Sustainable urbanisation must be prioritised by all stakeholders

Posted: 26th October 2020

Cities today generate more than 80% of GDP, provide opportunity for increasing standards of living, and help hundreds of millions lift themselves out of extreme poverty. By 2100, some 85% of the population will live in cities, with the urban population increasing from less than 1 billion in 1950 to 11 billion by 2100.  

The rate of people moving from rural areas into towns and cities is fastest in developing countries due to both migration and natural increase rising rapidly. But when poorly managed, or too fast, urbanisation can be detrimental to the people involved, and the surrounding environment.  


Sustainable urbanisation is required; and balancing economic success with the needs of humanity is a must. But this opportunity needs to be realised by all stakeholders and made a priority through collaboration and shared goals.  

Altair’s work internationally and with the housing market in the UK has highlighted the importance of the many stakeholders: governments; local authorities; banks; development companies; as well as mobility; energy; water; waste management and infrastructure; working together towards a shared vision. A coordinated approach is the only way to truly sustainable development of towns and cities.     

  • Altair is working with Sweco on a project which has provided an accurate review of Rwanda’s housing market and produced viable finance options and business plans to deliver a Green City Project in Kigali, the first of its kind in Africa. The government of Rwanda have taken a holistic approach integrating green building and design, efficient and renewable energy, biodiversity, recycling and inclusive living, in order to commit to global goals for sustainable urban development. The project is all about integration of sustainability and energy efficiency; and the growth will in turn provide more job opportunities across a wide range of disciplines, supporting the local community. To find out more about Green City Kigali and the many stakeholders working together on economic growth with environmental protection to build the vision of Africa’s first green city, click here
  • Our work in Kyrgystan supporting the State Mortgage Company to boost the supply of energy efficient and affordable homes has required collaboration amongst many to establish an effective solution. Altair International led on the project with a number of advisors including Sweco and the Affordable Housing Institute. There have been many challenges to overcome: the volatile weather conditions, the availability of materials, frequent changing of political leadership.  By bringing the many stakeholders together we have to balance the demand side by keeping the mortgages affordable and the supply side by accessing finance for the sustainable housing projects. Altair undertook a workshop with all key stakeholders to explore best practises for standardised, climate-efficient, low-cost rural housing. We were able to come up with detailed specifications for building, and commission a local engineering firm to identify required elements, check availability and costs. The current political unrest creates more uncertainty and has slowed the plans, but this exciting project continues. 
  • Within the UK, Altair have been working with GC Business Growth Hub to understand the barriers and opportunities for use of green technologies by housing providers in Greater Manchester. The research has resulted in recommendations for a low carbon supply chain for the housing sector, involves collaboration amongst housing providers, suppliers, social housing trade bodies, and a call to work together with the Regulator and government for progress. Clearly, sustainable development requires these faculties to come together to make change. 
  • Harlow and Gilston Garden Town commissioned Altair to direct project delivery in the creation of a new, sustainable town. A key facet of the Garden Town is prioritising active and healthy transport, ensuring that 60% of journeys can be completed by sustainable modes of transport. The behavioural change programme is a fundamental part of ensuring that local residents actively support the adoption of sustainable forms of travel as their preferred form. It is this mindset shift amongst everyone which is directly linked to success. 

​Without joined up leadership which truly puts sustainability at the heart of the rapid urbanisation we see globally, and a genuine change of mindset, we risk greater environmental catastrophes, more pandemics, and increased competition for decreasing resources. But we have the science, knowledge, and technology to put this right. If cities across the world collectively address these challenges, we can make a difference.   

We all need to accept sustainable urbanisation must be prioritised, and our collective mindsets must change for sustainability to be top of the agenda, where it belongs. This prioritisation and collaboration is the only way to move forward. 

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