The reality of dwindling resources and growing urban populations presents a range of challenges that circular economy thinking can help overcome.

And reports released today at the 9th World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur – by the UN Environment International Resource Panel – lays down a set of proposals for building more sustainable cities.

On current consumption rates, and with 66% of the world’s population predicted to live in cities by 2050, demand will ultimately exceed what is available. Fresh thinking is needed, and the Weight of Cities: Resource Requirements of Future Urbanization paper calls on policy makers to develop a range of ‘resource-efficient strategies’.

These include a sharing economy approach to service provision and ‘liveable neighbourhoods where design encourages people to walk or cycle’.

“There are already far too many people around the world who are already being poisoned by breathing dirty, dangerous air in the cities they live in, and it’s alarming to see that this trend is set to worsen,” said UN Environment chief Erik Solheim. “We can and need to do far better. We can design better cities, where people can walk or cycle instead of having to use cars, where waste is recycled rather than burnt or tossed into landfills, and where everyone can access clean fuels and energy.”

The other report – Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Transitions in the ASEAN Region: A Resource Perspective, says that ‘collaborative governance, at all levels, and long-range planning will be needed to transform the [ASEAN] region’s cities’.

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