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Green cities: Nature and sustainability

In recent years, there has been unprecedented urban growth worldwide.

In recent years, there has been unprecedented urban growth worldwide. Uncontrolled development can lead to the creation of cities that are vulnerable to natural disasters, as well as being prone to slum growth and pollution. In this context, more and more urban centres are fortunately committing to a different trend: The development of a green city.

Cities play an essential role in the fight against climate change, they are the first to change and lead this development towards a low-carbon lifestyle, based on efficiency and renewable energies.

A sustainable city is in communion with nature, incorporating "green features" into urban architecture, promoting renewable energies, preserving and protecting natural resources and implementing a sustainable lifestyle through electric mobility, recycling and bioclimatic architecture.

 

A new model for cities

A sustainable city is one that can be self-sufficient in energy and that re-uses its waste. It should also aim to have more sustainable transport, as well as maintaining green spaces and managing its natural resources.

This new model for cities should comply with principles of energy efficiency and sustainability to find the balance between the environment and natural resources. To achieve this Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) should be an efficient and necessary tool for the urban environment.

 

CONAMA: An appointment for sustainability

From 26 to 29 November the 14th edition of the National Congress for the Environment was held at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos in Madrid, an event held every two years since 1992. It is an essential event for the environmental sector. It is a meeting point for all professionals and entities involved in sustainable development.

Because it is attended by so many people, CONAMA is a true summit for sustainable development in Spain. This year's edition also came at a very significant moment: In Spain, the Ministry of Ecological Transition has just been created, so we need to prepare for changes and new features. Companies and citizens have placed sustainability at the forefront of their concerns, so this meeting is an opportunity to make an in-depth analysis of the situation.

This edition dealt with issues relating to the water sector and how it is preparing for climate change, cities undergoing energy transition, urban renovation, electric mobility and bioregions, and these are just some of the essential aspects of sustainability.

Green innovation

A green city does not need to be green in the most literal sense. This definition is actually based on the progress that has been made for the benefit of sustainability through architecture, new technologies and the social component. An example is Reykjavik, in Iceland. This green city has made great progress in mobility as a result of its hydrogen buses, as well as in energy, since its heat and electricity come from renewable geothermal and hydroelectric sources. The city is determined to become fossil fuel-free by 2050.

Malmö, Sweden, is making an ongoing transformation towards energy efficiency and becoming a sustainable city. Many neighbourhoods have already been transformed by using an innovative energy design and they are looking to be more responsive socially, environmentally and economically. In Vancouver, Canada, 90% of the energy comes from renewable sources. The city is a leader in hydro-electric power and is now working on wind, solar and tidal power to significantly reduce the use of fossil fuel.

South Korea is a great example of development. For years it relied heavily on coal and nuclear power but, for a number of years now, the country has been looking to transform by using renewable energy. The city of Pyeongchang is looking to sustainable architecture which consists of a new model that is a perfect combination of a traditional look and the reduction of pollution.

In Spain Barcelona deserves special mention, and features ease of mobility for pedestrians, the use of solar energy and innovative parking strategies. Barcelona aims to be a benchmark in Europe with an urban regeneration plan, showing they have a vision for sustainability whilst also seeking to reduce poverty and invest in abandoned areas. Spain is one of the countries that is strongly committed to changing the ecological model. Its future rests with the green city.

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