Urban sprawl, Kinshasa: 13++? million on an area like Los Angeles - without the freeways!
Urbanization is accelerating with the impact of climate change. The consequences are already detected in terms of exacerbated rural conditions with extreme floods, landslides and droughts. Over time raised sea water levels and saline farming land will further push these migration trends. With escalating demand the cost of urban land increases dramatically and housing is forced to make use of inappropriate land such as steep hills with landslide hazards, swamps or other unhealthy environments.
Conventional bungalow style housing schemes as promoted by banks, or huge squatter settlements and other one level development create an unprecedented urban sprawl. Mega-cities grow like cancer without the necessary facilities.
Transport systems and urban infrastructure networks, totally insufficient today, will further deteriorate.
Private solutions such as four-wheel drives, personal generators and water pumps can help only a few who can afford them but at a high environmental cost for everybody. At sundown, in the well-off areas all the individual generators on the balconies start to rattle and spread stinking exhaust fumes.
Urban planning is needed more than ever for a reasonable housing density with functional utilities and services. Synergy effects could then be achieved when systems and networks are coordinated such as when waste problems are turned into energy resources, sewers to recycled water, floods directed to buffer zones etc.
Public transport could then be organized for efficiency and cleaner environment.
Poster Montreal Ecocity summit 2011: Expo (heavy pdf)