0904 GMT August 22, 2019
The world is experiencing an incredible change in population, increasing at unsustainable levels. As a result of this increase, the world faced with sustainability challenges such as climate change, natural resource depletion, water pollution, air pollution, deforestation, waste production, and so on. Because of these problems, the world needs to pay more attention to sustainable development for dealing with these problems. The United Nations has introduced Sustainable Development Goals, and sustainable cities will be a major engine for pursuing them. This is a set of goals to end ecological, social, and economic challenges and make the world a better place for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Also, climate change is yet the most important environmental problem that the world has faced in the last couple of decades. In spite of these problems, a significant improvement in information and communication technology (ICT) has shown a bright future in solving environmental challenges. In other words, increasing environmental concerns and urbanization raise an urgent need to implement science and technology for not only tackling the problems but also anticipating future changes.
Over the last decades, the need finding the best solution and improvement in technologies has led to Smart Sustainable Cities. There are six developments that can be known as the seeds from which the concept of smart sustainable cities has grown, including environmental problems, sustainable development, urbanization, sustainable cities, smart cities, and information and communication technologies.
Also, green infrastructure plays a key role in our natural life-support system. This is the network of natural and manmade features such as green spaces, landscapes, waterways, rivers, and parks, which links and serves our communities and countryside. It supports regulating ecosystem services by increasing water infiltration and has positive impacts on microclimate regulation. Furthermore, urban green infrastructure provides green spaces, offers urban residents the possibility to get in touch with nature, and helps to produce local food. So, green infrastructure plays a vital role in urban sustainability and resilience, which are needed for smart sustainable cities, particularly in the sensitive and vulnerable areas such as the arid, and semi-arid region in the Middle East. The main function of green infrastructure is the provision of ecosystem health, community health and moderating climate that can be combined with information and communication technology (ICT) in order to provide a smart sustainable city for future generations.
Many previous studies have demonstrated that urbanization affects not only the spatial pattern of urban green infrastructure but also the urban landscape itself, which, in turn, influences its ecosystem services such as mitigating urban heat island. For instance, in Iran, with its harsh climate, urbanism and making gardens have always been closely linked together and have provided a sustainable green infrastructure for thousands of years. Iran is located in the Middle East, which has a high rate of sensitivity and vulnerability against climate change. However, over thousands of years, by benefiting from sustainable green infrastructure management, Iranians have been able to achieve resilience and sustainability in ecology, society, and economy.
Unfortunately, as a combined result of the process of urban development in the present century and climate change, a part of this sustainable network has been damaged. Now, despite the technical and scientific development in smart cities, there is a dilemma to tackle the problem of climate change and urbanization in this area. However, this green infrastructure provides traditional patterns which can be combined with information and communication technology and provide a smart sustainable city. In other words, traditional patterns of sustainable green infrastructure can be implemented in a smart sustainable city in this region, and subsequently, smart sustainability can contribute to tackling the complex problems of urbanization and climate change. To achieve this aim, the traditional pattern of green infrastructure should be identified and analyzed.
In conclusion, to take the initial steps towards smart sustainable cities in Iran, the strategic network of green infrastructure, opportunities, and constraints should be identified, and practical solutions should be found to tackle all of the problems with which green infrastructure is faced with. After that, the analysis should be implemented the corporation of the government and local council. Finally, the developed traditional green infrastructure can provide the best opportunity for the sustainability and resilience in this area with the complex condition of ecology, economy, and society.
* Marzieh Rezaei Ghaleh is an expert in sustainability and environment. She has written several articles and won awards as well as worked on different research projects in the field of smart citties and sustainability. She works at Arizona State University in the field of smart sustainable ciities.