“I came here because I want to make my city a better place to live in,” said an enthusiastic participant as the first edition of three-city design jam ‘City Sessions: The Future’ kicked off in Delhi over the weekend. The event was organised by LetMeBreathe, a global storytelling platform on climate change, pollution and sustainability in partnership with Climate Trends, a capacity-building initiative on environment conversations. The first session held on October 1 got together individuals from different sectors– development communication to social work, environmental engineering to ecology– under one roof, to build a sustainable city.
They ideated on the measures and approaches that can be taken to make Delhi a sustainable and pollution-free city, by the year 2050. Thirty participants were divided into five teams, each led by a mentor, and each were given a pressing concern of Delhi that needs to be resolved to improve the quality of life in the city. The mentors included Prof KT Ravindran, member governing council INTACH, Anthony Lopez, founder, Lopez Design, Ritika Kapoor, researcher, Climate Trends, Harsimran Kaur, associate researcher, International Council on Clean Transportation, and Charve Jain, vice president, Vardhman Estate.
Each team was assigned a topic– heatwaves, air pollution, urban flooding, water crisis and urban mobility– which continue to be pressing environmental concerns of Delhi. The six-hour long design jam was divided into interesting sessions comprising of group huddle on how every individual visualises Delhi of 2050, ideation exercise, solution presentation and a jury session headed by Rameesh Kailasam, President & CEO of IndiaTech.org, a think tank and industry group set up by Indian startup founders and funds for supporting internet-based startup. An online presentation by Andres Colmenares, co-founder of IAM, the creative research lab that helps citizens make better decisions by using futures as tools to anticipate challenges and opportunities, was also one of the key highlights of the day.
Five teams, five issues
The team concerned with the heatwaves addressed the topic with their concern on Delhi not having enough green cover, and the existing ones not spread out evenly in order to tackle the issue. Their solutions involved having small mini forests spread throughout the cities, connected to each other with street tree corridors, which include indegenous and non-invasive species, that actually help with bringing down the temperature of the city.
The second team had their take on urban mobility with the preference for the use of private vehicles being their major concern. Their solution was majorly dependent on vast improvements in the public transportation sector, preferably buses. They suggested having more buses for a seamless commute, and also apps to track the availability, as the current situation of irregular intervals in the availability of buses make it a non desirable option. Also incentivising people for using public transports, or cycling and walking, which will make it more preferable.
The third team addressed urban flooding which involved multiple issues like lack of adequate water drainage, improper waste management which also leads to single use plastics being introduced into the drainage system, causing further hindrances. They also dwelled on the topic of ignorance persisting in the lifestyle of people and the need to make them aware about the situation at hand. They also mentioned the need for proper policies being laid down, which are currently not there for the action required.
The fourth team spoke about air pollution, which is something that defies boundaries and is not restricted to just the city. They also had green cover around the city as a solution for the crisis, but it was not just restricted to government level responsibilities but also initiatives by individuals and households on a private level as well, in the form of terrace and vertical gardens, which could be incentivised. They had a major solution in their arsenal as well, the micro algae, which is supposed to produce oxygen 10 times more than the trees.
The last group had their concern on the water crisis, and also the privilege of the cities that are not facing any crisis yet as there are sources of supplies coming in from neighboring states. The solution that they had in mind was better management of water at individual level which involved having better plumbing fixtures that would ensure next to no wastage of water. Avoiding the RO filtrations at homes as they waste almost 70 percent of the water, and is quite futile to use for Delhi waters as the water here can make do with basic filtration setups. Dual piping system in big societies/colonies, which aims at the community reusing/recycling their water. The government has taken multiple measures to ensure the regeneration of our local water bodies, but if we do not make changes in our lifestyle on a community level, the efforts will be of no good, and the cycle will repeat itself. Even water management should be ensured in farming as it is a very water intensive process and a lot of water goes to waste in the activity.