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The Importance of Sustainable Cities

Laila Salgado

As our world becomes increasingly urbanized, with over half of the global population residing in cities, predicted to reach 70% by 2050, the need for sustainable urban development has become more crucial than ever. The modern day city emits extreme environmental harm, with 70% of greenhouse gas emissions coming from cities, 90% city emissions coming from their buildings and transportation, and 66% of the world’s energy use coming from cities. Green cities aim to promote environmental justice and boost the overall quality of urban life, creating spaces that are resilient, inclusive, and ecologically responsible. This article explores the importance of moving towards green urban planning and the aspects that make a city sustainable.

Urban Planning and Green Infrastructure:

Urban planning and design play key roles in building sustainable cities. Compact and mixed-use urban layouts reduce the need for extensive transportation, promote walkability, and foster a sense of community. By integrating green spaces and prioritizing public transport, cities that implement green infrastructure aim to minimize their carbon footprint while improving the quality of life and mental health of their residents.

Renewable Energy:

Transitioning to renewable energy sources is a cornerstone of sustainable urban development. Cities are increasingly adopting solar, wind, and other clean energy solutions to power homes, businesses, and public infrastructure. A prime example of sustainable urban investment is solar farms, which not only spur renewable energy use but also boost the economy by creating new jobs with great wages. The U.S. added 110,000 net new clean energy jobs in 2018, exceeding the new jobs provided by fossil fuel industries by 3 to 1. By investing in smart grids, energy-efficient buildings, and decentralized energy systems, sustainable cities reduce reliance on fossil fuels, mitigating the impact of climate change.


Efficient and sustainable transportation systems are essential in reducing carbon emissions and alleviating congestion in urban areas. Sustainable cities promote the use of public transportation, cycling, and walking, complemented by electric and hybrid vehicles. Some initiatives that sustainable cities have implemented are electric trolleybuses, metro systems, underground railways, and maglev trains. Sustainable cities investing in smart traffic management systems and developing extensive public transit networks to reduce air pollution and enhance mobility.

Waste Management and Circular Economy:

Waste management is a pressing issue for urban areas, and sustainable cities prioritize the reduction, reuse, and recycling of waste. Implementing circular economy principles involves designing products with longevity in mind, reducing single-use items, and creating closed-loop systems for resource utilization. Sustainable waste management practices not only minimize environmental impact but also create economic opportunities through the recycling industry.

Green Building Practices:

The construction and maintenance of buildings play a significant role in the ecological footprint of a city. Sustainable cities prioritize green building practices, such as energy-efficient designs, use of sustainable materials, and integration of green roofs and walls. These initiatives enhance energy efficiency, reduce water consumption, and contribute to the overall well-being of city dwellers.

Inclusive and Equitable Communities:

Sustainability goes beyond environmental considerations; it encompasses social and economic dimensions as well. Sustainable cities strive to create inclusive and equitable communities, addressing issues of affordable housing, social justice, and accessibility. By fostering diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, sustainable cities aim to provide opportunities for all residents to thrive.


The shift towards sustainable cities is a global necessity, driven by the urgent need to address climate change and ensure a high quality of life for future generations. By adopting principles of urban planning, renewable energy, sustainable transportation, waste management, and green building practices, cities can foster happier, healthier, and greener environment


1. Susan Meyer. (2021, July 6). What is a sustainable city? 10 characteristics of green urban planning | The Zebra.; The Zebra.

2. Sustainable Cities. (n.d.).

3. United Nations. (2022). Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. United Nations Sustainable Development; United Nations.


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