Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Richard Branson Presents Sustainia Award for World's Most Innovative City Solution

Climate

Effective and inspirational, the redesign of Indian city Chennai wins the 2015 Sustainia Award, chaired by Arnold Schwarzenegger, for its solution to the city’s mounting air pollution and traffic casualties. The city receives the award, while experiencing incessant rainfalls, overflowing rivers and lakes are causing thousands to flee the city, stressing the importance of sustainable solutions and climate adaptation.

Richard Branson presented the Sustainia Award 2015 to the Corporation of Chennai on Dec. 6 in Paris at a COP21 side event. Photo credit: Stefanie Spear

With more than 10,000 traffic crashes reported in Chennai every year—one of the highest rates of road deaths in India—and outdoor pollution as one of the region’s top health risks, this year’s Sustainia Award Winner addresses climate, transportation and health challenges in one go.

In 2012, the City of Chennai, along with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, implemented sweeping changes to give the city’s streets back to the people. This policy solution requires that at least 60 percent of the city’s transport budget to be allocated to constructing and maintaining infrastructure for non-motorized transit, including expanded footpaths, safe pedestrian crossings, protected cycle tracks, conveniently placed bus stops and clearly designated on-street parking.

So far, Chennai has created wide and continuous footpaths on 26 streets, and work on the next 60 streets is underway. Amazingly, there have been no new cases of any road crash fatalities reported from the streets that have undergone the redesign. The city aims to have safe and continuous footpaths on at least 80 percent of its streets by 2018, and as the expansion process continues, the city is serving as a model for other Indian cities, such as Trichy and Madurai, looking to make similar improvements.

The Chennai solution addresses major challenges linked to rapid urbanization in countries across the globe. In 1990, less than 40 percent of the global population lived in a city. In 2050, the expected number will increase to 70 percent. The World Health Organization warns that urban outdoor air pollution is responsible for 1.3 million premature deaths worldwide per year and by 2050, according to the OECD, air pollution is projected to become the biggest environmental cause of mortality worldwide.  

Ted Turner was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sustainia Award Ceremony on Dec. 6 in Paris at a COP21 side event. Photo credit: Stefanie Spear

From Chennai to Paris

While our spotlight is on Chennai, another city grabbing the world’s attention this week is Paris. Together with nine other leading innovations from nine different countries, the Indian city solution presented their project on stage at the annual Sustainia Award Ceremony, an event celebrating state-of-the-art innovations across 10 sectors such as food, fashion, transportation and buildings in an effort to bridge the gap between the political negotiations and the innovations on the ground.

The award ceremony was held in Paris on Dec. 5 during the UN climate change negotiations, COP21, to send a signal to global leaders that national level policies must be supported by concrete solutions and local action. Chennai’s project proves that cities have the power to become healthier, safer and more sustainable places, and that committed local leadership can show national authorities that change is not only possible, it’s necessary for a prosperous future.

About the Sustainia Award

Sustainia Award is an annual international award given to a solution, technology or project with a significant potential to help build a more sustainable future. Through a worldwide submissions campaign, the partners behind Sustainia Award each year create a list of 100 readily available innovations to highlight that a sustainable transition is possible and already happening.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Leonardo DiCaprio: ‘Do Not Wait Another Day’ to Move to 100% Renewable Energy

Carl Pope: Cities Can Lead … Cities Want to Lead … So Let them!

Bill McKibben: ‘Paris Summit is Missing One of the Great World Leaders on Climate’ Because He’s in Prison

Climate Change Blamed for Southern India’s Worst Flooding in More Than a Century

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Deserted view of NH24 near Akshardham Temple on day nine of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus on April 2, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India is home to 21 of the world's 30 most polluted cities, but recently air pollution levels have started to drop dramatically as the second-most populated nation endures the second week of a 21-day lockdown amidst coronavirus fears, according to The Weather Channel.

Read More Show Less
A Unicef social mobilizer uses a speaker as she carries out public health awareness to prevent the spread and detect the symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus by UNICEF at Mangateen IDP camp in Juba, South Sudan on April 2. ALEX MCBRIDE / AFP / Getty Images

By Eddie Ndopu

  • South Africa is ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic in Africa.
  • Its townships are typical of high-density neighbourhoods across the continent where self-isolation will be extremely challenging.
  • The failure to eradicate extreme poverty is a threat beyond the countries in question.
Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The outside of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Md. on Nov. 9, 2015. Al Drago / CQ Roll Call

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of two malarial drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, despite only anecdotal evidence that either is proven effective in treating or slowing the progression of the disease in seriously ill patients.

Read More Show Less
Some speculate that the dissemination of the Antarctic beeches or Nothofagus moorei (seen above in Australia) dates to the time when Antarctica, Australia and South America were connected. Auscape / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

A team of scientists drilled into the ground near the South Pole to discover forest and fossils from the Cretaceous nearly 90 million years ago, which is the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
The recovery of elephant seals is one of the "signs of hope" that scientists say show the oceans can recover swiftly if we let them. NOAA / CC BY 2.0

The challenges facing the world's oceans are well known: plastic pollution could crowd out fish by 2050, and the climate crisis could wipe out coral reefs by 2100.

Read More Show Less