How Sustainable Development and Parks Can Contribute to Urban Renewal

Walter Tully
January 17, 2012 — 1,264 views  

Humanity began the transition from nomadic farming to urban centers about 3,000 years ago. As urban life began to develop among the civilizations of ancient Sumer, Egypt, and India, the need for organized urban planning became increasingly apparent. Evidence of sophisticated urban planning can be seen in the ruins of many great ancient cities. Moreover, the need for cohesive urban planning has only increased with time, and is vital to ensuring a high standard of development in the modern world. But what exactly is urban planning, and how can it improve the life of city dwellers?

Urban planning is concerned with improving the urban environment with amenities such as parks in Denver CO. In addition, urban planning is concerned with achieving certain social and economic objectives. Modern urban planners are concerned with implementing sustainable development, which can improve the quality of life in large communities. Many urban planners argue that modern lifestyles rely too heavily on the consumption of natural resources, which destroys and pollutes ecosystems. Furthermore, poor urban planning exacerbates social inequality and climate change.

Sustainable development is concerned with the creation of systems that are able to conserve natural resources. One of the best means to promote sustainable development is through proper zoning practices. Zoning is the systematic designation of land use by municipal governments with the intention of promoting organized urban lifestyles. Zoning also prevents new development from interfering with existing residences and businesses.

In the United States, zoning laws designate spaces for residential, agricultural, commercial, or industrial activities. While local municipalities and counties are often in charge of zoning, the state determines zoning laws. Progressive nations such as Japan and Germany emphasize environmental sustainability in their urban planning. These nations zone extensive areas in cities for landscaped space, urban parks, ponds, greenhouses, green roofing, and other measures that diminish the urban heat island effect.

In the United States, densely populated areas such as New York City have complex zoning regulations that encompass floor-area ration regulations and air-rights in an attempt to minimize pollution and overcrowding. From a global perspective, there is a growing awareness about the critical role urban planning plays in national development. In 2006, the World Urban Forum in Vancouver began to streamline sustainable urban development initiatives.

A growing number of national planning bodies have signed the Vancouver Declaration, which commits municipal developers to promoting the principles of the reformed planning agenda. The Vancouver Declaration also addressed the most critical issues of the day such as rapid urbanization, the urbanization of poverty in the developing world, and the effects of urbanization on climate change and the natural environment.

In November 2008, the United Nations sponsored the UN-Habitat World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China. The forum examined the effects of rapid urbanization in the developed and developing world while dissecting its impact on communities, cities, economies, and policies. The forum placed special emphasis on the renewal of existing urban centers through urban renewal initiatives.

Urban renewal may encompass the relocation of businesses and industries, the demolition of derelict structures, the relocation of peoples, and the creation of amenities such as urban parks in Denver CO, civic centers, greenhouses, better transportation systems, and air pollution laws that improve sustainability and overall quality of life in urban centers.

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Walter Tully