Once thought just a concept, Green Cities is slowly being actualized in the world today. From individual experiments with Green City technologies, it is critically vied for scaling-up of such technologies, particularly in rapidly urbanizing Asia. The fact that the region’s population densities are expected to grow substantially over the coming decades suggests that scale economies could significantly reduce the costs of transitioning to green technologies, thus incentivizing their uptake on a large scale.
With its focus on Asia and its fast developing urban regions the Asian Development Bank (ADB), under its new Urban Operational Plan, will analyze the urbanization process in the context of a country’s economic development and identify the main environmental, social, and economic development issues relating to the urban sector and the proposed areas of investment focus.
ADB will endeavor to develop longer-term engagements in focus urban regions. This will provide the opportunity to develop an integrated plan based on assessments of the environmental, social, and economic priorities for these regions. The assessment process will identify the key environmental issues of a city and prioritize investments to address them in an integrated way across infrastructure sectors to achieve a Green City. ADB, together with public and private partners, will be involved in investments in water supply, waste water, solid waste, district heating/cooling, urban transport (including roads), and energy efficiency. Under ADB’s Urban Operational Plan (2012), a number of innovative financial products are proposed in support of the transition to Green Cities. These include:
- Guarantees for green investments to be used by national public or private financing institutions; and
- Preferential public sector lending in support of clean energy, green transport, and green buildings.
Transformation of today’s cities will not occur overnight. Global-scale application of green technologies is thus likely to be an evolution rather than a revolution. But as the rapid spread of communications-based products has demonstrated, new technologies can spread very quickly, particularly when costs fall rapidly, thus enabling scale economies in production, and hence decrease in price to levels that make such products affordable on a mass scale. Further reading