Business / Green China

Future is green for Asian cities

By Karl Wilson in Sydney (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-30 07:02

Singru notes how Asian cities are embracing green concepts and identifying ways to become healthier and more livable through the improvement of air, water and land.

"Under the ADB's Green Cities Initiative in Southeast Asia we are working with Hue and Vinh Yen in Vietnam, Malacca in Malaysia, Mandalay in Myanmar, and four cities in Indonesia," she says.

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Singapore has prioritized waste minimization, and a widespread recycling project has resulted in upward of 60 percent of waste currently being recycled.

It also required all new buildings in the central business district to incorporate green spaces, whether it be within the building itself or a small park on the roof.

Cambodia has transformed a water system in Phnom Penh that, in the early 1990s, only served one in five residents with poor-quality water intermittently. In place is a system to provide international-standard potable water to over 90 percent of the population - 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

So what do people in Asia want to see in their cities? The answers are complex, but if you take northern Vietnam's Vinh Yen as an example, the sentiments of the locals there reflect those of millions living in urban areas around the region, according to Singru.

They want their environment to be clean, fresh and in harmony with nature, with more trees, more small parks, fewer cars, in convenient and modern settings.

The people of Vinh Yen are not unique in their aspirations for a livable city. Throughout Asia, people are recognizing that cities serve a function beyond business and economic growth.

They are places where people live, children go to school, and families spend time together. The quality of the air, water and land in these cities has a direct impact on millions of people.

So how can Asian cities be transformed from sprawling, gridlocked and polluted commercial centers into healthy, livable areas that can be sustained for decades?

The ADB says the transformation of Asia's cities requires a "complete rethink of the way urban areas are developed and managed".

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