Sustainable Cities in the Anthropocene? City System Transformation will be needed
The current geological age is viewed as the period during which human activity has become the dominant influence on climate and the environment – the Anthropocene (Cristofaro et al, 2018). A defining feature of the Anthropocene is surely the large scale impacts associated with the rise and spread of the city. In 2016, there were 31 megacities globally and their number is projected to rise to 41 by 2030. (United Nations, 2014). The impact of such concentrated living is exerting extraordinary tolls on the very life support systems that sustain these centres of human population.
As we evaluate the success or otherwise of city living, through a review of transition techniques and technologies, human society may be faced with the momentous conclusion that city living is forcing collapse of the planets life support systems.
We have experimented for millennia; the next radical experiment might require making our cities small, green and self-sustaining. Now there’s a novel idea. An idea that evokes City System Transformation - a renewal process with a ‘One Planet’ impact.
It is the extent to which we adopt City System Transformation that will determine whether the city leaves a mark in the Anthropocene that is only a smudge of pollution and a line of dust, or a vibrant social and economic hub of ideas and innovation that provides healthy and sustainable lives for all.