around the world a travel log

Oslo, norway

Our journey begins here, in one of the rare places with a balance between nature and urban life. Oslo offers many opportunities: a stunning opera house, impressive art museums, beautiful parks, and various bars, cafés, and restaurants. Throw in the clean, tidy, and overall environmentally friendly community, and you’ve got a culturally rich and sustainable city.

Helsinki, Finland

The most populated city in Finland, and 2012 World Design Capital, Helsinki is bursting with countless galleries, boutiques, museums, and even saunas. A design scene like no other resides here, along with a gorgeous coastline filled with numerous islands. EIU ranked Helsinki as one of the top 10 most livable cities, with a high QOL, long-term vision, and ever present innovation, all signs of a sustainable city.

moscow, russia

Moscow, the cold capital of Russia. Moscow has some of the world's greatest architecture as can be seen from the Kremlin the command center of Russia. Moscow has many attractions that make it unique such as theaters, museums (which help you understand its rich history), stadiums and art museums. Moscow has been the center of many political scandals in Russia as it is the capital, this often dominates the news landscape in Russia. Moscow also has a very strong economy it makes up ⅕ of the Russian economy, Moscow is also the financial capital of Russia and economy is build up on industry. Moscow air pollution soars and thus contributing to global warming and an increase of risk lung diseases. Moscow has to improve air quality to become sustainable.

st. petersburg, russia

Saint Petersburg, the former capital of Russia and is Russia’s major port city. All throughout Russia’s history, Saint Petersburg played an important role as it contains the winter palace, the former palace of the Tsars of Russia. Saint Petersburg is often referred to Russia most westernized city and its cultural capital as it was the former imperial capital and has one of the world's largest art museums, The Hermitage and contains a plentitude of cultural sites and historic buildings. As Saint Petersburg is a port city it plays an important role for trade and is a major financial and industrial centre for Russia, often trading oil and gas. Saint Petersburg is probably one of the most polluted cities in Russia and the world. Saint Petersburg like so many cities is right on the verge of becoming sustainable.

copenhagen, denmark

As I walk among the cold winter streets of Copenhagen, I can’t stop but imagine the natural beauty of the city, Copenhagen has maintained the balance between Economy, Society and Environment to make it sustainable. Copenhagen is one of the major economic and financial communities in Denmark, many major business in Denmark have their head office here. I also found the people here are also happy and nice, as they have no trouble helping me find my way through the city.

paris, france

I take a sip of my latte while looking at the Eiffel Tower shining its’ beautiful lights and think why don’t I do this more often. Paris is referred to the city of lights and it’s called because of it playing a major role in the age of enlightenment. Today, much of its rich history and enlightened culture can be seen through various landmarks, museums and art galleries as well as its theaters and restaurants. Paris economy is also largely build up from services and commerce, and GDP ranks second among regions of Europe. However, air pollution in Paris has received some of the highest air pollution surges in the last few decades and this air pollution can be blamed mostly due to a number of cars on the road in Paris. Paris needs to be cleaner in order to become sustainable.

marseille, france

I enjoy the beautiful out look of the Mediterranean Sea as I walk on the Marseilles beaches. Marseille is the beautiful third largest city in France that sits on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This is an important city for France economically speaking as it has a port which is often used for trade. Marseille also has experienced a high growth in the high-tech economy. Marseille has many attractions like its theaters, unique cuisine, festivals, and beaches. Marseille climate is Mediterranean (mild humid winters and warm to hot dry summers) much like the rest of cities near the Mediterranean and Marseille has done many environmental sustainability projects like ensuring the cleanliness of its waters and implementing eco-friendly ways to get around. Still, Marseille has to reduce its CO2 emissions but can be considered sustainable.

london, United Kingdom

As I started to head back to my apartment it started to rain again, besides the consist rain I experienced on my trip so far, it is an amazing place. London is a large “cultured” city with a rich history and strong economy. In the business world, London is a powerful and influential city as it is often one of the command centers for the global economy. London also has many attractions and cultural sites like the palace of Westminster and Buckingham palace and has many people visit for its rich history and economically speaking London is often like a bridge between Asian and US markets considering its time zone. However London air quality has been reduced greatly, in fact, its Air Pollution has passed being levels and London has now been succumbing to massive smog clouds. All of this is inducing health issues to the people of London. London must improve its environment before it becomes sustainable.

glasgow, united kingdom

The capital of Scotland, Glasgow is often overseen by the larger cities of London, Manchester, and Edinburgh but even though it's overrun by those cities Glasgow is an amazing place full of exciting things to do, you can visit its many theatres and galleries or its great libraries which contain some of the oldest photographs, newspapers, and books are known to Europe. Glasgow's economy is the largest economic driver in Scotland and third, for the UK, its economy used to be built upon manufacturing, but over the years manufacturing in Glasgow has been greatly reduced and today it's built upon business, biomedical and creative industries sectors. While Glasgow is an amazing place its air quality is one of the worst in the UK. Glasgow is right on the verge of becoming sustainable, only if it can keep its environment clean.

zurich, switzerland

Zurich, the largest city of Switzerland, despite having a small population Zurich is a leading global city and among the world’s financial centres as it is home to many financial and banking giants. Zurich is also very culturally alive, contains many festivals, theaters,ballets and night clubs. Zurich also hosts the world famous street parade. Zurich is one of the most eco-friendly city and air quality is among the best in Europe. There is no doubt about that Zurich is a sustainable city.

rome, italy

An ancient city, deeply entwined with the history of Italy itself. World-class museums, filled to the brim with artistic masterpieces, the looming Colosseum, and Vatican City, the world’s only example of a country within a city. A glimpse at the past isn’t all this city has to offer, with hundreds of places to eat, whether you want to stick it out in a hole-in-the-wall café or one of the pizzerias is up to you. With high population density, the people of Rome use up less resources, which gives a higher basis for sustainability. Air pollution however, is still a problem, as is garbage disposal and general cleanliness.

athens, greece

Perhaps one of the most historic cities in the world, Athens has continuously been inhabited by humans since 3000 BC. Acropolis, the age-old citadel known as one of the UNESCO world heritage sites is just one of the many landmarks to be seen. With many museums, restaurants, shops, and hotels there’s lots to explore. Yet even the ancients aren’t immune to humanity’s destructive actions, with exhaust from diesel vehicles polluting the air, billions of dollars owed in debt, the city is still a step away from being ideal.

new delhi, india

A mesh of old and new, Delhi was nothing short of a vibrant yet multidimensional experience. Featuring mouth-watering cuisine, captivating monuments, and an energetic performing-arts scene, this metropolis is a must-see. However, in November 2016, parts of the city recorded AQI levels that were beyond hazardous.. the city’s future looms much like the constant shroud of smog in the air.

beijing, china

The capital of China is home to numerous feats of architecture, from the Great Wall of China, Temple of Heaven, Galaxy Soho, and much more. Historically, the city has 6 UNESCO world heritage sites, and is the gathering place of the nation’s top musicians, filmmakers, artists, chefs, and writers. When it comes to sustainability however, there are many problems. Often days, the amount of pollution in the air forces citizens to wear heavy duty face masks to protect themselves from breathing in the smog. Not to mention the rising water pollution issues, stemming from industrial waste. Overpopulation, and the massive increase in housing prices aren’t quite signs of a stable economy, and overall Beijing has much to do with regards to becoming sustainable.

tokyo, japan

Future host of the 2020 Summer Olympics, known to be one of the safest, clean, most livable, but also expensive cities around the globe, Tokyo is constantly reinventing itself. Whether it’s a taste of the native cuisine, a walk through nature, a shopping spree in a busy mall, or just some time to immerse yourself in Japanese pop culture, Tokyo has it all. A 21st century city that retains its’ traditional roots, ancient shrines standing alongside massive skyscrapers. Has it been mentioned that Tokyo has the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world? This metropolis is definitely an example of a sustainable city, with a stable economy, clean environment, and a society aware of its' effects on the environment.

hong kong, china

Boasting one of the most iconic skylines in the world, Hong Kong is surprisingly culturally diverse. Once a British colony, the city now has influences of French, Japanese, Chinese, and Cantonese. With cuisine to die for, an endless marketplace full of bazaars, boutiques, and malls you’ll be always on your feet. Ferry rides to offshore islands, a day trekking through the mountains, or just a stroll through a park, nature has found its’ place in this city. Hong Kong actually took second on a list of Asia’s most sustainable cities. Although held back by environmental factors, such as pollution, and unsteady housing prices, the city is a major financial centre, and with a great transportation system too.

seoul, south korea

The capital that over half of all South Koreans call home, Seoul is a contemporary, yet intrinsically traditional city, preserving the best of past and present. With a brilliant subway system, it’s easy to visit all the plazas, parks, museums, and temples the metropolis has to offer. However it has often been said that the true soul of Seoul lies in its’ food. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack, or a multicourse feast, there are plenty of options at any given day or time... a street food vendor right around the corner, the bustling fish and meat markets, or the restaurant down the block. Although ranked first in the ARCADIS Sustainable Cities Index, that’s not to say there are no pollution problems at all, only that they are relatively minor.

jakarta, indonesia

A vast, sprawling metropolis; every corner brings contrast, a mixing of various cultures. From the looming skyscrapers, rickety food stalls, awe-inspiring museums, Jakarta represents every facet of a fast-paced urban lifestyle. Although the government here has cracked down on pollution in years past, the city’s growth has lead to many problems with air quality.

cairo, egypt

The capital of Egypt, once in the past and currently in the future, Cairo contains the Great Pyramids of Giza and other major historical buildings like the sphinx, Egyptian temples, and ottoman mosques. Cairo generates 22% of Egypt's economy. Cairo however has some of the worst air pollution on the Earth and we all know what air pollution does to the world and people.

rabat, morocco

Morocco’s capital, Rabat is also its’ political and administrative center. With awe-inspiring scenery all around, a relaxing beach, and many museums, there’s nothing not to like. Tourism and foreign embassies serve to make Rabat one of the most important cities in the country. Morocco’s attention to sustainable tourism helps to keep Rabat pollution-free, and sustainable.

Brasília, brazil

Brasília was a planned city, founded in 1960 to shift Brazil’s capital from Rio to a more central location. Designed in the shape of a bird / airplane with different sectors for commercial, residential, embassies, hotel, local commerce and more. Architecturally, and design-wise, the city is full of marvels. Air pollution is surprisingly low, however light and water pollution are both issues the city will have to face. Sustainable? Not quite, but getting there.

rio de janeiro, brazil

Famed host of the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro is watched over by its’ iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, which sits atop Corcovado mountain. The city’s status as one of the Southern hemisphere’s most popular tourist destinations is well-deserved, with picturesque landscapes, spirited celebrations, and the lifeblood of Rio, music. As a caution to any potential voyagers, the Olympic spotlight also brought attention to the many issues with the quality of water. Untreated sewage, urban runoff, and industrial wastewater are all contributing factors, and according to the Associated Press swallowing a mere 3 would likely lead to severe stomach and respiratory illnesses.

mexico city, mexico

Tenochtitlan that is the name given to capital of the Aztec Empire, but today Tenochtitlan is now the capital of Mexico and is now called Mexico City. Mexico City has a large economy, in fact, it’s the 8th richest city in the world and if it was its own country, it would have the 30th largest economy. However Mexico City has on average 478 crimes committed daily, however it is estimated to be higher, not only that but the air quality in Mexico City has rapidly become polluted and it has been said that “Mexico City's air went from one of the cleanest to among the dirtiest in the span of generations”. It did improve in the early 2000’s until more lax regulations caused the air quality to decrease. Mexico city’s attractions and cultural celebration often make you forget about these things, all in all, Mexico City is a place that is sustainable but only to a certain extent.

new york, usa

New York City, the Big Apple. Amongst the millions of people living, visiting and working in this city, I couldn’t stop to ponder at how it leads the world in so many things and how many people are actually here. This city has so many attractions to keep you occupied or amazed you may never want to leave. While some are entertained, many people are busy with their jobs at one of the many business and markets in New York. The city has a balance of the economy and society, but in terms of environmental footprint, New York falls short. New York has some of the busiest traffic in the world, and all those cars mean a lot of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Garbage is an issue as well, in 2012 New York was ranked America’s dirtiest city for the amount of trash in it. New York still like many cities in the world still has a way to go for improvement.

san francisco, usa

San Francisco. I have no words for it, it such an amazing city, it has been able to maintain the balance of a sustainable community, from its gorgeous natural landscape to Silicon Valley the leader in business and technology and has one of the Major American Pacific harbors. San Francisco also contains many attractions from its amazing beaches to its Fisherman’s Wharf, culturally San Francisco has a vibrant atmosphere of innovative but nice and beauty in it. San Francisco has achieved what it takes to be an ideal sustainable city and is definitely on my list of places to travel again.

salt lake city, usa

Salt Lake City is historically known for the economical influence of being the mining industry, as it is known as the crossroads of the west. Today it has based its economy on more service-based jobs, like business and trade. Salt Lake City also adjusted for income from seasonal tourism but is mostly build up from business and trade. Salt Lake city does have some tourist attractions and has some local festivals, but other than that there isn’t really much to do. Salt Lake City has some magnificent views and has plenty of water near it, but Salt Lake City has experienced an increase of air pollution and is now barely making by with acceptable air quality rankings. Salt Lake City has a lot it can do before it can be called sustainable.

toronto, canada

As I ponder while walk amongst the streets of downtown Toronto. I can’t help but be astonished by how kind the people here are. The city has integrated culture, economy, and society into every citizen daily lives, it managed a balance between society and economy. Toronto also has respect for the environment and is close to being eco-friendly, but still has to do more before it can achieve that goal.

montreal, canada

Montreal, the largest french speaking city in the world after Paris. This city has a proud history and culture which it greatly shows off and is the economic hub for Quebec. Montreal has so many attractions you can visit as the city literally combines history with the modern world and has the best thing of all, Poutine! The city is Eco-friendly as well but like Toronto still has to do major things to become an ideal green city, especially since Montreal dumped over 8 Billion Litres of sewage into the St. Lawrence river.

vancouver, canada

Vancouver is one of the top Eco-Friendly cities in the world, and I can see why this city surrounded by mountains and the coast has become a green city leader. 99% of the city is powered by renewable energy sources and has that cultural integration feel I felt when I visited Toronto and Montreal, and Vancouver is one of the largest economic hubs of Canada, most likely due to the fact that Vancouver is the entrance to Pacific ocean in Canada. Vancouver is a sustainable city finding the right balance of Economy, Environment, and Society, all while keeping the amazing view.

sydney, australia

Sydney, The largest city in Australia, apart from the magnificent views it gets from the blue mountains to the Pacific ocean, Sydney is an amazing city. Sydney is home to many many sports stadiums, theaters, art galleries and the Sydney Opera House where Opera Australia and the Sydney Symphony often perform. Sydney’s economy is mostly build up from trading, manufacturing, and finance. While Sydney is a beautiful city, air pollution is becoming more and more of a problem for the people of Sydney. But this isn’t going to stop Sydney from becoming one of the most sustainable cities in the world.

suva, fiji

The largest city in the South Pacific, Fiji’s capital is quite culturally diverse. The lush scenery, convenient location —Suva is Fiji’s political and administrative centre— attracts lots of students and expats. The cultural diversity shines through downtown, where you can find an abundance of restaurants, plazas, and small shops. Pollution is generally kept to a minimum, and preservation of the natural scenery makes being environmentally friendly a must.

Closing Remarks

Many communities around the world are sustainable to a certain extent, their geography allows people to settle at these locations. However, some cities around the world often aren’t sustainable, while others are. How can this be? In order to answer that question, we must take a look at what makes a community sustainable.

The 2005 World Summit on Social Development identified the three pillars of sustainability as; Economic (which is constrained by both) Social (which is constrained by) and Environmental. This makes sense as the environment you're living in must be clean and have plenty of resources for you, and your community to survive. This can then allow you to build a society which creates rules and laws, that ensure the safety and well being of everyone. Also, this constrains the economy which allows the community to gain resources and pursuit in economically pursuits like trade and resource development.

The environment is the most important out of all of the three pillars of sustainability. This is because you need enough resources (food, water and shelter) to sustain your community. An ideal climate is also fundamental to make sure that the basic needs of survival are fulfilled. Ensure that the land stays fertile, and that there is enough land to allow humans and nature to coexist harmoniously. Again, a pollutant free environment is the most crucial pillar of sustainability as the other two pillars can not sustain a community without it.

Society is the second most important pillar, as it ensures the safety, reliability, laws and regulations, and the social order of the community. People must follow laws, rules and regulations to make sure others in the community are safe. If these laws are broken, the person who broke them will have to face the consequences. The social order can be broken. For example, war often causes people to live in their old homes rather than a place that's more stable and safe.

Economy being the last pillar of sustainability, is the “power” of a community. The economy helps provide people with money to buy objects both of value and need. This money can be earned by working in a career, which in a way, makes sure projects in a community get accomplished. All of this, increases the wealth of a community thus allowing more projects to be done, leaving us with an endless cycle. Money isn’t essential for survival and this is why economy is the last pillar of sustainability. Without a clean environment, there would be a lack of resources leading to the extinction of plants, humans and animals. If social order didn’t exist, humans would probably end up fighting each other for resources, which would also lead to the downfall of a community.

As humanity progresses, we can expect that the sustainable cities of the future have set even higher standards than the ones we currently have. After all, with more advanced technology and new discoveries, what we consider as a sustainable city today, could be the city facing a downfall tomorrow.

Environmentally-wise, we should be trying to stave off of using fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources, as well as reducing the amount of waste from industry. Ideally, a city should be able to run solely on green energy, and with solar, wind, and hydro power, this will likely be a reality. Since waste disposal is often the root of many pollution problems, there should be a set system that includes proper sewage drains, with monitored and controlled industrial wastewater. Air pollution is generally a major problem in cities where the majority of the population drives a vehicle, or an area with a large amount of factories. To cut down on car exhaust, a well functioning public transport system should be put into place, and restrictions imposed on factories.

Society as we are right now is decently aware about the effects of human activity on our surrounding environment. Global warming remains an issue at hand, as do environmental degradation, desertification, and resource depletion. However, we should be prioritizing the environment over letting large corporations make a profit, and campaign to get the government to do the same.

Regarding economy, the cities of the future should look towards have self-sustained economies, without relying too heavily on underpriced labour from other countries, although it may keep prices down, in the end one side will always lose out. Prices for food, water, and gas should be kept reasonable, and to ensure affordable housing for everyone, the market should be carefully monitored.

Sources: Unaids & CMSdata

Created By
Steph & Aidan X


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