Green infrastructure—from more cycle lanes to cleaner air—not only helps the environment but also boosts jobs, health and productivity, according to research released on Wednesday.
Spending money on improved public transport could create up to 23 million extra jobs each year, according to researchers at the University of Leeds in Britain.
The team analysed more than 700 papers on the impact of low-carbon infrastructure on cities around the world.
By turning new and existing buildings into energy-efficient spaces, cities can generate a further 16 million jobs, said the report, which was commissioned by the Coalition for Urban Transitions, a group of think tanks, institutes and universities pushing for more sustainable cities.
Whether high-quality public transport or segregated cycling lanes, energy-efficient buildings or better waste management, the dollars, lives and hours saved are impressive.
Andy Gouldson, professor, University of Leeds
Investing in cycling routes was also worth between $35 and $136 billion a year in public health benefits, the report added.
“As the evidence mounted up, we were struck by the fact that the cities we want—cleaner, healthier, richer—are made possible through climate action,” said lead author of the study, Andy Gouldson, a professor at the University of Leeds.
“Whether high-quality public transport or segregated cycling lanes, energy-efficient buildings or better waste management, the dollars, lives and hours saved are impressive,” he said in a statement.
Two in three people will be city dwellers by 2050, with the boom concentrated in India, China and Nigeria, according to United Nations estimates released in May.
As of today, 55 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, increasing to 68 per cent by 2050, according to the report on urbanisation by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
The world already has 33 megacities—the largest urban hubs—with another 10 megacities expected to take shape by 2030, mostly in developing countries, the UN report said.
“Governments face a number of urgent challenges in cities: delivering decent services, ensuring a healthy environment, creating economic opportunities for residents,” said economist Sarah Colenbrander from the Coalition for Urban Transitions.
“Low-carbon investment in cities can help meet the needs of residents today, while protecting cities for residents of the future,” she said in a statement.
This story was published with permission from Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, gender equality, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories.
Thanks for reading to the end of this story!
We would be grateful if you would consider joining as a member of The EB Circle. This helps to keep our stories and resources free for all, and it also supports independent journalism dedicated to sustainable development. For a small donation of S$60 a year, your help would make such a big difference.