Since 1987 and the release of the Bruntland Report on sustainable development, concerns over climate change, biodiversity and other global threats have grown, and urbanization is at the core of this global anxiety. The world’s urban population, as recorded by the UN, has now reached 4.2 billion, or 55 percent of the total population, and is expected to grow an additional 2.5 billion by 2050. This tremendous urban population will consume considerable resources and emit about 75 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. Cities are a major factor of unsustainability at the same time cities and urban dwellers increasingly suffer from global environmental changes. Gulf cities are no exception to these problems. Record breaking temperatures in Kuwait in 2016 highlighted the unbearable summer heat Gulf cities are facing and will have to cope with. Sea level rise or extreme rainy events may also affect the future of cities in this region.
At the same time, governments, international organizations and urban authorities insist that if cities are both the cause and victims of global threats, they can also be the solution. Hence, cities have to be the place for implementing solutions, and policies have to be designed at the city level. These policies must both reduce the urban environmental footprint and unleash the resilience of cities.