Tuesday, June 12, 2018

My City My Responsibility - Sustainably Smart city

Dear All, 

I have been travelling in the last few weeks to a lot of places from Vizag-Delhi-Tokyo-Mexico-Pune and all the while I missed blogging, however after this long journey, I would like to share some of the insights of my journey through the sustainability lens. 


For conducting carbon audit of Laya Resource centre, I got an opportunity to visit Visakhapatnam (Vizag in short). Vizag is one of the smart city having a coastal ecosystem with clean beaches having toilets considering disabled people which is rarely seen. The streets and beaches were free from plastic wastes to an extent though there is no official ban! However, in the wave of beautification, the city has set up several statues of babies and wildlife all around the city which made the city look colorful but a bit weird! 

Meanwhile I could attend a RWA (Resident Welfare Association) meet where citizens gathered to discuss waste management issues in their areas which I feel is a good step towards attaining sustainability through citizens' participation which is otherwise not a common thing in Vizag.   

India Gate, Delhi
Happened to visit Delhi yet another smart city in the making, which consists of rich cultural heritage worth seeing (amidst the heavily polluted air and extreme weather pattern). The people in the city seem to be used to the drama happening in and around the city and have become resilient to it. Especially the safety issues, religious protests and terror attacks and all is quite a norm for all. On other hand,  where I attended a conference on #youthwagingpeace by UNESCO MGIEP. I could see a lot of young Delhites advocating for peace against violent extremism in the name of religion, caste, gender, safety, education etc. Met a 17 year old Rohingya community boy educating his community as a social service since he believes that education alone can help improve the situation of his community. I feel that the youth undertaking such initiatives in the city like Delhi can be a wise and sustainable way forward for the capital city. 



Then I landed in Tokyo, en-route to Mexico where I was to attend the conclusion event of my Mentoring for Leadership program on #EducationforSustainableDevelopment. I had a layover of 11 hours at the Tokyo/Narita airport. The airport is huge, it displays various forms of Japanese art and theatre through art galleries inside the airport. Even here I noticed that the washrooms were designed inclusively for the safety and support of mothers with babies, for blind by having braille and audio visual facility, disabled friendly and very user friendly. Inclusiveness which is one of the key aspects of sustainability is so well imbibed in their approach that portrays Sustainable smartness.  


Finally reached Mexico, and my program was held in the University of Guanajuato in Leon, a small city around 380 kms away from Mexico city. I got an opportunity to present our work on Sustainability in the public space of the University and was appreciated by all the people who visited the stand. From here I traveled to the heritage city of Guanajuato. The city is situated in a valley and is full of alleys which makes it walking and biking friendly. Its a good way to connect to the city and also good for health. The city has several tunnels for the cars and buses to move in and out of the city. Various aspects of sustainability could be seen in and around the city that makes it a livable city.




All the above aspects can be easily adopted in Pune city to make it a Sustainably smart city. Our city is rich in culture and heritage. Especially the central part of the city if kept free from four wheelers can be maintained and promoted as the heritage area of the city. The activeness of the citizens and the youth in the city make it a vibrant and live city which can ensure good governance in the city. Appropriate use of ICT can make our city disaster resistant and user friendly. Waste management and conservation of our natural resources will make us a ecologically robust city.

So what is holding us back from being a Sustainably Smart city???

Pournima Agarkar.