How future cities can achieve environmental sustainability – study


A new report released by Enel, Arup, Intesa Sanpaolo Group and Future Food Institute highlights how the urban landscapes of tomorrow can achieve environmental sustainability, social inclusion and economic competitiveness.

The study looks at some projects around circular cities being deployed by Enel in domains including e-mobility, energy storage, renewables, energy efficiency, smart grids, public lighting and building management.

Cities are responsible for more than 80% of global economic output but are also the place where the global challenges are more critical.

According to the study, reimagining the cities of tomorrow in terms of a better quality of life, under a circular economy approach, represents a huge opportunity:

  • From an environmental standpoint, as the circular economy can contribute up to 45% of global decarbonisation efforts by 2050.
  • From a social point of view, the circular economy is expected to create jobs less replaceable by automation, requiring new skills and expertise. Enel and The European House estimate that circular economy created 2.5 million jobs in Europe in 2018.
  • From an economic standpoint, the competitiveness of materials and assets, alongside the use of renewable energy can secure more competitive services for citizens and lower costs for companies.

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Michele Crisostomo, Enel Group Chairman, said: “It is within cities that our society pulsates with life and evolves. Cities all differ in their architecture, culture and historical background, but were all created from our ancestors’ inclination to gather and form communities. Urbanization has sharply accelerated in recent years, as cities today are home to more than half of the world’s population and generate over 80% of global economic output, alongside all the social, economic, environmental and, as recently witnessed, health challenges.

“This is why it is key to promote in our cities economic competitiveness, social inclusion and respect for the environment, considering these objectives within a vision that brings together innovation and sustainability, and which is most effectively expressed in circular economy. The transition towards a more circular living and production is the best solution to the issues cities are facing today, and an essential step towards improving the quality of life in those of tomorrow.”

Francesco Starace, Enel Group CEO, commented: “Long before humankind could see the glow of city lights from space, Paris was called the ‘City of Lights’, which underlines the striking achievement of public lighting at that time. We have come a long way since public lighting was invented, and in our cities we use more and more energy, especially in the form of electricity, for our work and daily life.

“Electricity is, and will increasingly be the lifeblood of cities due to growing electrification. As a key power player, we want to contribute to the development of a sustainable urban vision for the future. To do so, we started by bringing together economic, social and environmental sustainability goals, taking into consideration all the sectors and elements that go into a city.

“This vision, even more urgent considering the current challenging period, is reflected in the study we are launching today and implemented across the circular city projects we are carrying out worldwide, which represent a further contribution towards a more sustainable future.”

The report is available for download.