The health emergency poses new challenges to urban planning. The criteria of sustainability are broadened with those of health, and the concept of healthy city radically changes if extreme poverty is not taken into account. The awareness that individual health is synonymous with collective health is one of the lessons of Covid-19 that we should not miss.
The construction of buildings and cities cannot manage without water. The Smartwater initiative moves forward and expands towards the smart building industry: the Smartwater, Smartbuilding sessions. The We Are Water Foundation gathered leading experts from the world of architecture and design in Mexico City with the aim of presenting and sharing ideas to foster a debate that can be passed on to society as a whole.
Water shortages in many Venezuelan cities are worsened by power cuts and the deterioration of public services, especially affecting the poorest neighborhoods. Most of their inhabitants fight every day to obtain water outside the cities with the serious risks it entails. Others have been implementing a water survival strategy for decades. This is featured in the short film La camisa sucia (The stained shirt), finalist of the We Art Water Film Festival 3.
The unstoppable exponential growth of cities will turn us into an eminently urban species in a few decades. For life on Earth to be sustainable cities also need to be so, and this will not be possible without the smart technologies integrated in circular economy. Their implementation is a great challenge for poor economies, which are most overwhelmed by urban growth and are not able to supply water and sanitation. This needs to be an international responsibility because what happens in these cities will be decisive for life on Earth.
There can be no technological growth without the support of citizens. Intelligent urban water management systems will achieve maximum efficiency if they go hand in hand with architecture, urban planning and governance in a conscious user environment. Cities are destined to be smart, but they will only succeed if their inhabitants are smart. The experts gathered by the We Are Water Foundation corroborate this.
In 2015, the severe water crisis in São Paulo showed the imbalance in the access to water in most large cities in Brazil and changed the way water is managed in a country with over 12% of the reserves of the planet. The expert Marussia Whately explained this in the series of conferences “Water and metropolis”organised by the We Are Water Foundation and Casa Amèrica Catalunya. Brazil reacts and the planet heavily depends on it.
Cities can be much more than just asphalt, bricks and concrete: they can end up supplying most of the food of the future, saving water and being effective elements in the fight against climate change. Urban and peri-urban agriculture is a movement that gains strength as it is a key driver for the transformation and development of cities, and an incentive for the reuse of water.
The abundance of water in Nepal, the second country in the world with more water resources, contrasts with the serious access problems of nine million people, a quarter of its population. Its capital, Kathmandu, suffers the consequences of the lack of management and the pollution of rivers and aquifers. Its inhabitants fight for their water supply every day, and so does the population of many Asian cities.
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