The three-day conference of BRICS on ‘Urban Transition’ ended in the port city here this evening with the member countries stressing on the need to ensure an “urban renaissance” to stimulate economic growth and enable decent living for all.
Urban policy-makers and experts from BRICS nations unanimously called for augmenting the capacities of cities to promote effective urban planning and management with wider participation of citizens in urban affairs.
Placing water and sanitation management in urban areas among the most daunting challenges in the context of rapid urbanisation, BRICS countries have called for a ‘zero waste’ policy through reuse and recycling in a focused manner.
They stressed on the need to step up the capacities of cities in ensuring such zero waste approach.
Noting that only one per cent of readily-usable water was available for mankind, with 97 per cent being in seas and 2 per cent locked up in deep aquifers, N A Buthelegi of South Africa called for adoption of appropriate technologies and response mechanisms to meet the water needs of people.
A holistic approach to water management was essential, given the linkages with various other utilities, she said.
In South Africa, 15,000 water ambassadors were being utilised to educate people about proper water use, Buthelegi added.
China showcased the city of Shenzen where only six per cent of municipal solid waste is being dumped in the open while 2.10 lakh tonnes of it is being used daily to generate 4,300 MW of electricity.
Tamil Nadu Revenue Secretary B Chandra Mohan said Chennai was a leading example of resilience in water management, it being the first city in the country to set up a desalination plant enabling use of 200 million litres of sea water per day.
“Rain water harvesting is ensured in all the buildings in the city to meet water needs of citizens. The Tamil Nadu government is taking measures to supply 240 million litres of treated reusable water daily to industrial units which could give more revenues than the income from supply of regular water,” he said.
In another plenary session on ‘New Towns and Regional Planning’, the experts called for developing new urban habitations based on sound economic logic so that the inhabitants of such new locations are not pushed into “poverty traps”.
Experts from Brazil, China, India and South Africa voiced concern over “unplanned and unanticipated” urban expansion resulting in social and economic inequalities.
They called for “extended urbanism” based on the principle of effective regional planning.
South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Settlements, Zou-Kota Fredericks, while expressing concern over the growing slums and informal settlements called for ensuring livable and sustainable human settlements in urban areas.