Designing sustainable urban settlements

  • Planning sustainable urban developments
  • Developing sustainable human settlements
  • Strengthening capacity to prepare and implement environmentally sound urban designs


This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends strengthening the capacities of local governing bodies to deal more effectively with the broad range of developmental and environmental challenges associated with rapid and sound urban growth through comprehensive approaches to planning which recognize the individual needs of cities and which are based on ecologically sound urban design practices.


Civano – Tucson Solar Village is a new development being undertaken by the City of Tucson, USA to demonstrate the marketability of sustainable community development on a large scale at affordable prices. The 330 hectare site is planned to have about 5,500 people and 2,500 homes and apartments in a wide range of prices using significantly lower natural resources than conventional homes. They will use passive solar designs to reduce energy demand. As photovoltaic (PV) electric generation and similar technologies become economical, Civano hopes to use such supply systems as grid-connected PV to provide power to the entire community.

Commercial, cultural, and civic activity will be clustered in the village centre to foster a small town ambience. It is planned that half the population and two-thirds of the jobs will be within a five minute walk of Civano's "downtown". Ideally, Civano businesses will be engaged in solar power and other renewable resource fields, and will provide jobs for some of the residents, thus reducing automobile travel. The plan aims to create one job for every two housing units, although not all jobs will be held by Civano residents.

Harvested or reclaimed water will irrigate vegetation and conserve potable water. Improved collection and disposal methods will facilitate solid waste recycling. Extensive walking and biking paths will reduce car use for internal circulation and create a more livable community. As the population grows, alternate-fuel vehicles, such as natural gas trams, are intended to support local travel with less pollution.

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