Climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and rapid urbanization are some of the reasons why we need resilient cities. The argument for liveable, environmentally friendly and socially cohesive cities is more urgent than ever.
When thinking about green cities, places like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, London, Vancouver and Singapore come to mind. What they all have in common is:
- Effective city planning
- Proactive and digitized urban governance
- Environmentally minded policy making
- Resilient infrastructure development
These are some of elements needed to achieve green cities that can stand the shocks and stresses of climate change and socio-economic changes.
Athens, our hometown, is one of the the hottest cities in Europe because of the urban heat island effect. That’s due to its large concrete surface areas and one of the lowest ratios of greenery per person. It also has one of the highest European population densities and suffers from urban sprawl. Outdated infrastructure means the city is vulnerable to flash floods. Old building stock leads to low city-wide energy efficiency. The few green spaces available usually lack maintenance, proper care and facilities.
So, how is Athens adapting and becoming a green city?
Local government, private sponsors and NGOs are taking action to improve the city’s environment and wellbeing. For example:
- The National Gardens and Lycabettus Hill are being upgraded with more flora and fauna, and facilities
- Pocket parks are popping up in central neighborhoods
- NGOs like We4All run large tree planting campaigns covering Athens’ metropolitan area
- New mix-use urban regeneration projects that integrate green spaces are under development
- The upcoming Elliniko metropolitan park will increase public recreational space. It will provide 2,000,000m² of greenery for the city
- A new bike sharing scheme is launching, complete with cycling and pedestrian infrastructure
- Energy efficient buses and electrical vehicle schemes are set to improve sustainable mobility
- A fourth metro line will serve new neighborhoods
- Public and private buildings are being renovated according to energy efficient standards
- Digitization of urban infrastructure management by the authorities is underway
Athens has a long way to go but it looks to be taking the right direction. We hope to see more green urban initiatives taking place in our city. This will require imagination, innovation, planning and cooperation between stakeholders.
On our part, we’d like to see more parks, urban farming, green roofs and the revitalization of our rivers. An expansion of cycling and pedestrian networks is welcome as we both enjoy cycling around the city. Above all, we want more projects that will make our city a happier and healthier place to live in.
Contact us to discuss investing in an energy efficient project.