After China, India is the most populous country in the world. It will become the first in 2027, according to United Nations World Population Projections, along with Nigeria, it is the state with the fastest population growth. By 2050, the Asian country will have 273 million people and West Africa’s largest state will have 200 million. In this context, green infrastructure planning in India aims to contribute to solving the current development challenges related to economic growth and rapid urban expansion. Hema Kumar, Chairman Green Infrastructure Association of India (IGIN) and Vice President World Green Infrastructure Organization, is one of its key drivers. An entrepreneur and activist, he is based in Bengaluru, the hub of India’s Silicon Valley and a pioneer in innovation. Urban nature Towards more sustainable city models.
Ask: As a key figure in the green infrastructure movement in India, what do you think about the resilience of urban society to face the challenges ahead?
Answer: In India, post-Covid-19, there was a temporary setback in several factors, especially in the urban setting. However, Indians are spontaneous and creative in their lifestyles and bounce back easily from any hardship.
K: Green walls are becoming a cornerstone in green cities. What are the key challenges for the future?
A: Yes, green walls are becoming popular because of visibility. In India, creating awareness about the importance of green infrastructure is a major challenge. At the moment most of the works are private projects, but slowly, more creative ones are appearing in public places like airports, overpasses or subway pillars.
K: How do you see the future growth of megacities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and what will be the role of green infrastructure?
A: Greening has always been a part of the plans of megacities. However, due to lack of green experts and policies, many of them are being remade. Some of India’s airports and other constructions are among the best green projects in the world. Aware of what has been lost in the process of growing these cities, many struggle to see future developments that emphasize green infrastructure and bring nature back into the jungle of steel and concrete.
K: The urban future faces risks and opportunities through the action of various actors. What are the roles that the administration (national and local), universities and research centers, institutions, companies, NGOs, neighborhood organizations, should adopt in the future?
A: Private companies have always been very active in aesthetic and green sustainability. There are also public companies that are now taking green infrastructure projects seriously. It is important for national and local governments to develop green promotion policies. However, we have no policy in any city in India for these global green infrastructures. We have large-scale tree planting and growing urban agriculture, but we have a long way to go to make the environment sustainable in fast-growing megacities. Without proper advocacy and research work and government policies, it will be difficult to do this in a more systematic and sustainable way. Our universities and private institutions should include green infrastructure courses and research papers. NGOs and individuals play an important role.
We have a long way to go to make the environment sustainable in fast-growing megacities
K: In your opinion, what dimensions should be created in the new urban design?
A: Governments should allocate budgets for green development and urban architects and designers should combine strategies with nature-based solutions.
K: A sustainable urban development has to work in various sectors. What is your opinion about it?
A: What we need now is awareness and education among decision makers backed by the latest research and technologies already available in developed countries like Germany and Singapore. If we have principles, we can use more sustainable models that seek better green growth.
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