Category FAQs Search : Sustainable Development Goal

Question: Brief introduction to sustainable cities.

Answer: 1. Introduction
Human settlements are the result of the dynamic adaptation of the human community operating in a given territory in the conditions of social, economic and historical relations. The areas on which human settlements are located are distinguished by the components of the physical-geographic structure, by the diversity and by the potential natural conditions, as well as by the economic and social factors in which the human settlements appear and develop [1]. Human settlements represent the totality of human communities, villages and towns, regardless of their position, size and functions. Human settlement can be considered a geographic landscape integrated with the natural and social conditions necessary for the existence of housing, work and equipment (power supply, water, transport, communications, sanitation, etc.). Human settlement is a body of land known to be a regular form of property with a hearth on which communal and territorial attributes develop [2]. The term “locality” defines a human, rural or urban settlement, delimited according to the number of inhabitants, the nature of the built-up area, the degree of the social endowment, the technical-public amenities, the function, etc. Hence, human settlements or human habitat refers to some components such as population, construction, markets, streets, industrial platforms, recreation and recreation areas. Human settlements support the unity of natural, social, material, spiritual, cultural and organizational factors, including housing, labor, energy supply, communications, water, sanitation, services, social security, administration systems, cultural facilities, recreation, etc. [1]. The village is the oldest form of human habitation that presents ethnographic, historical, economic, social or urban characteristics. A village is a group of houses and people who are leaving their means of existence of a determined social space.

Defining the sustainable city, the word sustainability has come into such common usage that it sometimes seems ubiquitous. At the outset, this leads to the need to answer two principal questions with regard to the movement of sustainable cities. First, what is a sustainable city? And secondly, why is it important that cities become sustainable? In answering these questions, it is useful to draw a distinction between sustainability and sustainable development. Sustainability in its broadest sense is the capacity of natural systems to endure and to remain diverse and productive over time. Sustainable development is the practice of humans arriving at a level of economic and social development that does not inevitably alter ecological balance [3]. Many settlements were fair, with trade, crafts and administrative functions. In the renaissance era, when the bourgeoisie grew, the cities experienced a period of flowering (Florence, Venice and Rome). In the modern and contemporary era, besides the European and Asian cities, colonized colonists have developed in the Americas (New York, Quebec, Bogota). A major urban transformation accompanied the industrial revolution. Between 1800 and 1990, global population grew almost six times, while urban population multiplied more than 120 times. The human settlement represented by urban settlements has two basic components:

Territorial components that are superimposed on the built perimeter, this being what we call the hearth, delimit the space for the living quarters; sometimes overlaps with the city.

The socioeconomic and environmental component refers to the population and to the work place, which are closely linked to the city’s territory.

The commune is a form of territorial administrative organization that includes exclusively rural settlements, namely villages, whose common point is represented by the unitary, social, cultural or ethnographic character. One or more villages may enter it. The city was defined by F. Ratzel by the existence of three elements: professional activity, concentration of dwellings and number of inhabitants. “The city, as an element of the landscape, is a body linked to the geographical space, inside of which it fulfills a precise function: it concentrates, transforms and redistributes material and spiritual assets.” [4]. It is necessary to consider the marked urbanization that draws the population and the growth of the cities. About half of all people live today in the big provincial cities. The majority of Western cities possess unique cultural and architectural qualities, strong social inclusion forces and exceptional economic development opportunities. Cities are centers of knowledge and sources of growth and innovation. Still, it faces problems linked to demographic and social inequality as well as social exclusion of specific population groups including a lack of affordable housing and environmental issues. In the long run, cities will not be able to fulfill their function of engines of social progress and economic growth as described in the Lisbon Strategy, if we fail to maintain social balance in cities ensuring cultural diversity and setting high-quality standards in the areas of urban design, architecture and environment. It is necessary to increase the need for integrated strategies and coordinated actions by all individuals and institutions involved in urban development that can have a more general impact than only cities that are taken individually. There must be a responsibility for the future of our cities at every level of government—local, regional and international level. To make this multilevel governance genuinely useful, it will be necessary to improve the coordination of the various sectoral policy areas and develop a new sense of responsibility for integrated urban development. Also, it is necessary to make sure that those working on developing these policies at all levels learn the skills and knowledge that they need to build sustainable communities in cities. In modern definition, the city should be conceived not only as a packing of houses and people with a certain physiognomy, with an economic and social life limited to a narrow frame, but especially as a complex organism with much wider functions whose area of manifestation goes far beyond that of the city built in other parts.

(Source: Introductory Chapter: Overview of Sustainable Cities, Theory and Practices, 24 Mar 2021)

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