Why sustainable cities are hitting a wall

“Why sustainable cities are hitting a wall”

The fly in our sustainable cities soup is that the world’s leading cities stand at the epicenter of economic and many other forms of inequality. Consider these worsening trends:

  • Many urban areas in the U.S. and elsewhere are resegregating as wealthy and largely white people wall themselves off from adjacent neighborhoods to be among people like themselves.
  • Rising housing prices have stymied the ability of aspiring homeowners and renters from living closer to their places of work.
  • Suburbs, once the land of opportunity for aspiring middle classes, have declined as regions for economic growth, opportunity and stability. The number of poor people living in suburbs rose faster than in cities during the past decade.
  • Exposure to pollution disproportionately affects people of color and lower incomes.

Connecting these developments are two factors. The disappearing middle class, from 1970 to 2012, the share of American families living in middle-class neighborhoods declined from 65 to 40 percent; and the hyper-concentration of wealth in increasingly fewer areas.


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