Urban Environmental Relationships: Measures to Create Sustainable Urban Areas

Ladule Lako LoSarah

Worldwide, fifty percent of the population lives in urbanized areas. This figure is eighty percent in the United States and the United Nations predicts that this figure will increase to sixty percent worldwide by the year 2020 (UN, 1998).  With this amount of humans densely clustered together, it is evident that there must be changes in urban areas towards environmental sustainability.

What is the problem? (Reading by Hardy, Environmental Problems in an Urbanizing World)

Urban areas across the world are facing declining environmental conditions that are having adverse results on human health and the natural environments surrounding the city.  Cities in the developed nations are experiencing different problems tha in the It is apparent that at the current growth rate, cities fail to be ecologically sustainable.
a) Air pollution Air pollution covering downtown Los Angeles

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            Smog cloaking the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

b) Water pollution

The Los Angeles River

c) Land use and habitat loss

e) resources/energy consumption

f) Large amounts of waste products

How are municipal governments addressing these problems? (Handout on Portland Office of Sustainable Development)

Many urban planners and government officials are beginning to realize that cities have a large impact on the natural environment and are implementing new strategies, policies, and solutions to reduce the strain on the natural environment.  These officials and planners are focusing on innovative, sustainable strategies for transportation, buildings, land use, waste disposal and municipal policy to diminish pollution and environmental decay.  Portland, Oregon is the United States’ premier green city, implementing revolutionary tactics for a sustainable future.

  • Transport initiatives to reduce reliance on the automobile including making neighborhoods more accessible to other areas and extensive mass transit.

  • Citywide recycling and composting projects along with overall waste reduction
  • Urban growth boundary to reduce low-density sprawl growth
  • Buying the city’s energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar power
  • Heavy regulation of the city’s industries

A panoramic view of Portland, Oregon

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last updated 5/13/06