Delhi has been the focus of the socio-economic and political activities in India. The National Capital Region of Delhi (NCR) is the 6th largest urban area in the world with a population of about 16.5 million people. As India’s capital city, the pressures on Delhi’s ecosystem are unparalleled to other Indian cities, with urbanisation taking place at a rapid pace, and exerting tremendous pressure on the city’s physical infrastructure and resources. A critical reform is necessary, within the existing policies, in order to ensure integration of environmental justice, sustainability & resilience within our current social, economic and political framework, and to build a more sustainable future.
New Delhi’s city vision for 2030, as part of the Future Lifestyles project, was designed through a participatory approach, which involved detailed conversations with participants from our workshops and the household experiment on reimagining the city. We explored what participants would retain or increase from the city as it is today and what they would want to see changed by 2030. Broadly, participants echoed our sentiment that building a sustainable New Delhi would involve a three-pronged approach – (i) individual changes in lifestyle of residents, (ii) collective action through community engagement, and (iii) systemic policy-level and governmental changes through advocacy.
What Would Be Retained?
The participatory process confirmed that citizens feel a strong connection with the city’s rich cultural and ecological heritage, which includes several heritage sites, monuments, green spaces, and city forests. They also associate the city with community markets and places for neighbourhoods to gather, particularly during festivals, and in outdoor spaces of different kinds for leisure activities. They also believe that strong collective action, with a participatory approach is essential in building a more sustainable future for the city of New Delhi. Citizens have highlighted the importance of changing the current mindset and narrative around sustainable day-day practices, particularly related to the individual households and communities. They argue for a strong citizen-state participatory model, focussed on highlighting the work of local ‘green champions’ or environmental stewards, rather than shaming and name calling them.
Currently, it can be observed that housing, mobility, and food domains are responsible for the majority of New Delhi’s overall carbon footprint generation. Based on our calculations of dynamic projections for 2030, these numbers are projected to increase to 791 KgCo2, 991 KgCo2, and 889 KgCo2 per capita per year, respectively. In order to achieve our goal of reducing the city’s current carbon footprint at 2.8ton/cap/yr to 0.6ton/cap/yr, substantial lifestyle changes in the housing, food and mobility domains would be required. Our short puzzle game exercise highlighted a total of 14 options across each domain that would help in facilitating this change. As evident from Figure 2. above, substantial changes in lifestyle carbon footprint can be seen in the Food, Mobility and Housing Domain, with a potential of reducing footprint by 300 – 700 kgco2/cap/yr in 2030.
- Based on the workshop participants’ discussion, lifestyle change options by 2030 are selected with expected adoption rates. These options can substantially reduce lifestyle carbon footprint by -2.2 t-CO2e/capita (from 2.8 to 0.6 t-CO2e/capita).
- Among major consumption domains, substantial footprint reductions are expected in food (-68%), goods (-52.2%), leisure (-50.6%) domains, while housing (-47.3%), and mobility (-24.3%) domains are relatively difficult to reduce carbon footprint.
- The lifestyle changes are expected to generate various co-benefits such as reduced expenditure on consumption, reduced stress levels, healthier lifestyle etc.
- Most feasible Lifestyle Options undertaken by citizens have been showcased below:
Key Recommendations to Facilitate Lifestyle Changes in New Delhi
Food Domain :
- Governments should invest in sustainable agriculture and organic farming. Incentivise organic farming for local farmers, and open up small scale organic markets for local consumers.
- Businesses should make products more accessible and affordable & participate in community markets, promote organic and vegan products at affordable rates.
- Governments need to invest in E-buses. Increase frequency of public buses and metro coaches through a better, more well connected network.
- Adequate facilities for safety and well being of passengers (particularly women, elderly and disabled).
- Build more cycle stands in markets/shops/colonies with support from RWAs and local municipalities
- Build infrastructure for cycle friendly roads
- Businesses should promote carpooling/ride sharing to work. Also promote usage of public transport to work (No car days, teleworking on certain days, etc.)
- Infrastructure development for alternate forms of construction materials (reused wood, glass, bamboo)
- Incentivise installation of rooftop solar infrastructure at affordable rates
- Build sustainable architecture/design incubation/learning centres to promote sustainable architecture and green building.