Urbanization has the potential to provide tangible environmental benefits that in many cases outweigh its environmental problems. A well-planned city actually benefits the environment by reducing pollution and preserving rural areas. One solution to urban growth is compact development. Dependence on motor vehicles and their associated pollution is reduced as people walk, cycle, or take public transit such as buses or light rails to work and shop. With compact development, fewer parking lots and highways are needed, so there is more room for parks, open space, housing, and businesses. Compact development makes a city more livable, and more people want to live there. (Wiley, John, 2006)
Environmental Challenges of Urban Areas
Growing urban areas affect land-use patterns. Suburban sprawl that encroaches into former forest, wetlands, desert, or agricultural land destroys or fragments wildlife habitat. Portions of Chicago, Boston, and New Orleans, for example, are former wetlands. Most cities have blocks and blocks of brown fields-areas of abandoned, vacant factories, warehouses, and residential sites that may be contaminated from past uses. Meanwhile, the suburbs continue to expand outward, swallowing natural areas and farmland. (Wiley, John, 2006)
Most workers in U.S. cities have to commute dozens of miles through traffic-congested streets from the suburbs where they live to downtown areas where they work. Because development is so spread out in the suburbs, automobiles are a necessity to accomplish everyday chores. The dependence on motor vehicles as our primary means of transportation increases air pollution and causes other environmental problems. (Wiley, John, 2006)
The high density of automobiles, factories, and commercial enterprises in urban areas causes a buildup of airborne emissions, including particulate matter (dust), sulfur oxides, carbon oxides, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds. Urban areas in developing nations have the worst air pollution in the world. Although we have made progress in reducing air pollution in highly developed nations, the atmosphere in many cities often contains higher levels of pollutants than are acceptable based on health standards. (Wiley, John, 2006)
Institutionalizing Community-Based Development — Cote d’Ivoire
The mayor of Abidjan decided to clean up the city to make it a better place to live for his community. The streets used to be cluttered with trash, the roads were damaged, the trash collection was poorly run, the poverty level was very high, and there was poor health care. The mayor of Abidjan created neighborhood committees called CDQs. The CDQs cleaned up the trash in their neighborhoods, fixed the roads, improved the trash collection system so it can now run smoothly, created jobs by hiring residents to clean up the city, and built and ran health centers in each of the neighborhoods. The CDQs also set up training programs to help people get jobs. The mayor of Abidjan overcame the degradation of his city, which is similar to the environmental challenge I talked about in relations to build up of harmful pollutants in the air because the build of the pollutants degrades cities.
City Management in Tilburg: Past, Present and Future — The Netherlands
The city of Tilburg devised a model for its city called the Tilburg Model. The Tilburg Model consists of the city being split up into divisions – each division produces its own product in the city’s industry. In The Tilburg Model, a city board and council is set up for the product’s decision making, and The Civil service makes sure that products are made at the lowest cost available. The Tilburg model overcame abandoned warehouses, vacant lots, and brown fields, as I discussed earlier in the environmental challenges in urban areas, by planning out the city to use every aspect of the city for the benefit of product development by splitting the city in divisions.