Water Journal : Water Journal April 2013
WATER APRIL 2 013 38 Opinion In a world of increasing demand for depleting natural resources, the coming decades need to see an increased fusion between science and engineering with a focus on resource use ef ciency to coincide with major global efforts on extracting more from less. The urgent need to address the planet's 'mega trends' -- from planning for sustainable, vibrant, liveable megacities to climate change adaptation -- will drive this collaboration between engineering consultancy rms and technology businesses. Innovations resulting from the partnership between technology and design across the globe will bring a variety of solutions to energy, water and food security issues. The synthesis of technology, science and engineering design makes sense: science is brought into practical application through engineering; engineering design focuses on the detailed plan for creation of infrastructure; technology is concentrated on the tools and processes required to perform a given function. Together, engineering consultancies and technology companies can offer megacities across Asia the potential to develop, commercialise, design, assess and implement optimised solutions for a sustainable future. WHAT IS A MEGATREND? A megatrend is a collection of trends, patterns of economic, social or environmental activity that will change the way people live and the science and technology products they demand. A signi cant megatrend is the need to more ef ciently use our scarce available resources. The earth has limited supplies of natural mineral, energy, water and food resources essential for human survival and maintenance of lifestyles. Data reveals many of these resources are being depleted at often alarming rates. At the same time, population growth and economic growth are placing upward pressure on demand. Companies, governments and communities need to discover new ways of ensuring quality of life for current and future generations within the con nes of the natural world's limited resources. This megatrend is most keenly illustrated in the unprecedented scale and speed of urbanisation across the world, giving rise to a cluster of megacities -- de ned as metropolitan areas with populations of 10 million people or more -- like Delhi in India, Mexico City in Mexico, Manila in the Philippines, Lagos in Nigeria, Beijing and Guangzhou in China. According to a 2012 report by the Asian Development Bank there were 23 megacities on earth, with 12 of them in Asia. By 2025, 21 of the world's 37 megacities will be located there. In 1950, the world had only two megacities, New York and Tokyo. Critically, although experts estimate that the number of megacities of more than 10 million inhabitants will double over the next 10 to 20 years, it is currently lesser known cities -- such as Ghaziabad, Surat or Faridabad in India, Toluca in Mexico, Palembang in Indonesia, the port city of Chittagong in Bangladesh, and Chengdu on the northern coast of China -- that will see the biggest growth. Ghaziabad, part of the urban sprawl of the Indian capital Delhi, is already home to nearly four million people. The municipality of Chengdu will soon reach 20 million. Each of these cities is among the fastest-growing settlements in the world. By comparison, on Australian Bureau of Statistics projections, Sydney and Melbourne will only begin to reach megacity status -- with a population of over seven million -- by 2056. The cumulative growth of these megacities is set to oversee a new era of city living, changing the face of the planet. This rapid increase in demand will put signi cant pressure on social infrastructure: roads, rail, water supply, sanitation and electricity. At the same time, climate variation and natural disasters or extreme events will continue to signi cantly impact on the way new cities are designed, and existing cities are reshaped, to ensure these urban centres are resilient. Combined, these drivers will continue to put strain on the limited food, water and energy resources of the planet. Without bold innovation, there is a danger that we face a bleak future where scarce resources give rise to warring nations and cities become sprawling, divided, chaotic hubs of humanity with falling living standards and declining social amenity. Science, technology, engineering, business THE RISE AND RISE OF MEGACITIES As urban populations increase, demand for essential resources is growing at an alarming rate. So is there a need for greater collaboration between science and engineering to ensure a more sustainable future? Emma Pryor from MWH Global offers her views.
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