Ravi Gupta


As we mark World Habitat Day in 2023, it’s crucial to contemplate the evolving urban landscape and its impact on economies and the environment. Globally, the UN predicts that by 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population will reside in cities. In India, urban populations are expected to soar to 600 million by 2030, signifying a monumental shift in our way of life.

Urbanisation poses significant challenges and opportunities. To combat the climate crisis, sustainable urban development must become a cornerstone of our future. The numbers are alarming; for a net-zero emissions target by 2070, 84 per cent of car sales must be electric. Buildings, responsible for 25 per cent of India’s energy consumption, will see a 700 per cent increase in energy demand by 2050, necessitating a 45 per cent reduction in electricity usage. The waste sector, contributing 2.7 per cent of India’s greenhouse gas emissions, is expected to produce 1.1 million tonnes of urban solid waste daily by 2050.

Cities, hubs of economic and social activity, can drive positive change. They currently generate 60 per cent of India’s GDP, and by 2050, 60 per cent of Indians will live in urban areas, compared to the current 33 per cent. This demographic shift presents vast opportunities for growth and innovation.

By 2047, it’s estimated that India can create 35 million green jobs, contingent on sustainability and environmental stewardship efforts. Currently, only 30 per cent of urban waste is treated in India, leaving room for action. Wastewater management is expected to grow at a rate of 13 per cent, emphasising the need for investments in sustainable infrastructure and waste management.

The digital transformation in India is propelling urban expansion. The value of India’s digital economy is projected to surpass US$1 trillion by 2025, offering economic prosperity and the potential for smart, sustainable urban development.

On this World Habitat Day, let’s recognize that our nation’s destiny is intertwined with our cities. Resilient urban economies driven by innovation and sustainability are not mere aspirations but necessities. Policymakers, businesses, and citizens must unite to envision a future where urbanization coexists with nature, actively working towards cities that are not only engines of growth but also stewards of our planet. The time for action is now, starting in our cities where the future takes shape.

 

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