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Shell looks through future lens to understand the impact of rapid urbanization on Bangkok
New Lenses on Future Cities is the first of a series of supplements on the future of energy and provides a perspective for political and business leaders as they make decisions that affect city planning and development.
Speaking at the event, Shell International’s Chief Political Analyst, Dr.Cho-Oon Khong, said, “According to UN Habitat,it is expected that two-thirds of the entire ASEAN urban population will live in only five Mega-Urban Regions (MURs) by 2020, which is only six years away: the Bangkok-centerd MUR with 30 million people; the Kuala Lumpur-Klang MUR with 6 million; the Singapore Triangle with 10 million; the Java MUR with 100 million; and the Manila MUR with 30 million. Furthermore, according to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations, by 2050, approximately 70% of the world’s population could be living in cities up from 54% in 2014, with 44% of them living in SE Asia.”
“As cities grow, so does the demand on water, food and energy resources. Today, cities consume 66% of the world’s total energy and this could increase by 80% over the next 30 years. Urbanisation will have a huge influence on energy demand, efficiency and sustainability, and will directly affect our quality of life.
“Urbanisation is affecting us in big ways and its up to our businesses, governments and communities to work together to understand the benefits of a cleaner, more energy-efficient future. Planning for the future is critical, and it’s also achievable,” he said.
In reference to industry guest speakers from Thailand’s Urban Design and Development Center (Uddc) and Bangkok-based global design and architecture firm Marques & Jordy, Dr. Khong pointed out there are already organisations in Bangkok who are focused on developing and implementing plans for higher quality of life for Thai people that bring together innovation, competitive economies and sustainable environments.
“It’s inspiring to see there are organisations like UddC and Marques & Jordy who are passionate about sustainable design and environments that take into consideration the challenges Bangkok and Thailand has had in the past and applying these lessons for future, sustainable implementation, while also looking at the quality of life Thai people desire and the unique cultural aspects that make Thailand what it is.”
Dr. Khong said the report highlights how today’s choices and actions can lead to tomorrow’s success and better management of urbanization challenges, particularly for burgeoning cities like Bangkok.
“Despite the many differences between cities around the world, best practice around urban development and how to manage it does exist. Compact, densely-populated, well-planned cities with effective integrated infrastructure and services are more resource-efficient. With appropriate attention, they can also be attractive places to live. Careful planning would help achieve a more efficient, integrated use of resources that places urban design at the heart of efforts to encourage and engineer greater resilience in those systems and services that will be essential to our future wellbeing and prosperity,” he said.
After studying more than 500 urban centres, including megacities with over 10 million residents, the New Lenses on Future Cities report groups cities into six archetypes indicating where energy use is most concentrated and where future urbanisation is set to take place.
According to the New Lens report, energy use is currently concentrated in two of the six archetypes: Sprawling Metropolises like Tokyo; and Prosperous Communities such as Dubai. Urban Powerhouses, like Hong Kong, Singapore and New York, are characterized by high population densities and high individual incomes, meaning they are heavy energy users but their share of global consumption is modest by comparison.
Despite being the most common archetype representing more than half of the cities studied, Underdeveloped Urban Centres account for only 11% of the world’s total energy used; and Developing Mega-Hubs, like Hyderabad and Chongqing, are currently using the least amount of energy of all the archetypes each year. Underprivileged Crowded Cities such as Manila and Bangalore might be relatively light energy users today, but with low individual incomes and medium to high populations most of them will join the next wave of urbanisation as they become more prosperous. Their growing energy demand will shape global levels of energy use, making their development choices critical.
While Shell has been building and applying scenarios for more than 40 years, the New Lens Scenarios introduced a range of new analytical tools, called “lenses”, that help policy and other decision-makers recognise and interpret future energy issues. It also looked over a longer time frame than previous reports, through to 2060 and beyond, showing that rising energy intensity from a growing and more prosperous global population will have increasingly longer-term impact.
Key Findings of Shell’s Scenarios Research on Cities
- Well-designed urbanisation can significantly improve both lives and livelihoods – typically facilitating innovation, collaboration and economic growth. But when managed poorly, urbanisation can lead to a lower quality of life, environmental degradation, increased greenhouse gas emissions, social stresses and political turbulence.
- Cities’ development is shaped by a number of different variables including: existing infrastructure, social and cultural factors, geography, financial resources, and political and institutional capacity to plan and manage growth. Inevitably, some cities will thrive, while others will decline and possibly fail.
- No single model of urbanisation will or should be followed everywhere; nor is there a single design ideal to which all cities will eventually conform.
- Examples of best practice for urban planning and management do exist – and there are important principles planners can apply. For example, compact, densely populated, cities with effectively integrated infrastructure, services and transport systems are more resource-efficient than lower density cities.
- As long as they are well-designed and managed more compact, densely-populated cities can also be attractive and liveable places for residents.
- The long life of urban infrastructure means that the decisions and investments cities make now will shape their resource efficiency and livability for decades to come.
New Lenses on Future Cities is available via www.shell.com/futurecities.