Tag Archives: india

New Book by Harini Nagendra on Bengaluru, India

Nature in the City - Harini


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.

Available now in the UK and on September 7 in the United States.

Viewpoints: Rapid urban growth in mountainous regions: The case of Nainital, India

Prakash C. Tiwari
Kumaon University, India

Bhagwati Joshi
Government Post Graduate College, India

shutterstock_362847104 (1)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

Viewpoints: Top Ten Most Viewed Articles of 2015

shutterstock_208627057 (1)

  1. Dana Boyer, Stefanie Brodie, Joshua Sperling, Eleanor Stokes & Alisa Zomer | Implementing the Urban Sustainable Development Goal in Atlanta and Delhi
  2. Federico Caprotti | Building the smart city: Moving beyond the critiques 
  3. Alexander Aylett | Green cities and smart cities: The potential and pitfalls of digitally-enabled green urbanism
  4. Chiara Certoma and Francesco Rizzi | Smart cities for smart citizens: Enabling urban transitions through crowdsourcing
  5. Patricia Romero-Lankao and Daniel Gnatz | Do cities have the institutional capacity to address climate change?
  6. Harini Nagendra | Ecologically-smart cities: Keeping urban ecosystems centre stage in India’s Smart Cities programme
  7. Emma Arnold and Karen O’Brien | The Art of Urban Transformations
  8. Olivia Bina and Andrea Ricci | Building scenarios for sustainable urbanisation: Balancing ‘can’, ‘need’ & ‘want’ 
  9. Andres Luque-Ayala | Urbanization and global environmental change: A matter of politics?
  10. Tracey Holloway | What’s next for air quality in the United States?

A huge thank you to our generous authors and dedicated readers!

Viewpoints: Legal innovations and judges as change agents in the complex landscape of urban environmental governance

Rimjhim Aggarwal
Arizona State University, USA

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.

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Viewpoints: Ecologically-Smart Cities: Keeping Urban Ecosystems Centre Stage In India’s Smart Cities Programme

8. A tree branch provides shade and shelter for a makeshift cradle, holding the sleeping child of a street vendor iHarini Nagendra
Azim Premji University, India

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.

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Implementing the Urban SDG in Atlanta and Delhi


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.”

To determine universal indicators is no simple task.  Tensions often flare in negotiations, as some nations point to their common but differentiated responsibilities while a lack of consensus prevails on definitions and performance metrics for urban sustainability (Hiremath et al., 2013, Lynch et al., 2013, Shen et al., 2011). Efforts to devise a core set of indicators, including the Bangalore Outcome and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), have examined a small set of ‘universal’ indicators but have yet to address how universality applies to specific urban areas. The United Nations Statistical Commission recently released a review and ranking of the feasibility, suitability, and relevance of proposed SDG indicators. The UN-Stats analysis, however, reflects the perspectives of national statistics offices, which are often ill-suited to see the needs and understand the scale of the city.

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