Author Archives: mattaugust

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.