Green Cities: Considering the Impact of Climate Change and the Environment on Urban Development

Cities are the centre of innovation, creativity, and human development. A foundation for circular economy and sustainable economic models will be provided by expanding eco-friendly corporate structures in urban areas.

Because the urban population is expected to grow by more than 2 billion people by 2050, all nations need to concentrate on creating green cities. The majority of this migration takes place in developing Asian and sub-Saharan African nations.

The supply of land is being challenged by instant urbanisation. Moreover, poor infrastructure causes clogs, harm to the environment, and unpleasant living conditions. Urban metropolis’ erratic growth creates unplanned informal communities lacking adequate infrastructure for protection, affordable housing, and service options.

Residents of these cities will be more vulnerable to natural disasters, climate change events, and human-caused mishaps. The pandemic and epidemic incidents have impacted those who live in slum regions, where access to latrines, hand washing facilities, and social isolation are impossible.

Urban planning difficulties must be addressed by the government, and this will enable cities to take advantage of opportunities. It won’t be simple to rebuild the entire metropolis once the metropolitan area has developed. So, it’s critical to “get urbanisation right” and steer clear of cities with unsustainable infrastructure patterns.

Urban development, socioeconomic factors, and environmental sustainability are all discussed by and the Iqbal Institute of Policy Studies.

Why Does Pakistan Need Green Cities?

Green cities will benefit the environment, lessen air pollution, maintain a rich biodiversity, muffle noise, ensure water storage, and assist in keeping people cool during hot weather. Between 1951 and 2017, Pakistan’s urban population grew from 17.7% to 36.4%.

According to the study’s analysis of the 10 most populous cities’ urban growth patterns, population growth in rural areas is higher than in urban areas. Sewerage and garbage disposal are expanding along with urbanisation.

Industries are situated close to urban centres due to poor urban planning, which has an impact on the health of the populace. Out of 240 countries, Pakistan is the fourth most polluted in the world (AQLI, 2021). Industries are dumping rubbish in rivers and canals and contaminating drinking water because they are not strictly adhering to waste disposal regulations. Thus, poor water quality has an impact on the health of the populace.

According to a report by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) in May 2018, the country would have little to no access to clean water (Shukla, 2018). The country’s population only has access to clean drinking water in 20% of the cases.

These numbers show Pakistan’s need for green cities. Safe drinking water, solid waste management, overall sanitation and hygiene promotion, liquid waste management, liquid waste management, and tree planting are the five pillars of a clean, green Pakistan that The Water Help has underlined.

How to Build Green Cities?

Cities are the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions, intense resource demand, and environmental deterioration. By implementing integrated and participative approaches and using sustainable and resilient pathways for urban development, cities may significantly contribute to the promotion of low-carbon development, energy efficiency, green building, and the reduction of emissions from urban mobility.

The Approach: Integrated, Place-based and Participatory

Urban investment should take into account the requirement to adopt a more all-encompassing strategy that prioritises investments according to the demands of spatial planning and holds effective investment planning.

From National to Local

Local governments and engagement from several levels of government are essential for implementing integrated planning. It must make sure that urban planning match national environmental policy and that national strategies address the difficulties of urbanisation.

The main tool for defining roles across governmental levels, ministries, and stakeholders as well as for integrating sustainability issues, climate change responses, and disaster risks will be the formulation of national urban policies.

Cities and their Surrounding

Planning and policies for cities have a significant impact on how the climate and environment are perceived. A city’s urban planning should include measures to prevent the improvement of slum regions and take neighbouring areas into account (urban, peri-urban and rural). Cities rely on the environment outside of their borders for a source of food, water, and electricity.

Encourage communication and information exchange

Every climate change and sustainability measures must be required to be supported by statistics and factual knowledge.

Employ resilient and sustainable development strategies in urban areas

A city’s growth and its residents’ well-being can be influenced by decisions made in urban planning. Urban resilience is directly supported by strategic urban planning as a strategy for sustainable development. Very few urban planning initiatives specifically address climate change events and efforts to mitigate them.

Low Carbon Emission Development

Reducing the effects of climate change and air pollution can provide economic opportunities, enhance the health of the human population, and improve the entire ecosystem. It may be done by:

  • lowering harmful pollution emissions and identifying low-carbon emission choices
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the transportation, building, and waste management industries to prevent the usage of landfills
  • using vehicles with minimal carbon emissions.

Give Space to Nature

In addition to green spaces, cities offer their residents a wide variety of resources, such as fruits, vegetables, and gardens. Cities will become less vulnerable as a result of ecosystem restoration and protection, which will also boost their resilience and biodiversity.

Moreover, the building of blue and green spaces is necessary to offer habitat for wildlife, process wastewater, mitigate the effects of heat stress, accommodate floods, and provide recreational space. Moreover, hybrid engineering can be used when appropriate.

Green areas should have a good effect but not increase social vulnerability, inequality, or exclusion.

Apply the Circular Economy Principle

In order to enhance resource efficiency, lower pollution and improper waste management, and regenerate the natural system, all industries and stakeholders should cooperate with one another. Some additional initiatives are:

Urge residents to adopt sustainable purchasing habits, and support creative awareness-raising initiatives.
Use sustainable building materials to create structures and infrastructure that are energy efficient.
Create a food system that can connect urban, rural, and peri-urban locations. Incorporate “urban agriculture,” such as community gardens, vertical gardens, etc.

Enhance the Capacity to Finance their Plans.

The following are some strategies to improve the ability to finance sustainability plans:

  • Give the investment that promotes sustainability top priority.
  • By securing significant funds from environmental taxes, the sale and purchase of green bonds, etc., cities should achieve fiscal security.
  • The risk management and adaptation plans for climate change should be quantified by all provincial governments
  • Government should promote the use of Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) investment initiatives.

 Apply Tools for integrated Planning and Decision Making

To combat urban sprawl, it is crucial to create long-term plans. The government should develop well-connected, compact polycentric (more than one centre) settlements and safeguard the area from unnecessarily losing its natural ecosystems.

The planning process should also use Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) to analyse and recommend different development options. The performance of the environment and climate should also be evaluated, and progress in implementing the plan should be monitored in relation to its goals using specific indicators.


Land availability is being challenged by rapid urbanisation. Unfortunately, poor infrastructure causes traffic, deterioration of the environment, and unpleasant living conditions. Urban metropolis’ erratic growth creates unplanned informal communities lacking adequate infrastructure for protection, affordable housing, and service options.

Due to inadequate urban planning and the execution of reforms, Pakistan’s urbanisation is worsening the country’s water, air, and land pollution problems. The nation needs to create green cities.

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Sehrish Irfan is the author of this essay. Research Analyst Sehrish Irfan works for the Iqbal Institute of Policy Studies (IIPS).

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