Managing Asian Cities - The broad environmental footprint of Asian cities

The challenge of urbanization in Asia is unprecedented - some 1.1 billion people will move to cities in the next 20 years.

The urbanization of Asia is occurring at a pace and on a scale never seen before. Living standards have increased dramatically for many, but for many others there is poverty, exclusion, and environmental squalor. For both economic and political reasons, governments must work to maximize the efficiency and sustainability of their cities.  

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has published an informative study entitled Managing Asian Cities that provides a useful management resource for those wishing to canvass key issues in the urban marketplace of Asia. It also serves to guide ADB Project Managers in a new phase of ADB’s continuing support to Asian cities under its Strategy 2020.

The study is organized in two parts. The first reviews the existing situation. The second presents options for improved urban management practice.

Throughout the report suggested options for solving problems are distinguished between cities of differing wealth, size, and capacity. The report also focuses promoting a city’s self-reliance, suggesting ways in which different types of cities can take on more responsibility for their own development.

Lastly, the report focuses on how to establish enabling frameworks for urban development. Rather than suggesting prescriptive interventions, the report concentrates on government as less of a doer and more of a facilitator for the community and private sector.

Chapter 3 of Part I of the Report contains an excellent overview of the environmental issues affecting cities in Asia. It shows that despite improvements in some areas, Asian cities have large environmental footprints that endanger both their economic base and the global environment. Improving the quality of urban life is imperative.

The authors of this Chapter believe the urban environment of Asia’s large cities environment must be protected by encouraging lower emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG). Sustainable but affordable city development should be the goal.

They stress that thinking about cities and their roles will need to change. The emphasis for too long has been on economic growth. But it is the quality of life that will increasingly determine the success of cities in Asia. This calls for new capacities in city management.

At the moment, most Asian cities lack the resources for environmental management, including the management of sustainable urban transport. That is why this guide to ADB programming is such an important resource for those companies seeking to work in Asian urban management marketplace.

Source: Asian Development Bank (ADB)

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