The Big Green Apple enhancing its livability

What is a livability city? A livable city is a city that provides ‘quality of life’ as experienced by its residents. However, cities are facing increased challenges from rising household consumption, rising demand for urban services, depletion of natural resources, increasing levels of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and increasing vulnerability to natural disasters and risks from climate change. As such, the livability of many cities around the world is declining due to pollution, shortage of public open spaces and inadequate urban and social services.

In response, many local governments have endorsed integrated approaches to increasing the livability of cities where aspects of land-use, mobility, water use and energy consumption are managed in a coordinated manner and stakeholders work together to achieve socioeconomic goals of their city.

The Big Green Apple enhancing its livability

In New York City, livability is considered the sum of various elements that add up to a community’s quality of life, including the built and natural environments, social stability and equity, economic prosperity, educational and cultural opportunity. Under One New York City (OneNYC) – the Mayor’s plan for growth, sustainability, resiliency and equity – if NYC is to become a livable city that grows and thrives then the city must ensure that its growing neighborhoods are livable neighborhoods.

The Big Green Apple enhancing its livability

The Big Green Apple enhancing its livability

OneNYC’S green infrastructure enhancing livability

As part of OneNYC, NYC is expanding its use of green infrastructure to mitigate the risks of storms, reduce stormwater runoff pollution as well as enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will work with other public agencies to institutionalize stormwater management into the design of public property, including streets, parks, schoolyards and public housing. The city is also implementing its NYC Green Infrastructure Program, including the installation of curbside garden bioswales and green infrastructure elements in parks, schoolyards and public housing, to manage one inch of rainfall on 10% of the city served by the combined sewer system by 2030. DEP is also using green infrastructure to alleviate flooding risks in Southeast Queens, an area that is home to over 400,000 residents and has more flooding and sewer backup complaints than any other part of the city; with some neighborhoods experiencing recurring flooding. To date, NYC has broken ground on 3,400 green infrastructure project since 2011, with 500 green infrastructure projects already having been completed and an additional 2,900 in construction across the city.

The take-out

A livable city is one that is comprised of livable neighborhoods.

*Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley). Urban Water Security argues that, with climate change and rapid urbanization, cities need to transition from supply-side to demand-side management to achieve urban water security.

Facebook: UrbanH20


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