Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present, and Future
by Harini Nagendra, Azim Premji University
“Nature in the City” describes changes in nature in the landscape of Bengaluru using a deep historical dive from the 6th century CE to now, looking at trends in the way people perceive nature, charting a trend towards simplification of biodiversity and ecosystem services over time, and looking at pockets of resilience where multifunctional nature still thrives in the midst of urban chaos.
Government Post Graduate College, India
Mountain ecosystems, particularly in developing and underdeveloped regions, are experiencing rapid, unplanned and unregulated urban-growth. Recently, less accessible areas of the Himalaya region in India have begun to urbanize due to the extension of the road network, growth in tourism, and economic globalization. The sprawling urban growth in these fragile mountains and the resultant land use intensification have disrupted the hydrological systems of urban areas, and have consequently increased the susceptibility of anthropogenically-modified slopes to recurrent slope failures, landslides, and flash floods. Moreover, climate change has stressed urban ecosystems by increasing the frequency, severity, and intensity of extreme weather events. Continue reading →
Walking around in a slum in the outskirts of Delhi this past summer, I asked a group of children what they dreamed of becoming when they grow up. Pat came the usual replies of becoming a doctor, engineer, Bollywood star, and so on. But there were some unusual responses as well. A little boy spoke with conviction of becoming a lawyer, and eventually a Supreme Court judge. Interestingly, this little boy’s response evoked the most admiration from his peers as he described how he would fight in the court to protect their settlement and get assured water supply and flood protection. Growing up in Delhi myself, this little boy’s response struck me as unusual but symbolic of the changing times, and shifting aspirations.
On a path of accelerated urbanization, India is going through substantial changes in its land cover and land use. In 1950, shortly after Indian independence, only 17% of the country’s population lived in cities. Today, India’s urban population stands at 33%. India contains three of the world’s ten largest cities, Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata; as well as three of the world’s ten fastest growing cities, Ghaziabad, Surat, and Faridabad. In the past two decades, the area covered by Indian cities has expanded by a staggering 250%, covering an additional 5000 square kilometers of India’s surface with concrete, asphalt and glass (Nagendra et al., 2013). Projections indicate that more than 50% of India’s people will be living in cities by 2050 (United Nations, 2014). This massive urbanization will pose large scale challenges for urban resilience and sustainability, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable: the urban poor, migrant workers, traditional village residents.
Left to right: United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11; Delhi train (Joshua Sperling); Atlanta skyline (Stefanie Brodie).
Our second article this week was written by Dana Boyer (University of Minnesota), Stefanie Brodie (Georgia Tech), Eleanor Stokes (Yale), Joshua Sperling (NCAR), and Alisa Zomer (Yale).
Negotiations are underway to set objectives and targets and establish a framework for implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be adopted by the United Nations in September 2015. SDGs differ from their precursors, the Millennium Development Goals, in that they are meant to apply universally to all countries. We define universality as the ‘appropriateness’ of goals, targets, and indicators for global adoption. Universality is particularly important for cities, as acknowledged in Urban SDG 11, which calls to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”