BY HOSSEIN SADRI
SENEM ZEYBEKOĞLU SADRI
Throughout history, cities have been magnets for people for several reasons: as centres of economic production, religious gatherings, political decision making, military defence and any kind of exchanges between people, and they still continue to attract people because of economic and social opportunities they provide, such as employment, education, access to public services and institutions and socio-cultural interactions. Today, half of the human population is living in urban areas, and this number seems to increase even more in the following years. According to United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the population of people living in urban areas is estimated to rise up to 70 % of the whole world population by the year 2050.
Despite all the opportunities and amenities they provide, cities are also places of poverty and social exclusion. Privatization and commodification of urban environments from land to water, from nature to history under neo-liberal economy policies create fragmented urban areas and new lines of division and polarization between different groups of people. As a result of this economic system and urbanization approach, more people are becoming impoverished and dispossessed, and forced to live under poor quality conditions, without access to proper housing, infrastructure and public services. These physical divisions and social polarizations undermine the culture of living together and boost fear of others and racism. When ethnic, cultural and religious divisions are added, cities are becoming spaces of war and conflict and they are losing their characteristics as being places for co-existence and mutual-exchange.
Urban Mass Consumption Demolishes Our Planet:
In addition to poverty, exclusion, xenophobia, radicalism and terror as the sub-products of this system, another problem that we are facing is industrial production for mass consumption, which exerts an enormous pressure over natural resources of our planet earth. Recent findings of scientists address a survival risk for the life of our planet and accordingly our species. If we continue consuming our planet and its physical and natural resources, we will leave our next generations with a big risk of extinction.
Let’s Start the De-Urbanization Movement
For this reason, urgent action is needed. A revolutionary transformation in our anthropocentric and egocentric mind and our destructive social and ecological attitudes towards the Earth and its inhabitants is needed. To be able to change this, we need a holistic alternative social and ecological model which inclusively can cover the needs of our species and the other beings of this planet. Urgently must we stop urbanization and its harms and start the “De-Urbanization” movement.
Creating More Sustainable and Resilient Human Settlement Is the Solution
To be able to create more sustainable and resilient human settlements, we need to develop strategies to support the natural resources and living beings, and transform lands into permanent food sources.
The article was provided by the GAU Centre for Habitat Studies on the World Urbanism Day.