This post also appears on TheCityFix.com.
Indian cities are urbanizing at an unprecedented scale and pace. Over the next few decades, India’s urban population is expected to increase significantly, from 377 million in 2011 to 590 million by 2030.
The problem is that the country’s existing urban transport infrastructure is already over-capacity. This fact–coupled with the alarmingly high rate of traffic fatalities, increasing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, congestion, and urban sprawl–has created a sense of urgency to improve the quality of life in our cities now for the benefit of future generations.
Against this backdrop, WRI’s Center for Sustainable Transport in India (EMBARQ India), in collaboration with the Brihanmumbai Electrical Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST), held its first annual CONNECTKaro conference last week. The theme was two-fold: first, to “CONNECT” sustainable urban transport to urban development, and second, “Karo,” a Hindi word meaning to “do it”–to make it happen. Scaling sustainable transport and integrating it with land-use development is essential so that Indian cities remain dynamic engines of economic growth, whilst providing a high quality of life for residents.
The conference was a major success, attended by more than 220 people representing public transport authorities, government planning agencies, civil society organizations, private corporations, media, and academia. Additionally, more than 2,100 people watched the conference sessions via live webcast.
Through a dozen sessions spanning two days, conference participants discussed in detail how to scale and replicate a variety of sustainable urban transport and development solutions in Indian cities. Five key messages emerged from their deliberations: