ESV Stephen O. Edremoda
All over the World and in recent times, urban renewal and smart cities development has been in the front burner and evidently leading key discussions in the global real estate development conferences, seminars and webinars. As governments all of the economies of the World keep thinking on how to provide quality living for its citizens through urban renewal and smart cities development, urban renewal policies and by extension, smart cities developments have become an important part of government development policies aimed at engendering quality living for its fast-growing population. As long as the World population keeps growing in a geometrical trend, it will take strong urban renewal policies to engender sustainable housing and urban development.
Urban renewal entails the gradual redevelopment of areas with little or no property values with the primary objective of creating new and modern infrastructures that will engender development through strong and economically viable private sector participation, and generate revenue to the government through tax payment to the government. Most government urban renewal efforts have negative implications on the existing structures; in a bid to bring in development to an area, old structures must give way for the new ones especially in the area of road construction which is a very key element of urban renewal.
Massive urbanization as driven by the high level of rural-urban migration, and the ever-increasing population density is one of the reasons for the development of smart cities and urban renewal strategies as being globally adopted by both the developed and developing economies. The rural-urban migration is happening at a very fast pace, causing both economic and social disruptions in most cities, and one of the ways to address this challenge is to embrace urban renewal and consequently come up with smart cities.
The way cities are structured and managed have far reaching impacts on safety, health, food security, social welfare and access to basic amenities of life. Adapting to climate and environmental changes are easy and better when cities are renewed and smartly planned for better habitation.
With Urban renewal and smart cities development in place, achieving the 2030 agenda as enshrined in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be a low-hanging fruit for both the developed and developing economies of the World. Clearly, most SDGs revolve around urban renewal, adoption and development of smart cities. In the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) progress report, as published by the United Nations (UN), the provision of basic services like housing was visibly featured, and the detailed report, and available statistics has it that the new urban agenda should be aggressively pursued by all stakeholders.
In Nigeria, the federal government is aggressively pursuing the achievement of the SDGs by the year 2030. Though very far from reality as shown by available statistics, the solution is in sight if continuity is ensured in the pursuance and implementation of policies geared towards achieving the SDGs.
Most states in Nigeria are equally not leaving stones unturned through carefully designed and tailor-made policies that will engender urban renewal and smart cities development. The Delta State government, for example, through its SMART agenda of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa led government has since aligned with the urban renewal and smart city agenda by adopting “Transformed Environment Through Urban Renewal” as one of its SMART agendas.
In all, the government and other stakeholders in the built environment should work towards the fast implementation of policies that will engender urban renewal both at the local and global levels. These policies should be all inclusive and encompassing to address equity and fairness.
ESV Stephen O. Edremoda, a registered Estate Surveyor and Valuer works with the Delta State Government. He sends in this piece from Asaba, Delta State.