Towards Circular Cities: A Multistakeholder Approach for India By Aayat Khan | on December 29, 2023

India is at a turning point in its urban development, where the idea of circular cities is beginning to take hold as a model for sustainable urban planning. A multistakeholder approach becomes essential in pursuing environmental conservation and resource optimisation to facilitate transformative change.

Understanding Circular Cities
Cities being the largest consumers of energy and materials, offer an opportunity to manage resources better and efficiently. With local and regional governments responsible for the most critical urban planning and governance areas, public procurement and investment budgets are the first stepping stone towards acquiring circular products and services, handling mobility and waste management. However, societies led by governments need to realise the enormous potential of circular cities and lead the transition to a circular economy.

A circular city adopts the principles of the circular economy across urban habitats by creating a sustainable system network that maximises the potential of resources and designs out of waste. This model promotes a closed-loop system where resources are conserved, reused, and recycled. From energy to materials and waste, every aspect of urban life is reimagined to reduce environmental impact while bolstering economic growth. The critical value chains that define circular cities are electronics & ICT, batteries & vehicles, packaging, plastics, textiles, construction & buildings, and food.

Key Elements of Circular Cities
1. Resource Optimisation
Efficient use of resources lies at the core of circular cities. This involves implementing smart technologies for energy management, water conservation, and waste reduction. Strategies like decentralised renewable energy systems, water recycling, and waste-to-energy initiatives can drastically reduce resource consumption and minimise environmental impact.

2. Sustainable Infrastructure
Building infrastructure that aligns with sustainability principles is crucial. Developing green buildings, promoting public transportation, and establishing pedestrian-friendly zones reduce carbon emissions, enhance overall liveability, and encourage healthier lifestyles among residents.

3. Smart Urban Planning
Rethinking urban design is crucial for fostering circular cities. Integrating green spaces, promoting mixed-use development, and implementing urban farming initiatives can transform cities into more resilient and harmonious environments. Such planning encourages community engagement and social cohesion while ensuring environmental sustainability.

Incorporating these elements into city planning are vital for India's cities to transition towards circularity. This approach conserves resources and enhances citizens' overall quality of life, thus making cities more sustainable, resilient, and conducive to a harmonious coexistence with the environment.

CITIIS 2.0: Revolutionising Urban Development
The City Investments to Innovate, Integrate, and Sustain 2.0 (CITIIS 2.0) initiative was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD), Kreditanstaltf├╝rWiederaufbau (KfW), the European Union (EU), and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), on November 16, 2023. It is a part of the Smart Cities Mission that aims to promote integrated waste management and climate-oriented reform actions.

CITIIS will consider smart city projects in the following four themes:

  • Sustainable Mobility
  • Public Open Spaces
  • Urban E-governance and ICT
  • Social and Organisational Innovation for Low-Income Settlements.

Major Components of CITIIS 2.0 
The CITIIS 2.0 programme, comprising three major components, will run for four years, from 2023 to 2027.

1. Financial and technical support for developing projects focused on building climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation in up to 18 smart cities. These projects will promote the circular economy principles, specifically emphasising integrated waste management.

2. Support for all states and union territories (UTS) upon demand. This includes setting up or strengthening State climate centres/climate cells, creating State and city-level climate data observatories, facilitating climate-data-driven planning, developing climate action plans, and building capacities of municipal functionaries. The Programme Management Unit (PMU) at NIUA will coordinate technical assistance and support to the State governments.

3. Interventions at the Central, State, and city levels to enhance climate governance in urban India. This component involves institutional strengthening, knowledge dissemination, partnerships, capacity building, research and development, and supporting scale-up across States and cities.

CITIIS 2.0 aligns with the climate actions undertaken by the Government of India through national programmes such as the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, AMRUT 2.0, the Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0, and the Smart Cities Mission. Additionally, it will contribute to India's Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and commitments under the Conference of the Parties (COP26).

In embracing the concept of circular cities, India is on a transformative path toward sustainable urbanisation. The nation will pave the way for resilient, resource-efficient urban landscapes through a comprehensive approach under CITIIS 2.0, integrating circular economy principles, smart city projects, and climate-centric initiatives. This concerted effort aligns with national sustainability goals and heralds a promising era of environmentally conscious and vibrant cities for generations to come.

The vision of CITIIS 2.0 will be further shared during panel discussions at the 9th Smart Cities India & 31st Convergence India expo from 17-19 January 2024 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Join distinguished speakers such as Mr. Naim Keruwala, Programme Director, CITIIS, NIUA; Ms. Syeda Afreen Banu S. Bellary, KAS, MD, Belagavi Smart City Ltd.; Ms. Shalini Goyal Bhalla, MD, International Council for Circular Economy; Mr. Anil Kumar Bansal, Senior Director - Urban Infrastructure, IPE Global; and Dr. Charru Malhotra, Professor, Indian Institute of Public Administration, as they share their perspectives on sustainable urbanisation, circular economies, and transformative climate-centric initiatives shaping India's urban landscape.

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