Alas, we have come to the end of our tour of Lahore. Over this journey, we have explored the key urban metabolic flows underpinning the functioning of the city including air, water and waste. A UPE perspective has helped to unveil how the city and its social processes are intertwined with its ecology, which have often been regarded as distinct from one another in general discourse. Seeing Lahore as this “hybrid” city drew emphasis on how urbanisation is at the heart of the transformation of what is deemed as ‘nature’ (Swyngedouw, 1996). Whether this be through its nostalgic attempts to revive Lahore’s historic reputation as a ‘garden city’, or how the city is poisoning itself through its self-induced smog season- which tends to be presented as an inevitable aspect to growth, it is indisputable that this is all driven by the unevenness in power relations. However, UPE challenges this and provides a historical and material account to discuss the processes that produce these inequalities.
The breath of issues that a UPE understanding can help to explore in depth is what makes it so relevant for a city like Lahore, where a lack of state intervention is prevalent and has created a myriad of unaddressed problems. One intriguing aspect is the city’s air pollution crisis, particularly because Lahore frequently ranks as having the worst air quality in the world. A UPE framework therefore provides an insightful and new approach to understanding this, which highlights overlooked perspectives in the existing literature such as children’s health and the politics of monitoring, as discussed in the earlier blog pieces.
Despite all the environmental challenges that these UPE discussions has brought to light- which paint Lahore rather bleakly- it is important to recognise how productive this framework can be for future planning and governance, especially in guiding Lahore’s infrastructures to be more climate resilient. As mentioned in the introductory blog, Pakistan is the 5th most vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change, and so it is paramount that Lahore is well prepared to mitigate the inevitable effects that would disturb its urban flows.
It pains me to see how the city’s incredible developments over my lifetime are all a façade; shrouding the decades of relentless deterioration of its scarce resources. There is an urgent need for action, and although we do see some Lahoris taking a stand through organised marches or volunteering, this desperately needs to be upscaled from local action to regional. Governments and civil society can no longer turn a blind eye to what is going on. As I attempt to briefly propose in this blog series, the unequal power relations that perpetuate the problems must be tackled in order to prevent the environmental injustices that choke this fascinating city.
Swyngedouw, E. (1996). The city as a hybrid: on nature, society and cyborg urbanization. Capitalism Nature Socialism 7 (2), pp. 65– 80.