Ezekiel Ufuoma Lucky
The world has changed and the environment the home of man has suffered severe challenges due to the activities mostly carried out by man. Urbanization, environmental pollution, desertification, indiscriminate refuse dumping, burning of fossil fuels and a host of others, have plagued the earth, most of which have contributed to climate change thereby creating more problems than ever before.
From air, land and water pollution to acid rain and the depletion of the ozone layer leading to intense heat during the day, man has faced the pains and the pangs of these environmental problems and the environment have also suffered its share of the problems.
Practical Strategies for Improving the Environment
With the ever-increasing problems of the earth, some strategies can be employed to help regain nature and fight the existing current challenges.
- Building Resilient Cities through the principles of “Green Urbanism”.
Green Urbanism makes every effort to minimize the use of energy, water and materials at each stage of the city’s or district’s life-cycle, including the embodied energy in the extraction and transportation of materials, their fabrication, their assembly into the buildings and, ultimately, the ease and value of their recycling when an individual building’s life is over .
It is a holistic concept of sustainable urban systems and interconnected features, enabling existence and change (growth or shrinkage) without negatively impacting planetary life support systems and ecosystems .
Most existing city patterns give room for the growth of slums and other environmental challenges which contributes to climate change. Applying the principles of green urbanism by introducing the artificial elements of man such that all engineering works are inbuilt into the natural elements, instead of destroying the natural can help to save mother nature, help in the fight against climate change, achieve renewable energy for zero CO2 emissions and the creation of zero-waste city through proper waste management techniques using the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle).
- Proper water management is key to achieving water security. The existing water channels/paths should be cleared and free from dirts and other elements which will prevent proper flow of water and ensuring the wetlands are safe to purify and recycle grey water . This will help to combat some of the existing ills of flooding and erosion threat in a lot of places.
- The use of natural elements of nature through landscaping, gardens, green roofs and biodiversity such that there is a correlation between these elements should be encouraged as this will help to bring people closer to nature.
- The use of local materials which are recyclable and uses less embodied energy should be used in construction projects. These materials should encourage the development of green buildings which would help in creating liveable communities, providing local food for the urban populace while at the same time combating the ills of climate change.
- In the area of transportation, the use of eco-mobility such that there is less reliance on fossil-fuel driven vehicles and more emphasis placed on the use of solar powered vehicles and shared public transportation systems which are efficient, convenient and reduces the need for privately owned vehicles should be encouraged. This will help to reduce traffic congestion and the release of CO2 into the atmosphere.
- Government should be intentional in the creation of liveable cities. They should team up with the necessary environmental experts to ensure cities created are liveable, sustainable and self-sufficient to counter the ills of the existing problems generated by cities of today. The government should innovate public policy, roll-out incentives and subsidise the clean-tech sector, create public–private partnerships to facilitate change, involve community groups and NGOs  in the development process, such that everyone is carried along. Strict development control measures should be carried out by the Urban Planners to ensure developments are strictly followed in order to achieve sustainable development in our cities.
- The use of renewable energy sources such as solar and geo-thermal energy for electricity, cooking and other energy generated activities should be encouraged. More researches should be embarked on in order to improve these renewable energy sources.
- The protection of cultural heritage should be encouraged by protecting existing structures; demand and facilitate more adaptive re-use by relaxing the building code .
- An all-inclusive and sustainable planning for economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all should be encouraged. Planning for flattening the curve should be at the heart of urban planning, with a conscious thinking strategically about resilient planning approaches for the long-term to ‘build back better’  our cities. This is an obvious opportunity for planners to fully incorporate climate-action, redefining green space in cities and revisiting the way city centres are designed for business .
- Cities should adapt to changing ways people work, travel and shop. Four essential avenues to rethink cities are through new housing standards to make people safer and healthier, promoting active travel through non-motorized transport, improving green spaces and reshaping City centres . Cities should be designed to encourage walking and cycling by making footpaths wider and safer through the creation of proper security measures.
- Integrated Urban Services (IUS) which is the provision of weather, climate, hydrology and air quality infrastructure that may be used to support traditional urban services  should be initiated in cities to help understand hazards in order to take the necessary measures to avoid such.
- Communication is key to achieving quality environment. We live in a digital era where communication is at everyone fingertips. Environmentalists, media, government agencies, NGOs, CBOs and others should engage in enlightenment campaigns to inform people of the ills and dangers involved in human-based activities critically affecting the environment negatively. This should be continuous and government should encourage this by placing sanctions and punishment for offenders so as to deter others from engaging in such.
- Afforestation and the consciousness of planting of trees should be encouraged. Various bodies who are interested in the environment should encourage this through volunteering, campaigns, school visitation (especially to those in primary and secondary schools) to create the consciousness in the minds of people on the need for combating climate change through afforestation measures.
- The indiscriminate dumping of refuse on roads, open spaces and water bodies should be discouraged. Government should create mechanisms to encourage recycling of waste materials in order to save the natural resources as well as the environment.
This world is changing but we must protect the earth, as it is the only home for man at the present time. The work has shown that various strategies can be put in place to save the earth and it all starts with you and me.
|||L. Steffen, “What is Green Urbanism? Holistic Principles to Transform Cities for Sustainability,” in Climate Change – Research and Technology for Adaptation and Mitigation, 2011.|
|||L. Steffen, “Low carbon districts: Mitigating the urban heat island with green roof infrastructure,” City, Culture and Society, vol. 5, pp. 1-8, 2014.|
|||O. Olamuyiwa, “Post Covid Building Resilience: The Role of Planners in theCommonwealth,” 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.commonwealth-planners.org/essay-competition.|
|||H. Stefaine, “City Requirements for Integrated Climate, Hydrology and Environment Services,” UN-Habitat, 2020.|
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