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With the rapid pace of urbanization in Australia that took place since the 1950s, newer problems came up for policymakers and researchers alike regarding the pace of the urbanization process and its consequences. Between 1920 and 1970 the proportion of the urban population of Australia grew from 50% to almost 80% of the total population. In the city of Melbourne alone, the population grew by almost 2 million (Dale & Robinson, 2012). This increase in urban population, backed by a parallel increase in the density of urban housing and infrastructure, started creating problems of sustainability in terms of sewerage, green cover, flora and fauna variety, etc. However, the problem was brought gradually under control by the 1990s as a result of policymakers adopting sustainable and environment-friendly policies in collaboration with researchers (Salazar & Walker, 2011). Thus, Melbourne offers an interesting case study regarding the dynamics of sustainable urban development, and this report analyzes such a case study in the city and the issue (Bulkeleley & Betsill, 2005).
Urban sustainability is the concept that urban agglomerations can be ideally very sustainable in the environmental and ecological sense of having a minimum or positive impact on the environment and surroundings. Cities, like businesses, can have lots of adverse impact on the environment in the form of pollution and wastage (Dale & Robinson, 2012). A city has lots of air pollution and noise pollution due to the activities of humans, such as greenhouse gases and Carbon monoxide emitted by household appliances and vehicles running on fossil fuels. Furthermore, the human effluents and waste such as sewage and garbage also have an adverse impact on the ecology and the environment. Urban sustainability refers to actions, policies, legal frameworks and inter-agency cooperation that aims to minimize these impacts while at the same time not affecting the quality of human life in the city or the economy (Willard, 2013).
Linked to the concept of urban sustainability is that of the 'sustainable city'. Generally, developmental scientists and urban developers agree that a sustainable city should be able to meet the material requirements of the present generation without sacrificing the ability of future generations to provide for their own needs (Newman & Kenworthy, 1999). Thus, the concept of urban sustainability is closely linked to that of general sustainable development in the ecological sense. The ambiguity within this idea leads to a great deal of variation in terms of how cities carry out their attempts to become sustainable (Fitzgerald, 2010).
Urban sustainability aims to raise the quality of life for the human population living in the city. The minimum requirement for urban sustainability is that the population's food requirements should be met with minimum import and maximum self-sufficiency. Furthermore, it should be able to power itself with renewable sources of energy (Wheeler & Beatley, 2014). A sustainable city is also one that aims to use energy and other resources efficiently and reduce its 'ecological footprints' and 'carbon footprints' via reduced pollution. However, it is a misconception that urban sustainability is dependent upon a reduction in the urban population or a slow death of urbanization (Randolph & Masters, 2008). Rather, proponents of urban sustainability recognize that humans are social creatures and that urban spaces ensure a high degree of social collaboration and cooperation that can bring about more sustainable development. Finally, proponents of urban sustainable development actually argue in favour of more urbanization as cities have less impact on the environment due to the pooling of resources such as rapid transit transportation systems, which reduce fuel usage (Blewitt, 2012).
Melbourne has often been described as one of the top 5 most livable cities in the world, and part of this reputation is because it is considered to have the lowest levels of air, water, and noise pollution as well as a high degree of urban sustainability. Initially, Melbourne was one of the poorer cities in Australia with a lot of industrial activity that led to much congestion and pollution (Doppelt, 2008). The rapid urbanization in Australia since the 1920s onwards disproportionately affected Melbourne because of more job opportunities in Melbourne, most of the rural population migrated to it. This resulted in a situation where the population almost doubled from 2 million in the 1950s to 4.5 million by the late 1990s, making Melbourne the second-largest city in Australia (Purvis & Grainger, 2013). However, Melbourne also possesses some natural assets that assisted its process of sustainable urban development. The presence of the sea, as well as Melbourne's location on a natural bay, assisted the process as the city corporation did not have to dump all the human waste effluents and garbage in urban landfills (Baker, 2008).
However, several other factors have influenced Melbourne's sustainable urban development, most of them being related to the active cooperation and willingness of local authorities to create systems of public transportation that uses minimum fossil fuels and transports the maximum number of passengers.