Response to reading for April 5th

  1.  The urban sustainability index aims to collate significant indicators of sustainable development that, taken together, can be used by emerging cities and nations to measure the sustainability of their rapid growth and to inform policy decisions and urban initiatives that will lead to a healthier and more efficient future.
  2. Basically what I found most interesting/potentially problematic in this article was the lack of mention of gentrification and other manifestations of economic inequality.  “Greening” a city is obviously great, increasing green spaces and public transportation and renewing previously industrial areas are all admirable initiatives, but what of the populations that will find themselves displaced from these transformed neighborhoods?  The gentrification process is painfully visible in New York, Brooklyn in particular, and I imagine that a similar process must take place in cities across the world.  When an area is cleaned up and made more appealing to live in, it seems inevitable that poorer populations will gradually be pushed further and further away from these renewed areas as people with more spending power seek out these newly attractive living spaces.  For an urban sustainability index to be truly effective in measuring the healthy growth/development of a city, it seems to me that the process of gentrification must be addressed somehow.  The authors of this article do list access to housing as an indicator, filed under the ‘basic needs’ category, but if I’m not mistaken, nowhere in the article do they mention the affordability of said housing.  Perhaps they do account for this or at least considered it in the development of their USI, but I think it warrants explicit mention in such a document.  All too often we overlook the issue of environmental injustice in our quest towards sustainability and environmental protection.  In a city such as New York, it may just be too late to effectively remediate the damage done by gentrification, as so many populations have already been or will soon be displaced from homes and neighborhoods that they have occupied for generations.  Also really how do you halt such a seemingly inevitable process?  But emerging cities may be able to learn from our mistakes, to better plan and account for the tendency for poorer populations to be pushed out of renewed areas.  Yes, cities in still-developing countries have the opportunity to build much greener and more sustainable cities, but also, equally important, they have the opportunity to build more equitable cities than those we see in America today.

4 thoughts on “Response to reading for April 5th

  1. Milor

    1.Describe what the urban sustainability index proposes to do.
    The urban sustainability index proposes to fill the gap in current analysis of sustainable development. Also, they measure the performance of cities in emerging markets on a common set of sustainability categories. Finally, their goal was to gauge not only the environmental sustainability of cities but also city officials’ commitment to handling their growing urban populations in a sustainable way, and their efficiency in using resources.
    2. Describe three components of this index and comment on whether you view this as achievable.
    Three of the components of this index that I view as achievable are, 1) “green” urban planning by creating mass-transit networks which will cut emissions and congestion. 2) Integrated large-scale recycling where leaders of rapidly industrializing small and midsize cities must find ways to reduce the volume and increase the efficiency of resource consumption. Finally, “cross-departmental coordination,” in this case we can have success in executing sustainable development projects by having a good coordination among city agencies and other bodies. Also, municipal governments should establish formal channels of communication across departments and set targets indicating how often departments should exchange information in order to reach this goal.

  2. osvaldo morales

    Describe what the urban sustainability index proposes to do.
    The index is designed to measure the performance of cities in five sustainability categories: how well they are meeting their citizens’ basic needs, resource efficiency, environmental cleanliness, built environment, and commitment to future sustainability

    Describe three components of this index and comment on whether you view this as achievable
    Three of the components of this index that I view as achievable are: 1 industrial restructuring linked to land renewal “green” urban planning. 2 transparent standards and charges and last integrated large-scale recycling and cross-departmental coordination

  3. Wei

    1. To measure the performance of cities in five sustainability on how well they are meeting their citizens basics needs, resource efficiency, environmental cleanses, built environment and commitment to future sustainability.

    2.Built environment -describes how building and mass transportation are build to work with each other.

    The most basic is meeting their citizens needs, such as water, food, and shelter.

    Then managing the water resources, on how wasted are process and the GDP of their city.

    I think its possible for society to reduce the level of pollution as a group effort. In order to control global warming and take it more serious because this year our weather has been really messed up, one day feels like the summer , another days feels like the fall. Government should probably fund more money into pollution control instead of wars on foreign soil.

  4. Sandra M. Torres

    (Originally posted under Links to Weekly Readings) The Urban Sustainability Index aims to provide a measure of performance of cities in emerging markets with a standardized set of categories of Sustainability. It will address the need for a system that is compatible globally and that can be maintained over time. It is to contain basic information about a city’s performance in a consistent and comparable way.

    It has five main categories of environmental sustainability.
    -level of basic needs met for the citizenry
    -efficient use of resources
    -environmental cleanliness
    -built environment
    -commitment to future Sustainability

    The researchers for the Urban Sustainability Index identified five common themes in the emerging markets of China.
    -industrial restructuring linked to land renewal
    -“green” urban planning
    -transparent standards and charges
    -large scale integrated recycling systems
    -cross departmental coordination

    All of these themes can be implemented, especially in emerging markets, because there are less established bureaucracies and developments. It becomes more difficult when the cities have a long history in existence. Even so, industrial restructuring linked to land renewal can be achieved as it has in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Otherwise, it would require moving industry further away from the economic center of the city which may not prove to be feasible when comparing cost of relocation, cost of transportation of goods and operating costs.

    “Green” urban planning can become an immediate policy change in cities, enforced from any given point in time into the future. In New York City, there are several agencies that enforce these types of efforts along with building codes.

    As for the three other themes, of transparent charges, integrated large-scale recycling and cross departmental coordination, would require a long term commitment from the city officials to maintain those efforts in effect through the change of city administrators.


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