Sustainability, however, is hard to attain in urban areas, where cities with high population density equate to large production of wastes and rapid consumption of natural resources. One of the most pressing problems facing urban planners today is how to create sustainable urban communities and to bring existing non-sustainable communities to the path of sustainability. Some of the potential avenues toward solving the issue of sustainability are creating a new city that is similar to a town in walkability and closed-loop metabolism, but a global one, because of the use of technology and modern networks in attaining its sustainability goals; understanding the unique strengths and constraints of every urban community for urban planning/redesign; and incorporating ecological concepts and principles in how urban communities are perceived, which require collaboration across all main stakeholders, including the government, the business community, citizens, and other related professionals.
The historical roots of these problems on sustainability are the vast industrialization across the world during the past centuries and the free-market philosophy of liberal economics and capitalism that disregard sustainability principles. Industrialization, since the eighteenth century up to now (as it goes in more in developing countries), has resulted to widespread exploitation of natural resources and workers alike (WCED 354). As the Brundtland report summarizes: “Thus today’s environmental challenges arise both from the lack of development and from the unintended consequences of some forms of economic growth” (WCED 354). In urban design, it means converting agricultural areas to manufacturing/commercial/residential/entertainment sites and creating high-rise cities where population is more compact and where resources are swiftly consumed.