Social and Environmental Sustainability in Urban India

Talk at Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

12 March 2015.

Abstract: With rural-to-urban migration and urban-to-rural remittance, the number of people affected by traditional “rural” ills, such as undernourishment and infectious diseases, may decline. However, if cities and urban cultures are not properly developed and maintained, “rural” ills may simply be replaced by “urban” ills, such as stress, physical inactivity and social isolation, which may bring about even more suffering.

Some problems can be solved – or at least countered – immediately by the authorities with rather simple means. Other problems will have to be solved by people and this will require a more concerted and participatory effort.

It is important here to keep in mind that the process of urbanization is also a learning process in which we have to learn how to interact and co-exist with people who are different from ourselves and have different backgrounds and aspirations.

In this talk, Henrik Valeur, will address some of the basic problems related to the urban transition of India, including human health issues, traffic congestion, air pollution, littering, water scarcity, the lack of proper housing and the precarious food situation. He will also suggest some possible solutions, including the use of plants and natural ventilation to create clean indoor air, the revitalization of an existing system of water canals, the creation of vertical kitchen gardens in a rehabilitation colony, self-designed, low-cost housing and a strategy for making an entire neighborhood car-free.

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