Maîtriser notre avenir urbain

NEW YORK – D’ici la fin du siècle, notre planète abritera 10 milliards d’être humains, dont 8,5 milliards vivront dans des villes. Cette perspective pourrait relever du cauchemar. Mais sous réserve d’une volonté politique, d’une vision et d’une créativité suffisantes – associées à quelques simples et pragmatiques changements de politiques – nous pourrions construire les cités de nos rêves.

Les villes sont les centres du pouvoir économique et social. Elles tirent le développement, national et mondial, en concentrant les idées, les compétences et les ressources en un lieu unique. Mais le développement urbain rapide d’aujourd’hui a un coût élevé. Au fur et à mesure que les villes s’étendent, elles grignotent des terres arables qui pourraient être utilisées pour produire des aliments. Elles épuisent les ressources en eau, représentent près de 70 pour cent de la consommation mondiale d’énergie et plus de 70 pour cent des émissions de gaz à effet de serre.

Pour que la croissance mondiale soit durable et équitable, nous devons modifier le rapport de forces entre une urbanisation rapide et la consommation incessante des ressources qui la rend possible. Ce rééquilibrage était le principal objectif de la Conférence des Nations unies sur le développement durable, qui a par ailleurs alerté la communauté internationale sur les pressions sans précédent qu’exercera la croissance économique sur les infrastructures (en particulier les transports), sur le logement, le traitement des ordures (en particulier des produits dangereux) et les ressources énergétiques, dans les prochaines décennies.

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