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  • Promoting a vision for sustainable and resilient cities TERI and BMTPC organize a conference on "Preparing for an Urban Future: Resilience, Sustainability and Leadership"

    2 November 2010

    Emphasizing the World Habitat Day 2010 theme 'Better City, Better Life', TERI and UNEP release "State of Play 2010" a report explaining the state of sustainable buildings and construction in India, best practices, barriers and recommendations for further implementation towards mitigation of climate change impacts

    New Delhi 1st November 2010: Taking a holistic approach towards examining cities as sustainable habitats and highlighting the need to integrate environmentally sustainable construction practices, technologies and principles at multiple levels and amongst several stakeholders, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in consonance with Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC) organized a conference on "Preparing for an Urban Future: Resilience, Sustainability and Leadership". The conference promoting the 2010 UN World Habitat Day theme 'Better City, Better Life' had the presence of government officials, policymakers, architects, planners, experts and stakeholders deliberating their vision for a sustainable urban future and the urgent need to establish and recognize crucial links between habitat and quality of life in growing cities.

    In her keynote address Ms. Kiran Dhingra, Secretary, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA), Government of India said, "In the initial years in India post independence, urban development was somewhat suppressed because of the large rural development happening in the country. With the JNNURM and Rajiv Avas Yojna (RAY) change has happened and now with the rate at which development is happening in India, the priority is to protect urban populations and enable sustainable development in cities keeping in mind the issue of climate change and promoting urban adaptation, while coordinating efforts among government agencies and stakeholders to help vulnerable communities living in cities."

    Dr Shailesh Kr. Agrawal, Executive Director, BMTPC in his address while emphasizing on the themes 'Resilience, Sustainability and Leadership' said, "The selected themes inform a holistic approach to create sustainable cities in India, which has a growing urban population coupled with erratic rates of urbanization, rural-urban migration and poor services delivery. Habitat vulnerability and a lack of urban resilience will affect formal and informal habitats. The challenge is to upgrade the ability of a city to prepare and anticipate climatic disasters, include provisions for sustainable services delivery and infrastructure and create leadership in terms of accountability, responsiveness and transparency so that cities that are equipped to protect their inhabitants and promote their well-being.

    Mr. S Sunder, Distinguished Fellow TERI in his address said, "Over 50% of the world's population now lives in cities. This number is set to reach 80% by 2050. The urban built environment, natural environment, policies and services all combine to affect cities we live in and, in turn, how the city affects its urban inhabitants. With issues like climate change at the forefront, it is timely to take steps toward protecting vulnerable communities by promoting sustainable and resilient cities."

    India has a growing number of cities with diverse site requirements. Documenting and coordinating their experiences can inform best practices and provide lessons for developed and developing cities worldwide. This conference looks at rebuilding and strengthening collaborative efforts through partnerships and guidelines that connect various government ministries, the private sector and other stakeholders. The conference deliberated around the three selected themes Resilience, Sustainability and Leadership of UN HABITAT's Better City, Better Life theme.

    Resilience: Urban resilience refers to urban efforts to anticipate and response to climate change. Globally there are city and national level initiatives and strategies to address climate change and promote urban adaptation. The ability of a city to prepare and anticipate disasters is an indicator of its long term sustainability.

    Sustainability: A sustainable city should include provisions for sustainable services delivery, provisions for sustainable infrastructure. Beyond environmental sustainability concerns, steps must be taken to identify what and how urban processes, policies and systems can be made sustainable. Urban sustainability is multi facetted; therefore, the conference will focus on two core components that would comprise a sustainable city: services and infrastructure, and green buildings.

    Sustainability of urban services and infrastructure involves a review of case studies from different urban sectors such as solid waste management and urban transport systems. Finally, it will share best practices in Green Building to highlight the role of sustainable materials and practices for habitat construction.

    Leadership: Decentralized good governance is a central component of urban resilience and preparedness. Leadership - in terms of accountability, responsiveness and transparency are crucial as are stakeholder engagement, collaboration and participation. Implementing strategies and action guides whether or not resilience occurs. Leadership affects whether and how national strategies are adopted, how priorities are set and decisions are made as well as the manner in which community buy in secured.

    These three components inform integrated, inclusive and sustainable cities that are equipped to protect their inhabitants and promote their well-being. Each session shared lessons national and international, revolving around a concern for habitat sustainability. The selected themes discussed in detail a holistic approach to create sustainable cities in India. It was also decided at the conference that the deliberation will serve as a launch pad for informing policy mechanisms and integrating sustainable urban development and construction practices into Government schemes and programs like that of JNNURM and Rajiv Avas Yojna.

    During the conference The 'State of Play' of sustainable buildings in India a joint publication of TERI and UNEP-SBCI was released by Dr Leena Srivastava, Executive Director, TERI and Mr. Curt Garrigan, Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative Coordinator, UNEP. The report provides a representative understanding of sustainable building activity in India, including best practices, successes, barriers and recommendations for further implementation towards mitigation of climate change impacts. The report has been structured to address the various schemes (i.e. government codes, strategies, policies vernacular and other institutional schools of thought) that co-exist to direct building construction towards a minimum detrimental impact on the environment. Various case studies have been used to explain the indicators of 'sustainability issues' with an emphasis on life cycle and actual performance of buildings. Seven case-studies of institutional and residential buildings in three prominent climatic zones of India, namely composite, warm-humid and hot-dry, have also been studied. The following four approaches, which have been endorsed by prominent practitioners in the field of sustainable and green building design, government bodies, government agencies and private bodies for voluntary adoption by relevant stakeholders, have been taken up for discussion in the report:


    • Vernacular schools of thought
    • Green ratings for green buildings
    • The Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC)
    • Scheme for star rating of office buildings

    These four approaches are described through case-studies which are representative of the 'state of play' for sustainable building in India.

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