According to the UN estimations, in the year 2030 as much as 60 per cent of global population will be living in cities. Although towns occupy merely 3 per cent of the Earth’s surface, they are responsible for as much as 75 per cent of carbon emission to the atmosphere. “Urban Day” in the Polish Pavilion at COP24 summit in Katowice tried to tackle this problem.
Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Investment and Economic Development of Poland, Rev. Witold Kania, PhD, lecturer at the Theological Faculty of the University of Silesia and Jan Bondaruk, PhD, Deputy Director for Environmental Engineering, Central Mining Institute (the discussion’s moderator) were some of the Saturday’s speakers.
The discussion participants stressed that the expansion of urban centres and establishment of so called megacities, particularly in the developing countries, entails a range of social and economic problems. Over 820 million people live today in slums and even the richest metropolises find it increasingly hard to provide their inhabitants with proper health care service, education and transportation. On the other hand, social and economic potential of a given country accumulates in the cities. Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak underscored that in order to release it, we must follow the policy of sustainable development. She named activities undertaken by the government, such as the idea of electromobility, which aim at removing or mitigating negative effects of urbanisation.
“Smog has become a real nightmare for the inhabitants of the largest urban centres. Investments in low carbon transport allow us to influence the comfort of their daily lives,” she said.
Jan Bondaruk focused on the example of Katowice. The host city of COP24 has implemented “Black to Green” project, which gradually changes the city’s character. The town, previously associated with heavy industry and mining, has been turning into an environmentally friendly hub, investing in new technologies frequently based on public-private partnership (PPP).
“Old coal mining sites have been incorporated into Katowice urban fabric. It proves that the tradition of the region may become a source of a new energy and a catalyst for change,” Jan Bondaruk said.
He underlined that in modern metropolises, the idea of “green policy”, which postulates engagement in thermo-modernisation of buildings, creating new green squares and parks as well as promotion of low carbon public transport, is not an exception, but a rule.
Rev. Witold Kania, PhD, pointed out, on behalf of Archbishop Wiktor Skworc, to the social dimension of cities. He paid attention to the role of family bonds and the need to organise local communities efficiently. “Silesia shows us that it is possible to reconcile modernity and tradition, to set new targets, while still remembering the legacy of previous generations,” he said.
Polish Pavilion is a special zone at COP24 devoted to the promotion of Polish institutions and enterprises from the energy and environment protection sectors, providing a platform for sharing ideas and opinions between experts, scientists and representatives of industry organisations.
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