How Are Cities Preparing to Meet Future Challenges?

By 2050, 75% of the world's population will live in cities, and it won’t bode well for Mother Earth. Which is why we decided to ask our correspondents: How is your city preparing itself to meet future challenges?

Published by Sarah on 25/10/2017

As you’ve probably guessed, we at A City Made By People love anything and everything to do with cities. We care of its culture, its environment, but most importantly, we care of its people and how they progress their cities. As urban communities grow, the cities of the world will need to prepare itself to meet future, environmental challenges. But how are our top cities doing it? What are the bright ideas that prepare our cities for the future world?

Acmbp Madrid The Hat Hostel 3
Acmbp Madrid The Hat Hostel 4

The Hat Hostel in Madrid

The Hat is a hostel like no other. This old palace from the nineteenth century was restored to stand out not only for its fancy design, friendly atmosphere, and great rooftop terrace, but for being a leading example in urban sustainability. They are the first building in Madrid that uses biomass, which comes from olive pits, to get its energy. They are also efficient with water and don’t use plastic or paper (the only exception being the toilets), preferring metal and wood as their main materials to work with.

Innovation: The Hat Hostel
Curator: Marta Aguilar

Acmbp Madrid The Hat Hostel 2
Acmbp Madrid The Hat Hostel 1

Sustainable, Urban Agriculture in Amsterdam

When it comes to sustainability, Amsterdam is often considered a step ahead of its European neighbours. The city essentially runs on pedal power, plus the government recently announced an initiative to have the whole city using electric cars by 2025. Entrepreneurs and creatives are investing in sustainable projects across the city, from 3D printed canal houses to free WiFi dished out by trees.

Acmbp Growx 1
Acmbp Growx 2

One initiative that particularly stands out when it comes to future proofing this city is GROWx. On a mission to accelerate the development of sustainable urban agriculture, GROWx is the first vertical farm to be completely powered by renewable electricity.

Growing a clean and wholesome food supply in the heart of Amsterdam means GROWx is not only able to provide restaurants and city-dwellers with fresh and flawless produce. But, their unique growing technique is helping to pave the way for a cleaner, more sustainable way of living. LED lights, a recycled water supply, and circular packaging mean the farm can grow and transport the freshest of greens with a minuscule carbon footprint. 

Innovation: GROWx
Curator: Robyn Collinge

The Rooftop Project in Melbourne

With an ever growing love for plants, not only aesthetically but also for health and happiness, cities worldwide are finding ways to incorporate nature where they can. To counteract the high rises and concrete, Melbourne has announced a new green project, Urban Forest Fund. This will see greenery grow on facades, walls, and pathways in an attempt to tackle extreme city heat resulting from climate change. As an innovative and sustainable city, Melbourne takes pride in ensuring the population are happy and this is another little step forward.

Acmbp Melbourne Urban Forest Map

With this interactive map of Melbourne, you can find existing vegetation or solar systems alongside projected spaces to install either or both in the future. Currently though, rooftops in central Melbourne make up more than 880 hectares of space. To put that to perspective, that's more than five times the size of Melbourne’s largest park, Royal Park.

Innovation: Urban Forest Fund
Curator: Sarah Caust

Smart City 2050, A Futuristic Ambition in Paris

Compared to its neighbouring cities, Paris is lacking in green spaces per inhabitant; 5.8m2 per inhabitant (to be exact), whilst Amsterdam has 36m2, London with 45m2 and Madrid, with a whopping 68m2.

Fortunately Paris is striving to reintroduce nature into its urban landscape. According to Mairie de Paris, ‘each inhabitant will live no more than a 7 minute walk from a green space.’ More importantly, the city is addressing climate change in magnitude, aiming to reduce 75% of greenhouse gases by 2050.

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Acmbp Vincent Callebaut Mountain Tower

Images from Vincent Callebaut Architectures

Under this initiative, architect Vincent Callebaut, was commissioned to present an idealistic “Paris Smart City 2050.” This innovative concept consists of bio air-conditioning the air using hydrodynamic and planted towers, photosynthesis towers covered in organic green algae that will create bio-fuel, vertical farms, and inhabited “amphibian” bridges along the Seine, just to name a few!

Acmbp Vincent Callebaut Conceptual
Acmbp Vincent Callebaut Bridge Tower Above

Some projects are underway as part of the Reinventer Paris initiative, such as an urban farm being built along the ring road, to cultivate Paris’ first urban tea, and a vertical forest in the 13th district.

Innovation: Paris’ Smart City 2050
Curator: Bemi Hammond

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Acmbp Berlin Urban Gardening1

Urban Gardening in Berlin

Urban Gardening or farming is all over Berlin. The former wasteland, Prinzessinnengärten, is now re-used to support and grow local products. Even those who don’t have their own garden can contribute and participate in the growing of all kinds of vegetables, fruits or even honey. Public places or wastelands are taken care of by neighbours, supporters or hobby gardeners and turned into useful resources within the city open for everyone.

Innovation: Urban Gardening
Curator: Juliane Juern

Tokyo’s Carbon Emission Cap-and-Trade

With the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games approaching, sustainability has become an important factor to its host city, Tokyo. As the world’s largest metropolitan area with 37 million citizens, Tokyo is proving a global leadership position to sustainability. How? Well, it might not be in the same level as vertical farming or smart city plans, but it’s something different: Carbon Emission Cap-and-Trade.

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Image courtesy of Alex Knight

The cap-and-trade strategy can be described as a two-part process. The first being “cap,” which puts a limit on all emissions from specified sources. The second being ‘trade,’ which generates carbon allowances that are provided to companies. What Tokyo has done with implementing this strategy is creating the ideal carbon market. Already achieving a 25% reduction in emissions in just five years, it resulted in Tokyo having the world’s most efficient and low-carbon public transportation systems.

Innovation: Tokyo’s Cap-and-Trade
Curator: Sarah Picolet

Despite human aspirations for urban development clashing with nature’s limits, cities are taking action to becoming more sustainable. And our network of correspondents have captured that, showing each of their cities ideas and progressions. 

Does your city have any innovative solutions to prepare itself to meet future, environmental challenges? Share that with us at

If you enjoyed these stories on the progression of our cities, check out more in our print journal here:

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