IDFC Institute recently hosted a private Conversation with Prof. Luis Bettencourt, Professor at the University of Chicago, for a discussion on "An Emerging Science and Cities, and its Significance to Sustainable Development". Prof. Luis Bettencourt is the Pritzker Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago.
During the discussion, he made a case for sustainable urbanisation in India. He presented broad trends in urbanisation across countries and the relationship with different parameters such as GDP and HDI. With some exceptions (example Brazil), we generally see that countries with high urbanisation rates have higher GDP. India is on this trajectory but its path in the future will depend on how it successfully deals with urbanisation.
Population projections for the largest cities in the 21st century show that Mumbai is growing and will continue to grow. It needs planning for infrastructure that is inclusive in nature, focusing on the needs of poor communities. Technologies like GIS could help in the process by enabling households to map their neighbourhoods and status of infrastructure/ connectivity. This inclusive planning is needed for India if the forces of urbanisation are to be harnessed for the growth of the country.
Prof. Luis Bettencourt is the Pritzker Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago. Professor Bettencourt is a leading researcher in urban science and has worked extensively on cities and urbanisation. His research emphasises the creation of new interdisciplinary synthesis to describe cities in quantitative and predictive ways, informed by the growing availability of empirical data worldwide. His research interests also include the modelling of innovation and sustainability in developing human societies, the dynamics of infectious diseases and aspects of general information processing in complex systems. Professor's work has identified several general properties of cities in terms of their built up space, infrastructure networks, innovation, economic productivity and energy use.