Why climate resilience is the foundation of cities of the future

The one thing all successful cities of the future will have in common is they will be climate resilient spaces, capable of mitigating and adapting to climate change

By Dawood Al Hajri

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The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan has been crafted in line with the UAE Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative.— Wam file
The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan has been crafted in line with the UAE Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative.— Wam file

Published: Tue 5 Dec 2023, 5:28 PM

Last updated: Tue 5 Dec 2023, 8:55 PM

With more than half the world’s population already living in cities, and the UN predicting that by 2050 more than 68 per cent of people will reside in them, urban planning must be a top priority for governments over the next decade.

As their populations grow, cities in the future will take many forms. They will be built on different economic models, they will have unique architectural characteristics, and they will cater for different lifestyles. While individuality is cause for celebration, there is one thing all the most successful cities of the future will have in common; they will be climate resilient spaces, capable of mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Sustainable, climate resilient cities have an important place on the agenda at COP28. In fact, the conference, hosted in the UAE, is inviting representatives from more than 1,000 cities to discuss the future of urban spaces, providing a vital platform to exchange knowledge and experiences.

It is fitting that these representatives are meeting in Dubai, where one of the world’s most sustainable, futuristic cities is taking shape. Our city is being built on a bedrock of carefully considered strategies, including the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, that have been crafted in line with the UAE Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative.

These are comprehensive strategies, built in partnership with international organisations, government entities, the private sector, civil society and experts in every field. As such, Dubai’s model for urban development is inclusive, bringing together some of the best minds, innovators and talents under a single vision.

At Dubai Municipality, we are taking this vision and translating it into designs for a leading global city at the forefront of sustainable urban living. The result is advanced initiatives, such as a geospatial digital twin that helps us to map emissions and simulate scenarios. Another project is the Al Sa’fat system, which regulates and incentivises sustainable practices in construction.

Some of these initiatives are being exhibited at Dubai Municipality’s stand at COP28, where it is a Strategic Pathway Partner. Others will be presented during COP28, including projects to expand green spaces and nature reserves, reuse wastewater, and achieve zero waste.

One of the boldest initiatives Dubai Municipality has announced is our plan to achieve net zero operations by 2050. Through a phased approach, we have committed to changing policies, changing behaviours, enhancing energy efficiency, electrification, adopting renewable energy, as well as capturing and storing carbon. Our path towards net zero focuses on several areas, including clean energy, green buildings, climate-resilient design, materials substitution in addition to water and waste management.

As part of these plans, Dubai Municipality is cooperating with and harnessing expertise from a huge breadth of sectors to transform the challenges we face today into opportunities for tomorrow. This journey must be an inclusive one bringing together all stakeholders – from policymakers to individuals – to ensure a city built by everyone, for everyone; and this includes future generations.

That is why Dubai Municipality is committed to protecting biodiversity, supporting ecosystems and conserving resources for decades to come. That means championing principles of the circular economy; and it means transforming a visionary outlook into a tangible reality on the ground.

This is a reality that reflects Dubai Municipality’s commitment to building one of the most sustainable, beautiful, pioneering and liveable cities in the world. More than that, it embodies a global model that can serve as an inspiration to future cities around the globe.

(Dawood Al Hajri is Director-General of Dubai Municipality.)


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