A Need for Safe and Inclusive Green Space

The concept of space is diverse and is used across different disciplines. However, the article focuses on the everyday meaning of space i.e., physical landscape occupied by animate and inanimate objects alike. With the ever-increasing population and limited land resources ultimately gives way to struggle for space or to find solutions to increase the space. The pursuit to increase space has led to shrinking of green spaces, destruction of habitats among many others. A very unsustainable solution had been adopted by the governments and people to incorporate the beings on the stagnant resource.

The coming up of new cities – new households have also roped in new modern-day problems degrading the quality of living the cities – making the lower income families susceptible to harsh effects of diseases and disasters. Keeping this in mind, UNESCO has come up with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the SDGs is Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDGs 11) which is further broken in many different parts. Safe and Inclusive Green Spaces is one of them – the subject of the article.

Why do we need ‘Safe’ and ‘Inclusive’ ‘Green Spaces’?  Let’s start with the need for green spaces. It has been estimated that by 2050, 68% of the global population will come to reside in urban areas. Asia and Africa will see the influx of people to urban areas more than ever. However, the quality of living can never be assured. Study suggests that nine million people die every year due to the direct effects of air pollution.

One of the major problems that the urban areas face is the frequent appearances of ‘urban heat island’. Urban Heat Island refers to trapping of heat in between the built-up areas. The presence of built-up areas in close proximity and lack of green spaces disable the proper air circulation – trapping of heat – increasing the temperature by many folds – leading to the severe cases of heat stroke during the summer peak. Studies have confirmed that green spaces can easily mitigate the harsh effect of urban heat island. Other than this, green spaces will allow proper infiltration of rainwater – preventing water logging. It also filters the harmful particles – increasing the longevity of life. Green Spaces is a step towards the creation of harsh climate resilience cities.

The ‘Safe’ and ‘Inclusive’ component of the same is quite self-explanatory and can be interpreted in different ways as well. The article interprets these component as non-discriminatory measures. The cities are not only becoming the hub of crime rates but also of the subtle ways of exclusivity. The Spaces need to be constructed in such a way that it looks approachable for all the genders across all the sections. It should not scare one away and accepts the other. The need for safe and inclusive green spaces is because of the issues that surrounds us – crime rates; the harboring of hate for certain section sections and most important for the sustainable way of living – without fear, with quality.

If we focus on India, urbanization in India has followed quite the same path as other developing countries or some of the developed ones – concentration of population in certain cities of the country. Though the country does not have any primate states, it has primate cities at the regional level such as Ahmedabad, Patna, Mumbai, Delhi. The growing concentration in only certain parts of the country has also led to environmental degradation. Moreover, the paucity of space has led to evolution of cramped houses and walls on the fringes of the cities. The cities are also severely affected by various natural disasters – heatwaves, floods among many other extremes. The frequent changing course of the river in Bihar has been its major cause of worry. The drowning of Mumbai due to few hours of heavy rain yet again points to our lack of sustainable of planning. The death of over 1334 people in Ahmedabad in 2010 due to heat waves should drag our attention to the harsh effect of environmental degradation.

The governments across countries are formulating plans to survive the changing climate – the need of the hour also calls for individual and community level participation. Individually, people can partake in activities such as terrace gardening – contributing to the making of green spaces. Community can come together for the building of green parks, for taking up the work of cleaning alongside each other. An important role can be played by youth – to spread awareness and to bring in practice against littering, against wastage, towards sustainability.  

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