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Sustainable Cities. Janet Loubser 9 July 2013. Human settlements and sustainability. Human settlements are significant drivers of environmental change, and therefore sustainable development.

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sustainable cities

Sustainable Cities

Janet Loubser

9 July 2013

human settlements and sustainability
Human settlements and sustainability
  • Human settlements are significant drivers of environmental change, and therefore sustainable development.
  • Cities in South Africa generate more than 90% of all economic activity and house over 70% of the total population (CSIR 2011).
  • Human settlements drive the depletion of renewable and non-renewable resources, the destruction of ecologically sensitive land and habitats, and the pollution of natural systems through the use of natural resources and the production of waste products.
  • The impact of human settlements on the environment increases as the population grows and human settlements expand.
south african cities
South African cities
  • Inefficient and dysfunctional
  • Urban sprawl
  • Spatial distortions
  • Unequal socially, economically and spatially
  • Although opportunity for greater sustainability also lies within human settlements due to greater efficiencies and the potential for innovation, especially in infrastructure, construction and education (Heese and Allan 2012; UNEP 2011).
cities and the natural environment
Cities and the natural environment
  • Relationship is complex and continually changing.
  • The natural environment provides the basic elements that human beings need to survive such as food, water and shelter. Most human settlements are therefore located in areas with abundant natural resources such as next to rivers, close to minerals or high potential agricultural land (SAEO, 2012).
  • Impact on the environment firstly by overuse or exploitation of resources and secondly through the production of waste materials and pollution.
  • This leads to a degradation of the very environment that human beings depend on.
linear metabolism
Linear metabolism

The relationship between cities and the environment can be described as a linear metabolism.

Source: Adapted from Eaton et al, 2007

circular metabolism
Circular metabolism

In order to prevent human actions from destroying the natural environment and with it their own livelihoods and quality of life, the relationship between the natural environment and cities should rather be a circular metabolism.

Source: Adapted from Eaton et al, 2007

decoupling
Decoupling
  • Currently, an increase in economic productivity (growth in GDP) is coupled with increased resource use and increased waste production.
  • Decoupling therefore means to sever the link between economic growth and the use of resources on the one hand (resource decoupling) and the negative impact on the environment on the other (impact decoupling).
  • The decoupling approach attempts to decrease the amount of resources (such as water or fossil fuels) used to produce economic growth, thus breaking the link between economic development and environmental decline.
  • This type of resource decoupling ultimately results in an increase in the efficient use of resources (UNEP 2011).
decoupling1
Decoupling
  • Decoupling could include the following actions:
    • The control of natural resources to reduce natural resource input;
    • Reduction of waste during the production phase;
    • Reduction of water during the production phase;
    • Re-use and recycling of waste products;
    • Use of treatment of waste to generate energy; and
    • Proper disposal of waste.
resource decoupling
Resource decoupling

Source: UNEP 2011

green economy
Green economy
  • Transition to a green economy
  • “….. there are already good reasons to seek to build a new development path that is more inclusive, less dependent on the exploitation of non-renewable resources and that uses renewable resources more sustainably and strategically.” (NPC,2011:17)
  • Policies related to waste management, biodiversity, energy efficiency (standards in particular), solar water heating, water conservation and demand management, and public transport have been implemented in the recent years to support the shift to a green economy.
creating sustainable cities
Creating sustainable cities
  • Less consumption - Use less resources (water, energy, land)
  • Energy - Energy efficiency and demand side management; alternative energy generation
  • Waste Management - Waste less; Reduce, re-use, recycle
  • Transport – Intelligent Transport Systems; Non motorised transport (walking, cycling); Public Transport
  • Water - Sustainable urban drainage systems and demand side management
creating sustainable cities1
Creating sustainable cities
  • Ensure provision of green public open spaces
  • Integrated development planning
  • Ecological infrastructure
  • Green buildings