Most people can agree that cities are places where large numbers of people live and work; they are hubs of government, commerce and transportation. This issue that I am interested in exploring is population loss because it is a major problem in large cities like Columbus. I chose to explore this issue because I did several case studies in Cleveland during a program that focused on the future of cities. I considered focusing on food security, climate change, vacant houses, and food deserts. I am also passionate about agro forestry and self sustaining agricultural practices. I think population loss fits within the sustainability model because it involves all aspects of the three topics.
Cities planners utilized infrastructure in the early 1900s to develop advanced transportation. Large highways split low-income neighborhoods in half and forced people to flee the cities to retain their livelihoods. This led to “white flight” and many families moved into suburban neighborhoods for the American dream. However, this led to many unintentional consequences that forced people to desert their homes and leave their old lives behind.
This issue has encouraged gentrification and inequality in cities because people cannot afford to live in areas with high taxes and increasingly unaffordable resources like food. This creates pockets of mostly African American people living in low-income housing and not having enough resources for a healthy lifestyle. This also creates educational inequality that leads to long term damage. Today, city and regional planners are focusing on making cities for everyone and public space that can be utilized by a diverse group of people. While the human population is increasing, an estimated 54.5 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban settlements. By 2030, urban areas are projected to house 60 per cent of people globally and one in every three people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants.
“Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century. Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda,” said John Wilmoth, Director of UN DESA’s Population Division.
It is essential to address the issues within cities and focus on the placement of buildings, infrastructure, and public goods. Successful urban planning requires attention to urban settlements of all sizes. If well managed, cities offer important opportunities for economic development and for expanding access to basic services, including health care and education, for large numbers of people. Providing public transportation, as well as housing, electricity, water and sanitation for a densely settled urban population is typically cheaper and less environmentally damaging than providing a similar level of services to a dispersed rural population.
Population loss has many root factors and this can be challenging because many are culturally driven and difficult to address. I feel that this issue can reflect Columbus because there are many new renovations and construction taking place downtown.