As of October 31, 2011, the world population has reached 7 billion people (Collins, 2012). The growth rate of humans continue to be staggering, this generates a demand to change the land use, the allocation of resources, and more importantly the realization of the environmental pressures associated with more development (Ascione, 2009). The exponential growth of human development in the recent years has given rise to awareness to the natural ecosystem (Savard & Clergeau, 2000). This awareness towards the environment has created environmental planning. Environmental planning entails facilitating decisions with consideration to the social, political, economic, and natural environment in order to provide a relationship that balances between the environment and human system.
The next level of environmental planning would be ecological city (eco-city) planning. It is here that the balance between environment and human systems is more heavily weighted on the environment. Eco-city planning encompasses developing a city in which there is zero emissions or pollution, near zero solid waste, use of local materials, minimizing life cycles, minimizing virtual values of non-renewable resources, and providing good public health and amenities. (Novotny, Ahern, & Brown, 2010). The principle of an eco-city is to live in harmony with nature while enhancing the quality of life through decentralization and diversity (Roseland, 1997). Eco-city planning aims for perfection in which preserving, enhancing, increasing natural features and environment, and minimizing development impacts on the natural environment are the goals. As utopian as this may seem, the shift towards eco-city planning is a far outcry from reality. This report will argue that narrowing the environmental issue to a few, versus covering all the issues, is a more attainable strategy for developing urban cities. The argument will be supported using Dongtan, China and Masdar City, India as case studies.
Eco-cities have been displayed as an easy solution to environmental crises. As such may cities have attempted to reflect the vision of eco-city planning, such as Vancouver and Calgary, but none have been successful in fulfilling all the criteria to be truly deemed an Eco-city.
There are ten requirements that need to be addressed before deeming a city an Eco-city: (1) land use designs will create compact, diverse, green and safe communities near transportation facilities; (2) alternative modes of transport must be accessible to weaken the societal attachment to the automobile; (3) restore any and all damaged urban environment, (4) create an abundance of safe, convenient, racially, and economically mixed housing; (5) create and improve opportunities for minorities types; (6) support local agriculture, urban greening projects and community gardens; (7) promote and encourage green initiatives; (8) work with businesses to support ecologically sound economic activities; (9) discourage over consumption of...