The University of Strathclyde has announced that it has signed agreements at the Bengal Global Business Summit with the University of Calcutta; the Department of Environment, West Bengal government; and Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCC&I), to look at the opportunities and challenges created by urban living. The Scottish university’s Institute of Future Cities, based in Glasgow, said its work focuses on cities as home to an ever-growing proportion of the world’s population, which puts pressure on transport infrastructure, the environment and quality of life.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with key government departments, influential businesses and leading academics, to develop innovative solutions for the key issues for cities in India,” said Richard Bellingham, director of the Institute for Future Cities. Bellingham explained: “Rapid urbanisation and the opportunities and challenges that come with that are affecting cities around the world, not just in India. Each city has its own particular set of circumstances, opportunities and challenges. So, tailored solutions for each city need to be developed through a deep understanding of the city in question and those solutions need to be capable of delivery at a city-wide scale.”
The Institute for Future Cities said its Bengal partnership sets out to understand the specific challenges and opportunities for Kolkata and to develop solutions that will be relevant to many cities across the world. “That is why we are tackling air pollution – an issue that has huge impacts on millions of lives across the world. Delivering effective solutions needs partnership. So, we are interested in hearing from potential partner organisations with interest in city issues across India,” Bellingham said. The new partnership is aimed at identifying barriers and solutions to sustainable economic growth; resilience of critical urban systems and infrastructure; environmental sustainability; and health, wellbeing and quality of life for the citizens of Kolkata and West Bengal.
The five-year agreements will see the exchange of ideas, data and expertise and the creation of joint funding bids for research and consultancy, scholarships, a joint master’s programme, joint workshops and conferences and reciprocal visits. In the first year of the agreement, the partners will work together to create projects on the development of low-carbon energy for Kolkata, strategies for future city development, optimisation of urban systems such as transport and health and pollution and noise reduction. Improving air quality has been identified as a key priority.
Kolkata, with more than 14 million citizens, is the third-most populous urban area in India after New Delhi and Mumbai and is among the largest and most populous cities on earth. “The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with the Institute of Future Cities at Strathclyde hopes to add value, by addressing the urban challenges that beset a densely populous city like Kolkata and help deliver on our promises for a sustainable 2030 Kolkata,” said Deb Mukherjee, senior vice-president of BCC&I.