Is there a misalignment between what we want from cities and what we get? Are cities on a track of  sustainability?

In a lot of ways, cities are built for the people who inhabit it. I cannot deny that there aren’t any efforts form the civic authorities to realize the needs of the citizens and take them into consideration. Whether or not they start acting on it soon, is a different question all together. What cities get depends on social interests, monetary capabilities, regulation policies, profits margins and variety of other factors. It is out of the scope of a common city man to get into the complexities of these development processes. The most he can do is, hope for this ‘want’ to materialize someday.

But as responsible citizens, we have the start considering the ecological effects of what we demand. We demand convenience in every aspect of the city life. We want to be able to travel in extreme comfort. We want to have controlled environments. We want parking wherever we go. We want to able to build the longest bridges, the tallest buildings or the largest terminals. At what cost? The disappointing thing is, that we still associate cost with money and not with consequences. The consequences of using depleting natural resources, increasing carbon emissions and deforestation.

Urbanites have to realize the difference between necessities, comforts and conveniences. They have to choose what they want from the city not for themselves or the community, but for improving or sustaining natural environments.  One cannot blame humans for their choices as we are all products of the same society. We have learnt to feed on earth’s resources to get what we want. Our society works on the very fact of having a constant war with nature to meet our needs, rather that working with it. The issue of climate change and global warming has gone way beyond scale of the cities. It is the come to a point where it’s a misalignment of what humans want from nature and how we take it.

Whether or not cities are on a track of sustainability is concerned, absolutely not. Sustainability is not about fitting solar panels on building terraces. It is not about green walls and cross ventilation. It is not methodology for the building performance. It is a mindset. A lifestyle which needs us to make right choices for the betterment of us humans and the earth.

Abhishek Bodkay


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