Going green. The International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank Group) estimates that business opportunities in the green building sector will reach $25 trillion by 2030. This tremendous impact in terms of economic development can be generated by choosing sustainable mobility, efficient water management, and using “green” techniques and materials at all stages of building.
Sustainable construction is therefore fundamental, particularly from the point of view of urban development, because large cities – where 70% of the world’s population will reside by 2050 – face the most difficult challenges. Currently – according to the IFC analysis – 60% of this investment opportunity is in residential construction. Therefore, it is still possible to change course, and some countries have already launched ambitious plans to make sure they get on board the sustainability train.
Sustainable mobility projects in big cities: Singapore
Big cities are a major front in the battle for a sustainable future. Cities are growing by leaps and bounds, and many are committed to tackling pollution and traffic, protecting people’s quality of life. One of the most advanced cities on this front is Singapore, now considered the greenest city in Asia.
Until a few years ago the metropolis was forced to import water from Malaysia, even to meet basic needs, because of scarcity of water for domestic use. Turning that situation around was not impossible. In a short time, the city changed its building rules, and now two-thirds of buildings have roofs and sidewalks able to capture rainwater that is then directed to 18 large collection points. From here, the collected water is managed inside purification plants that make it drinkable.
But Singapore’s race towards sustainability goes beyond the water sector. The city has also put a lot of emphasis on rail transport, and in particular on a driverless subway network that has encouraged the movement of people and helped to significantly reduce both congestion and air pollution. And on March 5, was the Covid-19 epidemic was exploding worldwide, the city authorities announced an investment plan worth $43.5 billion to be allocated entirely to rail transport.
Singapore’s Minister of Transport Khaw Boon Wan said he foresees the improvement of a modern metro and railway network between now and 2030, with the first lines already completed in 2023.
The government’s goal is to add more than 100 kilometres (62 miles) of track within the next decade, from the current 230 kilometres (142 miles) to the planned 360 kilometres (223 miles).
“By 2030, around 80% of Singaporeans will live within walking distance of a train station,” he said. “We would have achieved or exceeded the level of train connectivity enjoyed by the residents in Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York today.”
An important example that demonstrates how the future of any megacity calls for an inevitable urban transformation.
The green revolution in the Philippines
Sustainable mobility, innovative techniques, water management, use of “green” materials. The Philippines has decided to tackle the combined effects of the demographic boom and a climate gone mad. This country of 107 million people, mostly gathered in densely populated areas, suffered through 280 typhoons between 1996 and 2015.
Its geographical position and the absence of natural barriers to the ocean have forced the government to take strict measures to reduce pollution and improve the livability of urban areas. The Government of the Philippines in 2015 announced its plan to achieve a 70% reduction in harmful gas emissions by 2030. A commitment that started with a series of interventions designed and implemented in large cities such as Quezon City, where 2.9 million people now live, and the capital Manila.
Manila started construction of the first city subway line in 2019, which the government says should be partially operational from 2022. The infrastructure will significantly reduce urban congestion, because – once it is completed – the subway will be able to carry 370,000 passengers a day in its first full year of operations, and the 13-station line will cross the entire so-called Greater Manila Area reaching as far as Quezon City.
The Philippines’ development plan is based on the double impact of sustainable infrastructure, both environmental and economic. Making infrastructure “greener” is an opportunity to improve the quality of life, but also a business opportunity. IFC estimates that worldwide, between 2018 and 2023, the revenues from the sustainable infrastructure sector will grow by 50%.