By Team YFN

Empires rise and fall over time. Cities rise out of the ashes of past mistakes. All around the world, cities are learning and growing, learning from the smoggy, polluted skies of their counterparts in other countries. Learning from the rising cases of asthma, of waterborne diseases, of lung disease due to polluted air, of wildlife dying by the sides of busy highways and railways. In this new age where cities are the basic unit of civilization, it is important to plan these cities in such a way that life is not only easier, but also healthier and creates a smaller negative impact on our planet. 

Let us take a journey around the world to see how some cities have chosen to be more sustainable to live in harmony with our natural world!

#1: Copenhagen, Denmark

This beautiful coastal city in Denmark was named the coolest green city on Earth by the magazine ‘Ecologist.’ Why? Because of its amazing environmental planning and climate friendly infrastructure. The city has designed its streets to be suitable for biking and walking, not for cars and other personal vehicles. All public buses run on electricity, not diesel, and public bikes are available for a very cheap cost if people do not own their own cycles. Architects and engineers worked together to create the Copenhill, a one-of-a-kind building that converts waste into electricity that supplies most of the city neighbourhoods and also serves as a ski resort and hiking spot, depending on the season! The city is also big on recycling, and even has vending machines that pay you when you deposit plastic bottles and cups in them. And to top it all, nearly all the restaurants and eateries are eco-certified, carbon neutral, and use all-organic ingredients. What a magical city indeed! 
Photograph by Roland Varsbergs on Unsplash

#2: Stockholm, Sweden

Spread over 14 islands set close together, Stockholm is an international role model for its environmental and climate change policies. In 2010, it was the first city to be crowned ‘Europe’s Green Capital.’ The city has a complex process of converting sewage into bio-fuel, which is available for cars and taxis to use. The same fuel is now being used for lorries and buses instead of traditional diesel. Stockholm is also working on a city-wide heating system that takes wasted heat (in the form of hot water) from large buildings and circulates it to houses and shops via a pipe network. Plus, every citizen recycles 95 kg waste each year, an impressive amount! 
Photograph by Ana Bórquez on Unsplash

#3: Singapore

Known as one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the world, Singapore started its mission to become green in 1992, targeting clean water, clean air, and clean land. 46 percent of Singapore is made up of greenery and free-flowing waterways, with special parks created to offer peace and quiet to elderly citizens. But 50 years ago, Singapore was a filthy, waste-generating city, not the green hub it is famous as today. How did this transformation happen? Well, the government laid down laws that taxed people for generating more than one bin of waste per day and fined people for littering on the streets. Special days were set aside for cleaning the streets, planting trees, and cleaning the Singapore River and smaller wetlands. Since 2008, all buildings are required to go green, with rooftop gardens, cascading plants hanging from every balcony and growing out of the sides of skyscrapers, just like towering trees that glow in the dark.
Photograph by Sergio Sala on Unsplash

#4: Curitiba, Brazil

Once known as the “Sleeping City” thanks to the cattle farmers who would spend the winter months here on their way to green pastures, Curitiba is now known as one of the world’s greenest cities, all thanks to the hard work of a few dedicated persons. Firstly, the then-mayor decided to create a special express lane on all roads for public buses, which were quick and cheap modes of transportation. However, when the buses began to fill up and bus stops started to slow traffic and become crowded, the mayor ordered the creation of raised platforms and longer buses to fit more passengers and remove the need for stairs in buses and the crowding hazard that comes from climbing up and down stairs at stops. Today, Curitiba’s futuristic bus system is famous around the world and used in many other cities! 
Photograph from Alamy

#5: Berlin, Germany

With an aim of inspiring the world to be carbon neutral, Berlin is actively becoming one of the world’s greenest cities. The city runs interactive ‘green tours’ that teach people about the city’s green goals, local biodiversity, and conservation efforts. Apartment buildings recycle greywater (the dirty water from sinks and showers) and reuse this water to nourish rooftop gardens. This saves a lot of fresh water that is sent to people’s drinking pipes instead of going to plants, which can use greywater easily. Also, the only vehicles allowed in the city centre (downtown) are those with stickers saying that they are green-certified and meet emission standards. This makes Berlin the first European city to impose such a rule. Berlin also has a petroleum tax to encourage families to use public transport and only keep one personal car or two-wheeler. Cycle lanes line city streets and people are paid money to recycle, making these programmes effective and used by all! Hats off to Berlin!
Photograph by Adam Vradenburg on Unsplash

Now that we have seen examples of some of the world’s greenest cities, and the innovative ways that they have chosen to go green, what do you think India can do to follow in their footsteps?