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February 06, 2020

Role of Urbanisation & its impact on Sustainable Development


Defined as increase in the population of urban areas – urbanization has become a very prominent reality today. This phenomenon is expected to grow even more rapidly over the coming years. Particularly in India, urbanization is on the rise with more than 34% of the population residing in urban areas, which is an increase of about 3 percentage points since the census of 2011. Such drastic increment in urbanization critically impact sustainable development implying meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs; and one aspect that is critical for sustainable development is supporting economic and social well-being, while protecting the environment.

sustainable Though today, the role of urbanisation has been very negative and has created a very harmful impact on sustainable development. Combined with poor urban planning, which is evident across all urban areas in India, urbanization has become an increasingly big challenge.

Rapid urbanization has caused high strain on existing urban resources. In India, urban areas lack adequate planning and with the given rate of urbanisation, the resources which were already limited for urban areas have now become even more strained, leading to excessive air and pollution, inadequate waste management, poor sanitation, and many other problems. Due to exploitation of resources, sustainable development has become a far dream.
Given the fast rate of urbanisation, the economic risks involved in sustainable development have increased. Most of the urban workforce is employed in the informal sector; this workforce is mainly composed of rural-urban migrants who become more vulnerable to economic risks such as low income, excessive overtime, unsafe working environment, no social protection and more.
Due to inadequate resource availability, the people in urban areas lack basic needs such as sanitation, food, water, education, transportation, healthcare and housing. This gives birth to more slums, diseases, crime and greatly hampers the quality of life in urban areas, which corresponds to poor sustainable development.
The population migrating to the urban areas is deprived of adequate resources and tends to remain disadvantaged and often poor. This further widens the gap between the urban rich and poor, which does not tender support in sustainable development. Moreover, the urban poor are eliminated from the decision-making process in spite of having high stakes in urban planning.
Rapid urbanisation has been associated with deteriorating well-being; it has decreased mental-well being among vulnerable urban people. Moreover, increased difference between rich and poor, lack of housing and inequality in treatment hampers sustainable development. Also, the rural-urban migration faces marginalisation due to cultural differences and prejudices.

That said, urbanisation can be beneficial provided it is happens sustainably. Sustainable urbanisation implies urbanisation which is properly planned, executed and prepared for. This would require modification of existing environmental policies (with focus on problems of the cities), use of new-age technologies and strengthening of governance structures. This will lead to more emphasis on efficient construction management. And for people looking to contribute in making a change, must learn from RICS School of Built Environment that offers specialised courses which emphasise on sustainable development and are based on new-age digital curriculum including AI, AR, Big Data, BIM, etc.

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