Urbanization degrades the environment, according to conventional wisdom. This view has led many developing countries to limit rural—urban migration and curb urban expansion. But this view is incorrect. There are a number of reasons urbanization can be good for the environment, if managed properly.

First, urbanization brings higher productivity because of its positive externalities and economies of scale. Asian urban productivity is more than 5.5 times that of rural areas. The same output can be produced using fewer resources with urban agglomeration than without. In this sense, urbanization reduces the ecological footprint. The service sector requires urbanization because it needs a concentration of clients. As services generally pollute less than manufacturing, this aspect of urbanization is also beneficial to the environment.

Second, for any given population, the high urban density is benign for the environment. The urban economics literature shows that compactness is a key determinant of energy use. High density can make public transport more viable and reduce the length of trips. Urban living encourages walking and cycling rather than driving.

Third, environment-friendly infrastructure and public services such as piped water, sanitation, and waste management are much easier and more economical to construct, maintain, and operate in an urban setting. Urbanization allows more people to have access to environment-friendly facilities and services at affordable prices.

Fourth, urbanization drives innovation, including green technologies. In the long term, environment-friendly equipment, machines, vehicles, and utilities will determine the future of the green economy. Green innovations in Asia’s cities will be supported by the region’s vast market as the billions of people who will be buying energy-efficient products will create opportunities and incentives for entrepreneurs to invest in developing such products.

Finally, the higher standard of living associated with urbanization provides people with better food, education, housing, and health care. Urban growth generates revenues that fund infrastructure projects, reducing congestion and improving public health. Urbanization fosters a pro-environment stance among property owners and the middle class, which is crucial for the introduction and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.

Of course, urbanization also comes with costs. Millions of people are migrating to Asian cities and companies are locating there to employ them. Urban sprawl and industrial activities, such as power generation, transportation, construction, garbage and waste disposal, harm the environment. An assessment of the impact of urbanization on the environment must balance its benign and adverse effects. Figure 1 shows that the Asian environment–urbanization relationship varies, depending on the level of development. Once a certain threshold has been reached, urbanization becomes good for the environment in terms of lower emissions of CO2 and particle pollution (PM10).

Figure 1: Environment–Urbanization Relationship in Asia

Figure 1 Environment Urbanization can be good for the environment

CO2 = carbon dioxide; PM10 = particulate matter with diameter of 10 micrometers or less; μg/m3 = micrograms per cubic meter; t = ton.

Source: ADB estimates.

The graph’s curves show that cities in the 2000s enjoyed a better environment at the same level of urbanization than cities in the 1990s. To ensure green urbanization, developing countries need to continue the downward shift by adopting the following recommendations.

The first priority is to improve energy efficiency and conservation through appropriate pricing, regulations, and public sector support. It is vital to get prices right so that they incorporate the full social costs and benefits, and ensure the efficient allocation of resources. This can be done by imposing congestion and emission charges, as in Singapore, and by removing inefficient subsidies, as in Indonesia. Other examples are the introduction of carbon taxes, as in the Republic of Korea, and increasing block pricing for water, electricity, and other public utilities, as in the Philippines.

Countries need to introduce regulations and standards in a timely manner. These can correct for market or coordination failures on air, water, vehicles, and appliances, as in India. The government can build green industrial zones to attract manufacturing, as in Indonesia. Improved regulations can reduce or prevent urban sprawl.

Cities need to build rapid public transport systems to improve connectivity and reduce pollution. Speedy connections to and from satellite cities can ease congestion in central megacity hubs. Rapid bus transit systems, as in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and subways, as in India, can reduce environmental degradation in densely populated cities and improve the quality of life.

The second priority is to promote renewable resources and new energy technologies. Waste-to-energy plants reduce pollution and generate energy, as in the Philippines and Thailand. Green technology can be acquired either by importation or innovation through research and development, as in the PRC.

The PRC is building new towns and satellite cities using renewable energy as primary energy sources. Urban sprawl can be tackled by reviving city centers and developing compact, walkable satellite cities centered on efficient train, light rail, or subway systems, without heavy reliance on highways and major roads.

The third priority is to help the poor by reducing disaster risks and improving slum conditions. Disaster risk reduction can be done by building dwellings in safe areas, improving housing affordability for the poor, and investing in drainage infrastructure and climate forecast technology. Policies to improve slum conditions include providing basic services, granting land titles to slum dwellers, and issuing housing vouchers linked in value to the length of a resident’s tenure in the city.

The fourth priority is to strengthen public finance, transparency, and accountability. Public finance can be improved by broadening the tax and revenue base and by increasing the access of urban governments to broader and deeper capital markets in order to lower infrastructure and public service costs.

Politicians can be encouraged to do the right thing by disclosing city government performance to the public and nongovernment organizations, and having national competitions and campaigns to encourage a “race to the top” to reward high achievement.

Reference:

ADB. 2012. Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2012. Manila www.adb.org/publications/key-indicators-asia-and-pacific-2012. The arguments in this post are covered in greater depth in the Key Indicators volume.

 written by Dr. Guanghua Wan is a principal economist at the Asian Development Bank .See more
People reacted to this story.
Show comments Hide comments
Comments to: Urbanization Can Be Good For The Environment
  • Avatar
    October 22, 2014

    I simply want to say I am just newbie to blogging and actually enjoyed you’re page. Most likely I’m going to bookmark your site . You actually come with excellent well written articles. With thanks for sharing with us your website.

  • Avatar
    October 23, 2014

    A round of applause for your article post.Really thank you! Want more.

  • Avatar
    October 24, 2014

    Hey there. I found your site by means of Google while looking for a comparable subject, your website came up. It seems to be good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to come back then.

  • Avatar
    October 24, 2014

    Enjoyed reading this, very good stuff, regards . “Golf isn’t a game, it’s a choice that one makes with one’s life.” by Charles Rosin.

  • Avatar
    October 25, 2014

    Awesome post. I’m a normal visitor of your site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I’ll be a frequent visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 25, 2014

    Awesome post. I’m a regular visitor of your web site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I will be a regular visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    October 25, 2014

    I value you telling your perspective.. Isn’t it amazing once you get an excellent submit? I enjoy you revealing your perspective.. Liking the publish.. thank you

  • Avatar
    October 25, 2014

    Hello there. I discovered your site by way of Google while searching for a similar matter, your site came up. It looks good. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to visit then.

  • Avatar
    October 25, 2014

    I used to be recommended this web site via my cousin. I am now not certain whether this post is written by him as no one else recognise such specific approximately my problem. You are amazing! Thank you!

  • Awesome post. I’m a normal visitor of your website and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I’ll be a frequent visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    October 25, 2014

    Hey there. I discovered your website by way of Google while searching for a related matter, your website got here up. It seems good. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to come back then.

  • Awesome write-up. I’m a normal visitor of your site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I’ll be a regular visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 26, 2014

    Awesome post. I am a regular visitor of your web site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a frequent visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    October 26, 2014

    Thanks, I’ve recently been searching for info approximately this subject for a while and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered till now. However, what concerning the bottom line? Are you positive about the source?

  • Avatar
    October 26, 2014

    Awesome post. I’m a regular visitor of your site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I’ll be a frequent visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    October 26, 2014

    Hi there. I found your blog via Google while searching for a comparable matter, your website got here up. It seems to be good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to visit then.

  • Avatar
    October 27, 2014

    Always a large fan of linking to bloggers that I appreciate but do not get a whole lot of link really like from.

  • Avatar
    October 27, 2014

    Hiya, I’m really glad I’ve found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossip and web stuff and this is really frustrating. A good site with exciting content, this is what I need. Thank you for making this site, and I will be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  • Avatar
    October 27, 2014

    Socius Marketing gets its name from a Latin word meaning partner. The company was founded in 2006 and is based in Tampa, Florida. Socius believes that search engine optimization is essential to the success of any business and seeks to help companies navigate through what has become an increasingly complex industry.Socius Marketing operates under the belief that the customer should expect more from an SEO company than just a bill in the mail. We believe the success of your site hinges on the content on your pages, and it is for this reason that every quote we provide includes building websites through the addition of optimized content created by Socius writers. We firmly believe the end goal is a website that can increase sales and contribute to the growth of your company.

  • Avatar
    October 27, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I’m a normal visitor of your blog and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a regular visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 27, 2014

    This key fact is about the top net Herbal legal smoking buds in recent history visitied. the information is exclusively marvelous.

  • Avatar
    October 27, 2014

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  • Avatar
    October 27, 2014

    So content to possess discovered this article.. Loving the weblog.. best wishes I value you sharing with us your viewpoint.. Very advantageous point of view, thanks for writing..

  • Avatar
    October 27, 2014

    *Nice site. On your blogs very interest and i will tell a friends.

  • Avatar
    October 27, 2014

    I do enjoy the manner in which you have framed this concern plus it really does provide us a lot of fodder for consideration. However, through what precisely I have observed, I just hope as the actual comments pile on that men and women remain on issue and don’t embark on a tirade of the news du jour. Still, thank you for this outstanding point and although I can not really agree with this in totality, I respect the viewpoint.

  • Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this info. Today bloggers publish just about gossip and web stuff and this is actually irritating. A good site with exciting content, that is what I need. Thanks for making this website, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  • Avatar
    October 28, 2014

    Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any tips?

  • Avatar
    October 28, 2014

    Hiya, I’m really glad I’ve found this information. Today bloggers publish only about gossip and internet stuff and this is really annoying. A good website with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thanks for making this website, and I will be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  • Avatar
    October 28, 2014

    Awesome post. I am a normal visitor of your blog and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I will be a frequent visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 28, 2014

    Awesome post. I’m a regular visitor of your site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I’ll be a regular visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    October 28, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I’m a normal visitor of your website and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I will be a regular visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    October 28, 2014

    Awesome post. I’m a regular visitor of your blog and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a regular visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    October 28, 2014

    I am not positively where you’re getting your information, but abundant matter. I requests to spend a number of period learning much extra or else understanding more. Recognition for fantastic in a row I was looking for this information for my mission.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I am a regular visitor of your website and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I’ll be a frequent visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    Hiya, I’m really glad I’ve found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossip and web stuff and this is actually irritating. A good site with exciting content, this is what I need. Thank you for making this web-site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    Hey there. I found your website by way of Google at the same time as looking for a related topic, your web site came up. It seems to be great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to visit then.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    Hey there. I found your site by means of Google while searching for a comparable subject, your website came up. It seems to be good. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to visit then.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I am a regular visitor of your site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a frequent visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    Amazingly good perspective, appreciate your sharing with us.. Liking the contribution.. bless you My personal internet searching seem full.. thank you. yes, research is having to pay off.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    In this awesome design of things you’ll get an A+ for effort. Where you actually misplaced everybody was on your particulars. As as the maxim goes, the devil is in the details… And that couldn’t be more accurate in this article. Having said that, let me reveal to you just what did deliver the results. The authoring is definitely really engaging and this is most likely the reason why I am taking the effort to opine. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. 2nd, while I can easily see a leaps in reason you make, I am definitely not confident of how you seem to unite your ideas which inturn produce the final result. For now I shall subscribe to your position however hope in the future you link your dots better.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    you are in point of fact a good webmaster. The site loading speed is amazing. It kind of feels that you are doing any unique trick. Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you have performed a magnificent activity in this topic!

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    Hiya, I am really glad I have found this info. Today bloggers publish only about gossip and net stuff and this is actually irritating. A good site with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thank you for making this web site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    A big thank you for your blog post.Really thank you!

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    Hello. impressive job. I did not anticipate this. This is a great story. Thanks!

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    certainly like your web-site but you have to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very troublesome to inform the truth on the other hand I will surely come back again.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I am a normal visitor of your blog and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a regular visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    You have completed some straight points there. I tartan by the web to discover added in relation to the deliver and found the majority nation will get all along with your views on this site.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    Hi there! Do you get proviso they make a few plugins to evade with Search Engine Optimization? I’m frustrating to get my blog to rank for some under fire keywords except I’m not as fantastically good outcome. Qualification you get of some satisfy disclose. Thanks!

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    you are really a just right webmaster. The site loading velocity is incredible. It seems that you are doing any unique trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a wonderful process on this topic!

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    Awesome post. I am a regular visitor of your website and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I’ll be a regular visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2014

    *A blog like yours should be earning much money from adsense..-.,”

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    Hello. Very fine blog!! Man .. Superb .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your web situate and engage the feeds additionally…I’m contented to find several useful in a row acceptably at this time surrounded by the post. Merit for sharing.

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    My personal web browsings seem complete.. thanks. I enjoy you revealing your point of view.. yes, study is paying off. Supporting the publish.. regards

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    I do like the way you have presented this specific problem and it really does give us a lot of fodder for thought. Nonetheless, through what I have personally seen, I simply just wish as the remarks pack on that people continue to be on point and not start on a soap box regarding the news of the day. All the same, thank you for this exceptional piece and whilst I do not necessarily concur with it in totality, I respect the point of view.

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    Awesome post. I am a regular visitor of your blog and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I’ll be a regular visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    锘垮鐨囧悗 DVD 2000鍐? 姣庢棩鏂板搧銇撱亾銇汉姘楁捣澶栥儔銉┿優 鍥藉唴銉夈儵銉濪VD銇嬨倝銆併偄銉嬨儭DVD Blu-ray銇俱仹锛岄煋鍥姐儔銉┿優銆併偄銉嬨儭銉夈儵銉炪€佹棩鏈琓V銉夈儵銉炪€佷腑鍥姐儔銉┿優銆備汉姘桪VD鐗逛尽銈汇兗銉腑!鍏ㄥ搧閰嶉€佺劇鏂欍€

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    Sites of interest we have a link to.

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    Sorry for the huge review, but I’m really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

  • Hi there. I found your blog by the use of Google even as looking for a similar topic, your website came up. It appears to be great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to come back then.

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    Vital Criteria For A Tax Attorney – Updated

  • Hello there. I discovered your website by way of Google while looking for a related topic, your website got here up. It seems great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to visit then.

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    I do love the manner in which you have presented this issue plus it does give us a lot of fodder for consideration. However, from what precisely I have witnessed, I simply hope as the feedback pile on that folks keep on issue and in no way get started upon a tirade of some other news of the day. Anyway, thank you for this superb point and whilst I can not really agree with this in totality, I respect your point of view.

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    Spot on with this write-up, I really think this web site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    I’d rather have Lin Dans WC-final T-shirt!!!

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I’m a regular visitor of your blog and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a frequent visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    Office manager Afric Whittingham says Metro Locksmiths’ customers are always impressed by the store’s extensive selection of lock, key and security system products. Mr. Whittingham attributes the company’s success to its consistent focus on providing excellent customer service and competitive pricing. “We know our customers by their first names,” he says. “Our goal is create a unique experience for each client by combining our personal style of doing business with our expert knowledge of locks, keys and security systems.”

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this info. Today bloggers publish just about gossip and net stuff and this is really annoying. A good web site with exciting content, that is what I need. Thank you for making this site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    Thanks for some other excellent post. Where else may just anybody get that kind of info in such an ideal means of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I am on the search for such information.

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossip and web stuff and this is actually frustrating. A good website with interesting content, this is what I need. Thanks for making this site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I am a regular visitor of your blog and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I’ll be a regular visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossip and web stuff and this is really annoying. A good site with interesting content, this is what I need. Thank you for making this web site, and I will be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    Awesome post. I’m a regular visitor of your site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I’ll be a regular visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    u my good sir certainly are a fudge paking homo

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful article. Thank you for providing these details.

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    I do like the way you have framed this specific challenge and it does indeed give me personally a lot of fodder for thought. Nonetheless, coming from what precisely I have experienced, I simply just trust when the actual remarks pile on that people stay on issue and not start upon a tirade involving the news du jour. Still, thank you for this superb piece and although I can not go along with this in totality, I regard the viewpoint.

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    Awesome post. I am a normal visitor of your web site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I’ll be a regular visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    Awesome post. I am a regular visitor of your blog and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a frequent visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I’m a regular visitor of your blog and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I’ll be a frequent visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2014

    I feel that is among the such a lot significant information for me. And i’m satisfied studying your article. But wanna statement on some general issues, The website style is wonderful, the articles is in reality great :D. Excellent task, cheers.

  • Avatar
    November 1, 2014

    Hi there. I found your blog via Google whilst looking for a related topic, your web site got here up. It appears to be good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to visit then.

  • Avatar
    November 1, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I’m a normal visitor of your blog and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I will be a regular visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    November 1, 2014

    Nice replies in return of this question with genuine arguments and explaining the whole thing regarding that.

  • Avatar
    November 1, 2014

    What are some good wordpress themes/plugins that allow you to manipulate design?

  • Avatar
    November 1, 2014

    Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this info. Today bloggers publish only about gossip and net stuff and this is really irritating. A good website with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thank you for making this web site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  • Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this information. Today bloggers publish just about gossip and internet stuff and this is actually frustrating. A good website with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thanks for making this web-site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  • Avatar
    November 1, 2014

    Awesome post. I am a regular visitor of your website and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I will be a regular visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2014

    sure, research is paying off. Certainly advantageous point of view, appreciate your sharing with us.. So happy to have found this publish.. So pleased to have located this article..

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I am a normal visitor of your site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I will be a frequent visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2014

    What are the best schools for a creative writing major?

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I’m a regular visitor of your site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I’ll be a frequent visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2014

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch because I found it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your blog.

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2014

    Awesome post. I’m a regular visitor of your web site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a frequent visitor for a long time.

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2014

    Awesome write-up. I am a regular visitor of your website and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I will be a frequent visitor for a really long time.

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2014

    Hi there. I discovered your site by way of Google even as searching for a comparable topic, your site got here up. It seems great. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to come back then.

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2014

    I’ll immediately grasp your rss as I can’t to find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please permit me recognize so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2014

    Isn’t it fantastic any time you acquire a very good publish? Fantastic ideas you possess here.. So happy to get found this submit.. yes, research is paying off.

Comments are closed.

Login

Welcome to Empirics

We are glad you have decided to join our mission of gathering the collective knowledge of Asia!
Join Empirics