City and its Footprint

Would you like to know exactly what your ecological footprint is, and why it is what it is because you live in a city? Are you a person who drives to work everyday or do you use public transport? Do u live in the suburbs or do u live in the centre of the city? Mostly importantly, how does urban design affect a city’s ecological footprint?  

Global Footprints Network is an organization that asked all these questions and came up with a method to answer them in a calculative manner.  Ecological Footprint — a resource accounting tool that measures how much nature we have, how much we use, and who uses what. This method, overlaid with existing patterns of consumption and living in cities is used to calculate the Ecological Footprint of a city/country. Check out global statistics for Footprint per capita in this interactive map. Split into five categories, this shows where each country stands with respect to global standards. FYI, looking at India’s situation, we can start panicking now.

Global Footprints Analysis.  Source- Global Footprints Network

It is a known fact that cities and the ecologically destructive, urban way of living place a huge strain on global resources. “The global effort for sustainability will be won, or lost, in the world’s cities, where urban design may influence over 70 percent of people’s Ecological Footprint and 80 percent of the world’s population is expected to live by 2050.” High footprint cities in the world consume five-ten times more than the global average, but this strain can be greatly reduced through sensible urban design.

“Since urban infrastructure is long-lasting and influences resource needs for decades to come, infrastructure decisions make or break a city’s future. Which ones are building opportunities for resource-efficient and more competitive lifestyles? Which cities are building future resource traps?”

A well designed public transit system in a city can save thousands of kilometers of private-travel-trips around the city. Well designed pavements and sidewalks may make the difference between choosing to walk to the neighborhood tea-shop and taking the scooter or car. An infrastructure development like the Metro Rail in Chennai now, can affect the trajectory of growth in the future.

And how do we as urban dwellers contribute to the ecological footprint of our city? How do our lifestyle choices make a difference? What can we do to change our city’s ecological footprint? Again, GFN has an answer, a way to find that out and see where we stand globally, as individuals. Measure your urban lifestyle here. See where you stand and let us know in the comments!


3 Replies to “City and its Footprint”

  1. What you have said is correct .But when you consider Indian cities , a government which is already under debt cannot afford the high level urban infrastructure.Even developed countries with high standards of living failed to do so.In that scenario , the prime focus of government will be on economic growth that eventually causes ecological damage.


  2. Thanks on commenting, Sugu. The point here is “a good design” need not be really expensive. It just need enough time and thought. At a City level, any Urban infrastructure needs to be ‘DESIGNED’ before being implemented. The emphasize on the economic growth leads to blind implementation of various infrastructural developments. All we need is a Balance.


  3. Even I am not talking about the expensive infrastructure projects alone,taking a balanced side is what important considering the rapid urbanization. What I am trying to say is Govt is ready to sacrifice ‘Development’ at the cost of ‘Economic growth’.That is the reason everything is not properly designed before being implemented.


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