So today we will be looking into 5 major success stories of cities being designed assisting eco restoration from across the world.

- ABC water program in Singapore: Launched in 2016, the ABC (Active Beautiful Clean) waters program was used to restore concrete canals into a soft river edge and floods using techniques like soil bio engineering, riparian buffers, green roof tanks, canal improvement, rain garden etc across the cities. These measures have been implemented along with bringing a clear shift in the way in which water bodies have been perceived by the communities- as before communities were kept away from them to preserve the aesthetics and that is all the utility, they have seen of water bodies, whereas now there is awareness among the community in how and why communities should take ownership in restoring and retaining these waterbodies and ecosystems.

“In the past, we protected our water resources by keeping people away from them; now, we will bring people closer to water so that they will enjoy and cherish it more… By linking up our water bodies and waterways, we will create new community spaces that are clean, pleasant, and bustling with life and activities. We will integrate our water bodies with our parks and green spaces and turn Singapore into a city of gardens and waters.”- Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the launch of ABC Waters Master Plan in 2007 (Source: Tan Nguan Sen, n.d)

Fig: Various Projects Implemented under ABC Singapore (Source: Tan Nguan Sen, n.d)

- Water Sensitive Urban Development, Australia: This is a holistic project that is run in Australia wherein the buildings are mandated by law to be designed in such a manner that it is eco- friendly in nature. In addition to the mandate on building designs the program also looks on other areas like reducing storm water flows, increasing soil moisture and urban greening in order to improve the bio diversity and minimize the effect of development on environment.