1. Home
  2. Stories
  3. Five new concepts of what cities should be
Sustainable Cities

Five new concepts of what cities should be

Publication date: 11-02-2024, Read time: 3 min

In another article, we described some of the challenges of modern urbanization. Urbanization is a phenomenon that often leads to prosperity, productivity and a better quality of life for many. It also often brings with it urban sprawl, environmental degradation, poor living conditions and severe problems of accessibility. Addressing such challenges is the province of urban planning and management.

Over the last few decades, the increasing rate of urbanization worldwide has contributed to the emergence of several new concepts in urban planning and management: sustainability, inclusiveness, compactness, competitiveness, and resilience. In one way or another, these concepts all appear in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 11, which is to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

In this article we'll list some of those new concepts. 

1. The sustainable city

There is no complete agreement on the definition for what a sustainable city should be and which components it should include. Generally, experts agree that a sustainable city should meet the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In practice, urban planning and management in a sustainable city aims to reduce the required inputs of energy, water and food on one hand, while minimising the inevitable output of waste and pollution on the other.

2. The inclusive city

Urbanization is a key factor in the emergence of slums and social ghettos. It also leads to very distinct social (and spatial) divisions within cities. In this context, the concept of the inclusive city has taken shape. An inclusive city includes all citizens in its economic development, political life and access to political power. Its main objectives are to combat exclusion and improve the quality of life (economic and social) of its citizens. The inclusive city is strongly linked with the concepts of justice, equity, democracy and diversity.

3. The compact city

The compact city is an urban planning concept that promotes high residential density along with mixed land use. This concept is based on an efficient public transport system and an urban layout that encourages walking and cycling. There is some empirical evidence that compact cities tend to have lower car use.

4. The competitive city

The competitive city successfully facilitates its firms and industries to create jobs, raise productivity and, over time, provide income growth for its citizens. From an urban planning and management perspective, it's important to be aware of the factors that help to attract, retain and expand the private sector.

5. The resilient city

The resilient city assesses, plans and acts to prepare for and respond to hazards - whether natural or human-caused, sudden or slow, expected or unexpected. Resilient cities are better at protecting and enhancing people’s lives, securing development gains and fostering a reliable investment climate.

To learn more, see our article on the role of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in urban planning and management

Sustainable Cities
Last edited: 14-03-2024

Personalize your experience

Create a free account to save your favorite articles, follow important topics, sign up for newsletters and more!