Livable Sustainability

simar kindra

Writer at Oneistox

August 12

06 mins read

Today’s world sees a biased and disproportionate distribution and consumption of resources. Combined with our history of ruthless exploitation of the ecosystem, it is no surprise that we are in the midst of an environmental crisis with a near depletion of natural resources. In this blog, we explore how cities can take small steps today to make themselves more sustainable in the long run.

The Key to Survival

The key to survival is the creation of a sustainable society and city. Image source-

These last couple of months, I’ve been completely consumed with the post-apocalyptic TV show, The 100, that follows the struggle of the last few surviving members of mankind as they try to find another habitable planet, a century after the Earth was destroyed. As the story unfolds, it reveals how the root of the problem had been an ever-growing population that had overwhelmed the planet and had prompted the use of nuclear warfare to wipe out most of mankind and give the Earth time to recover.

Watching it, I realised how ungrateful we are for the Earth we live on today and how, much like the series, the environmental crisis we face today also stems from our swelling numbers which lead to unchecked use of resources. So, naturally, I did what any rational and sane person would do- I stayed up till 3 am contemplating the purpose of our existence and wondering at our callous decisions that hold complete disregard for the future- both ours and the Earth’s. Come morning, I decided I needed to know what we could do about it as a society, to redeem ourselves some and ensure that the future of mankind isn’t completely doomed.

Given what a herculean task saving the world is (a fact that a bucketload of movies would attest to), it is safe to assume that it won’t get done overnight. Our lifestyles today, which include a lot of consumptive practices, do not currently subscribe to this larger goal. We need to start by taking small steps to create a livable city today, so that by the time the next couple of generations inherit this planet, we will have an efficient and sustainable system in place. Because the key to survival is to create a self-sustaining community.

What is Livable Sustainability?


The ideal definition of livability, although subjective, can broadly be understood and gauged by the three parameters- economic, social and environmental prosperity.

1. Economic prosperity of a society ensuring enough jobs and a steady flow of income for its residents would grant them access to educational institutions, medical facilities and recreational activities. This would, thereby, add to their emotional and physical well being.

2. Social prosperity translates to a society that fiercely guards the freedom of its residence in matters of law and expression of opinions, fairly ensuring the distribution of resources to all its residents. This would promote stability and justice.

3. Environmental prosperity of a society- alludes to an infrastructure that encourages passive energy techniques and propagates the judicious and sparing consumption of natural resources. This kind of a society would also manage its waste responsibly and without any negative effects on the natural environment. Thus, the environment should essentially both provide to and benefit from economic prosperity.

The successful and collaborative functioning of these three aspects of a society is what determines how livable and efficient it is. When a society achieves the optimisation of these three facets and has, to a great extent, realized its goals of economic, social and environmental prosperity, it can be said to have reached a condition of livable sustainability. In doing so, it follows a sustainable mode of existence as well as development.

Why Is Livable Sustainability Necessary?


Sustainability and livability are both important concepts that are being implemented in this day and age to draw up comprehensive development plans for cities. More often than not, the two are perceived to be in complete contrast of each other because while sustainability focuses on the long term goals of ensuring global wellness and responsible growth of society with respect to its environment, livability focuses on the immediate comfort and conditions of a community.

Although they may seem like exclusive terms, given their different outlooks towards scale and periods, they do not fully realise their potential when applied independently. By bridging the gap between the myopic manifestation of livability and the broader vision of sustainability, one would be able to create a holistic development strategy that better prepares us for the future, ensures the conservation of our limited natural resources and ascertains that a society’s long term needs, that it may not be aware of today, are successfully met as and when they arise.

How To Implement Livable Sustainability In Our Cities?

A city must be easily walkable and navigable for all its residents and must be designed based on a human-centric model. Image

There are various measures that may be implemented to ensure a city attains this goal. Some broad ways are-

1. A Little of Everything : Mixed-Use Development Cities could be planned in such a manner that a resident does not have to carry out lengthy journeys everyday to reach their places of work, educational facilities or healthcare services. All essential services that one may require would be at a convenient distance from a resident and be easily accessible. Reducing the time and travel in one’s everyday routine could also essentially decrease the excessive and avoidable consumption of resources that would otherwise have been directed towards making these long commutes possible.

Image source- All amenities of importance to a resident such as places of work, educational institutions and hospitals must be within a walkable radius. Image source-

2. Whenever, Wherever : Efficient Public Transport System

Where long travels cannot be avoided, a people-centric, efficient and integrated public transport system could inadvertently decrease the dependence of a community on pollution-causing private alternatives. This would ensure cleaner and less congested cities and healthier residents. Moreover, a system like this could also do away with the need for public parking lots and allow for the possibility of more green spaces for communal gatherings and recreational activities.

An efficient public transport network that is easily accessible to all. Image source-

3. Integrating green and blue networks into city planning

Green and blue networks are integral parts of any city and should be given their due importance right from the planning stage. Community gardens, interconnected systems of greenways and cycle trails, rainwater harvesting systems and wastewater treatment plants are just some elements of the network that could add to the quality of the cities. They provide public spaces for recreational activities, safe paths to travel and render the city more wholesome and human-centric.

Green spaces in the middle of a city provide the residents with places for recreation and gatherings Image source-

4. Resource efficiency

A city’s available resources need to be managed in a judicious and fair manner along with promoting the use of renewable energy sources so that everyone gets their fair share to lead a comfortable life. By maintaining a balance between the rate of demand and supply and accordingly allocating necessary resources, any city could decrease the dependence on non-renewable resources of energy and move towards a more self-sustaining future.

Managing resources efficiently and promoting the use of renewable sources like solar energy. Image

4. Resource efficiency

A city’s available resources need to be managed in a judicious and fair manner along with promoting the use of renewable energy sources so that everyone gets their fair share to lead a comfortable life. By maintaining a balance between the rate of demand and supply and accordingly allocating necessary resources, any city could decrease the dependence on non-renewable resources of energy and move towards a more self-sustaining future.

A Better Today For a Better Tomorrow

Though spoken in a different context, the words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” perfectly illustrate the need to achieve livable sustainability for our societies. Oneistox’s meticulously curated sustainability workshops in India spare no efforts to address present-day issues like these, and more, and prepare young innovative minds to be more prudent in their design approach. By implementing and taking into consideration the importance of creating a livable community in contemporary urban planning, one would, thus, be killing two birds with one stone.

So let's strive for a better tomorrow by creating a better today!

simar kindra

architect landscape foundation
Simar completed her architectural education in 2019 and has ever since helped lay the literary foundations for various ecological research projects with the Landscape Foundation. She is passionate about writing and especially proud of fandom trivia that she has acquired across years of reading, right from Ladybird to Tolkien to Arundhati Roy.

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