Cities are changing in pace with the rest of the world. Very quickly. As digitalisation creeps into every aspect of city dwellers’ lives, the emergence of more fluid and faster interconnected urban systems is definitely not far away. Technology can be an excellent accelerator, provided that the real uses and needs in changing cities are clearly identified at the earliest possible stage. SUEZ is focussing on six challenges to build a model of the city of tomorrow that meets the expectations of local authorities, who are demanding well-being and a high standard of communal life for their inhabitants.
Cities capable of withstanding climatic events
As a part of regional and urban development policies, resilience is the capacity of a city to adapt to events, to limit the impacts of natural disasters, and to restore normal service as quickly as possible.
Resilient cities are designed or adapted to be ready for the negative consequences of crises that affect entire regions.
Innovative urban construction and reconversion can help to limit the economic, social and ecological impacts of crises affecting entire regions, in particular on certain networks or buildings (hospitals, heating networks, etc.).
open_resource conference: Jeff HEBERT - New Orleans, USA / Let’s make resilient cities - SUEZ
Credit: SUEZ group
A resourceful city where life is good
How can we guarantee, or even improve the quality of life of inhabitants in the most densely populated cities? Guaranteed water quality, improved air quality, clean streets, waste collection and security are all factors that contribute to the quality of life in a city.
Population growth and rampant urbanisation are fuelling the geometric expansion of urban areas and densification in areas that are already under stress. By 2030, the total surface area of urban areas is expected to increase three-fold, while the population inhabiting them is only expected to double, from 3.84 billion to 4.9 billion people, or 60% of the worldwide population. This urbanisation will weigh heavily on natural resources on a major scale, putting pressure on available land, ecosystems and biodiversity.
The issues raised by the growth of these urban zones can only be addressed by planning cities to consume less and through greater synergy between consumption and production.
Before even considering growth, cities must immediately face up to some major environmental issues (recurrent congestion, atmospheric pollution, waste management, drinking water supplies, etc.) in order to offer their inhabitants the quality of life they expect.
A new kind of governance
Others have preferred decentralisation.
- This allows for numerous decision-making centres that are relatively autonomous.
- It is founded on a transfer of administrative authority and improved control of decisions taken at a local level.
- The stakeholders can become involved, NGOs, businesspeople and the inhabitants can take part in the discussions and the work done by the different policy-making bodies.
- Innovative structures can be created to manage projects to transform local policy (public-private partnerships, consideration of input from professionals, who may or may not be present locally, but who can provide local politicians and authorities with a new vision and expert knowledge of certain subjects).
Attractiveness is also economically driven
Cities are facing increasing competition from each other, mainly due to globalisation. To boost their economic development, they must attract business, commerce and investment, as well as new residents by offering an attractive living environment (cultural facilities, residential areas, green spaces, schools etc.).
Attractiveness boosts competitiveness. A region has all the more chance of being competitive when it is able to attract new economic resources.
So the issue of regional attractiveness is now a key priority in regional development policy.
A participatory and inclusive city
We are seeing new forms of urban organisation whereby every citizen can participate in debates and help make decisions. So tomorrow’s city has a duty to be:
- participatory, as citizens seek to get involved in the public and private decisions that have a direct or indirect impact on their local authority. They now expect to be consulted on important projects and informed of their progress and subsequent results,
- and inclusive, by ensuring all inhabitants are involved in the life of the city and by taking up the challenges posed by social and digital divide.