Focus on Cities

Sustainable cities reduce urban impacts, export ideas of sustainability worldwide, and improve quality of life.

BEC focuses on cities for three reasons:

  1. Reduce environmental footprints of cities – Inflow of resources, outflow of impacts (waste, pollution etc.) from an urban area, including urban expansion, can affect much of the countryside. Reducing negative outflows could reduce any city’s environmental footprint and significantly benefit surrounding rural areas.

Urban area encroaching on countryside. Photo: J. Birtch

2. Decisions made in cities control activities around the world – Every city is a market, and a source of administration. Most are centres of manufacturing. As hubs for education, and commerce, many cities also control activities around the world. When these cities become sustainable and people in them adopt a Culture of Sustainability, it will affect all these activities. People in the cities, who are directing administration, manufacturing, commerce and education, will integrate sustainability in their work. And with their global influence, they will export sustainability worldwide.

London, England. Photo: Luke Stackpoole on Rawpixel

3. Sustainable cities improve quality of life for residents. Over half of the world’s population lives in cities. Unfortunately, many cities have been growing unsustainably. Their residents are affected by pollution, unsafe streets, unhealthy buildings, lack of good food and isolation from nature. But sustainable cities can address all of these problems, and improve quality of life for many millions of people.

Affordable housing finalist for World Habitat Award. Photo: J. Birtch