When you go to the grocery store and pick out any piece of fruit from the produce section, the chances are good that this fruit had to travel a great distance to reach your city and freight delivers it to the store. The fruit was likely not grown anywhere close by unless you happen to live in a self-sufficient town or region.
Self-sufficient cities, also known as eco-cities, exist around the world, but they are few and far between. To be considered self-sustaining, the community needs to be able to provide not just the food for those living within the area, but also other necessities such as energy and waste output services, water, and they have a focus on preserving the environment of the city.
While it may seem that rural areas would have an advantage in this arena compared to the urban cities, cities have been becoming more self-sufficient in recent years. Resources created in the area can be moved over short distances in densely populated areas rather than when people have disproportionately scattered around in rural regions.
To be a truly independent city, localized food production is only one piece of the puzzle. Another critical component is how the cities receive its energy, as it must be both sustainable and reliable. At this time, many major cities around the world are moving towards a more reliable energy source in renewable sources like solar and wind, rather than using fossil fuels, which heavily rely on the use of imports to get the energy to the cities.
Reliable public transportation for the city’s residents will also increase the city’s level of self-sufficiency. Many newer towns that created within the last 100 years were set up based on the need for automobiles to be used for residents’ primary mode of transportation, whereas in much older cities, streets were used mainly for walking. In Barcelona, the city has decided to shift to a super-grid system that reduces the number of cars on the roads. While there is undoubtedly less traffic with this type of grid system, there is also considerably less pollution going into the air, adding to the level of self-sufficiency of the city itself.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the changes that city planners need to consider, so the areas are self-sufficient, they are a starting point of objectives any metropolitan area should consider to move toward self-sustainability.