An expert in sustainable development from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has helped create a crucial UN report into making world cities as sustainable as possible.
Dr Obas John Ebohon was elected by the UN to oversee the compilation of the 2016 World Cities Report, which looks how the expansion of cities can be carried out in an environmentally-sound way.
Dr Ebohon, a Reader in Energy and Sustainable Development at DMU, has extensive knowledge and of the ways the built environment can be designed to be more sustainable and therefore, how cities can be expanded with minimum impact on the natural environment.
The report has been released ahead of the Habitat III conference, which is taking place in Ecuador this month and at which urbanists, mayors and national leaders from around the world will try and agree on policy which can address the challenges of city expansion and globalisation.
This is the third of the Habitat conference series, which is held every 20 years to track and create sustainable city growth across the world.
Because, as Dr Ebohon said, more and more of the world’s population is living in cities or urban areas.
He said: “Right now, around 54% of the people on earth live in urban areas. We expect that by 2030, that figure will be more like 90%.
“Cities are engines of growth, so for developing economies, like those of Africa, or Asia, the concentration of movement will be ever more into cities.
“The question then becomes how we can accommodate this without destroying the natural environment. Can we build up, into the sky, or below, into the ground, while retaining essential farmland and rural areas?”
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The report finds that while well-managed and sustainable urban development is possible, the majority of cities are unprepared for the likely growth – and unsustainable - and that a new agenda needs to be agreed by leaders across the world at both local and national level.
It is a discussion about this new agenda which the Habitat III conference hopes to foster.
Dr Ebohon said: “I have learned a lot from helping compile this report. There is a divide between academics like myself and the people who this work needs to connect with.
“We have made this report as accessible as possible, in the hope that it can be relevant and understood at all levels, because we need to engage everybody in the creation of this policy.
“It will not work to have a few people telling others what to do. It needs to be something all people want to do.”
Posted on Thursday 20th October 2016