Make cities resource efficient: UN report

In a report that is of great importance to urban planners, the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity has stated that by 2030 about 60 per cent of the world's population would be living in urban areas. This is set to impact the biodiversity and ecosystem in terms of loss of agriculture land to urbanisation, which in turn will pose a serious food secuirty threat to the growing population in India.

The report, 'Cities and Biodiversity Outlook', prepared by the CBD and Stockholm Resilience Center with inputs from ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability, was released on Monday as part of the ongoing 11th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD).

It notes that over the next 20 years Asia will be home to almost half of the world's increase in urban land and the most extensive changes will take place in India and China.

India's growing urban clusters such as the Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridor are likely to transform the entire region, with significant bearing on the local habitat and biodiversity. The report points out that global urbanisation and its effects on ecosystems will have 'knock-on effects' on human health and development.

The assessment states that over 60 per cent of the area projected to turn urban by 2030 is yet to be built. This gives planners an opportunity to improve sustainability by promoting low-carbon, resource-efficient development methods.

The report cites examples of cities like Cape Town, New Orleans and Canberra which have used biodiversity to their advantage. In Canberra has around 4 lakh trees within city limits that absorb carbon dioxide, improving air quality and Nakivubo Swamps in Uganda uses wetlands for water purification. Experts say this is especially relevant in India where urban population is set to go up to 50 per cent by 2045 from the current 30 per cent. "India should try to integrate biodiversity and architecture," said Thomas Elmqvist, of the Stockholm Resilience Centre who edited the report.

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