Urban sustainability is an umbrella concept. In the context of a historical process, urbanisation in modern-day South Asia is prominently affected by colonial modernity in the form of Centrality Governance based on colonial interests. In a post-colonial academic discourse on South Asia, the perspective is polarised.
In the book Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge: The British In India, Bernard Cohn calls urbanisation, “colonial forms of knowledge” by obsoleting the indigenous system. On the other side, in From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origin of America’s World, Fareed Zakariya argues that educational institutions and administrative apparatus are the traditional legacies of the British.
In the context of Pakistan, it is difficult to define the word ‘urban’. Its meaning varies theoretically and practically. In the last population census of Pakistan, 2017, more than 36 percent population is urban. According to the United Nations Population Division, it is estimated that in 2025 almost half of the country’s population will live in urban areas of Pakistan. Therefore, the relevant departments, the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives, Provincial Planning and Development Departments, Provincial Local Governments, Divisional Development Authority, and Local and Municipal Governments, need to build a consensus and coordinate efforts to develop a clear understanding of this concept.
Urban sustainability is a multilayered theme. All its sub-themes are inter-linked and intra-linked. To understand urban sustainability, all sub-themes should be considered to present a holistic picture.
From caves to cities, migration is a constant process in the development of human history. Various factors and demands drive it. Contemporary societies have to materialise this demographic shift according to their available natural and energy resources. Therefore, new sustainable urban units are need of the hour where a certain number of population must not exceed. It requires town planning, housing, and sustainable infrastructure.
This is an immensely vital point in terms of urban-local governance, which is the buttress and essence of democracy. At this level, a maximum number of people are participating in it.
To develop the infrastructure, there is a need for residential space but not at the cost of agricultural land. The next important point is connectivity and economic integration, which means a systemic model of transportation and communication — for example, airports to railways, railways to metros, metros to buses and so on. Further, transport is essential because the urban population is not a grower and producer of agricultural products. Hence, adequate transportation is a prerequisite for fulfilling the supply of food.
This is an immensely vital point in terms of urban-local governance, which is the buttress and essence of democracy. At this level, a maximum number of people are participating in it. These representatives are an actual reflection of the majority population and will strive for popular interests rather than monetary interests, leading to social mobility.
Then come climate, water, pollution, and waste management. It is directly linked with a healthy life. Mass-scale green drives should be launched to save the climate, and tax exemptions/incentives should be given to participants. The awareness about saving water for life should be inculcated among the people. The circular economy model is tapping the maximum potential available resources from production to recycling. However, it should be amalgamated and reinterpreted according to the indigenous economy to apply it more effectively.