The concept of green cities or sustainable cities is increasingly becoming popular in both developed and developing worlds as it has become apparent that nature can no longer sustain human activities that leave a heavy carbon footprint and destroy the environment. The global society has finally come to appreciate that there is a need to protect the environment and use the resources in a sustainable manner.
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According to Helfert, as we move towards sustainable cities, we need to have standards that will guide various developmental projects which in the past have been associated with wanton environmental destruction (66). Nature is very delicate and when it is destroyed, then it may not sustain economic activities. It is for this reason that many cities around the world have come up with strategies to promote the development of green cities. Dubai is one of the fastest developing cities in the world. According to Vesco and Ferrero, the city of Dubai has experienced massive development over the past two decades as the government tries to shift its economy from that which relies on oil and gas to that which is service-based (49).
The transport sector, real estate, industrial sector, tourism and hospitality, and education sector are some of the sectors that have experienced massive growth within the last twenty years. The city is currently the leading tourist destination and business hub in the Middle East region. It’s metro transport system is comparable to that in developed countries in Europe and North America. The city boasts of the tallest building in the world and s series of other beautiful sceneries which attract local and international tourists. Tokyo is the capital city of Japan. According to Ercoskun, Tokyo is the world’s most populous city (32).
It is home to numerous companies and it has advanced technologies in the fields of communication, transport, health, entertainment, among others. It is a regional power. Berlin is the capital city of Germany. Ranked the second most populous city in Europe, the city has experienced rapid growth, especially following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
As these countries experience rapid growth, the main issue that they have to deal with is sustainability in their development. Pollution, overpopulation, waste management, efficient use of energy, and proper city planning are some of the issues that these firms have to deal with in modern society. They are trying to achieve sustainability by embracing the concept of green cities. In this paper, the researcher will compare how well the city of Dubai is moving towards being a green city. This city will be compared with the cities of Tokyo in Japan and Berlin in Germany.
Analysis of the Sustainability of the Cities of Dubai, Tokyo, and Berlin
Porters Five Forces Model Analysis
Dubai is currently competing with other cities around the world to become a major sustainable city in terms of the use of energy, management of wastes, city planning, and in many other areas. To determine some of the environmental forces that may negatively affect it from achieving the sustainability goal, the Five Forces Model below can be used.
As shown in the figure above, the external environmental forces can be classified into five main groups. Industry rivalry is one of the environmental factors that this city is currently struggling with in its quest to achieve sustainability. Other cities such as Abu Dhabi and Sharja are also fighting for the limited resources available in the country to achieve sustainability. It means that the growth towards being a green city, which requires a substantial amount of resources, has been slowed by the fact that this city has to share the available resources by the other cities. The potential threat of new entrants is high as other major urban centers in the country also struggle to achieve sustainability. As such, the resources in the country will have to be spread to cover these other countries.
The power of buyers in this context is determined by the influence that other cities to which this firm exports its products have when it comes to choosing where to buy their products. The power of buyers is very high, especially with the emergence of other regional cities exporting similar products to the global market. The power of suppliers in this context is determined by the drivers of green energy.
They are the green energy companies hired by the government to redefine the use of energy in the country and to manage emissions. Their power is relatively low. The threat of substitutes is real. In case Dubai fails to move at the desired pace towards becoming a sustainable city, then other cities may forge ahead and achieve sustainability, making them more desirable to investors and tourists.
In this paper, the sustainability of Dubai was compared closely with that of Tokyo and Berlin. Using the same tool above, these two cities were also analyzed.
Industry rivalry that faces Japan as it tries to become a green and sustainable city is significant. Other major cities like Yokohama, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki are also struggling to achieve sustainability within the country. The potential threat of new entrants is high because many other regional cities are also trying to go green, which means that they will soon start fighting for the available resources to achieve the desired sustainability. The threat of buyers and that of substitutes is significantly high. However, the country faces the negligible threat of suppliers because it is a leading industrial city that is technologically advanced.
According to Vesco, the city of Berlin is leading other cities in terms of green energy development (83). The technological advancement of this city reduces the industry rivalry for this firm significantly because other regional cities are forced to emulate its trends in green energy and sustainable development. The potential threat of new entrants and new substitutes is relatively low for this city because the advancements that it has made may take other cities centuries before they can reach the level of competing with Berlin favorably. The city has advanced wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass energy systems that is unmatched in the world.
The power of buyers for this city (in terms of the willingness of other cities to purchase products made in Berlin) is high, especially because of the high prices. The power of suppliers is extremely low (lower than that of Dubai and Tokyo) because the green city movement is led by local experts.
Competitive Profile Matrix
The cities of Dubai, Tokyo, and Berlin are currently struggling to become the green cities and to achieve sustainability in the face of global warming. According to Vinod, global warming is a major issue that is forcing cities around the world to redefine a number of issues such as emissions of greenhouse gases, waste management, and city planning, among others (74). The competitive matrix below helps in comparing how the three cities are fairing in terms of various parameters.
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Table 1: Competitive Profile Matrix.
|Critical Success Factor||Weight||Rating||Score||Rating||Score||Rating||Score|
|Use of renewable energy||0.1||3||0.2||5||0.5||5||0.5|
|Sustainable energy use||0.1||2||0.2||5||0.5||4||0.4|
|Proper waste management||0.1||3||0.3||4||0.4||4||0.4|
|Reduced air, water, and soil pollution||0.1||5||0.5||4||0.4||2||0.2|
|Ease of doing business||0.1||3||0.3||4||0.4||5||0.5|
|Security and safety of residents||0.1||3||0.3||4||0.4||5||0.5|
|Standard housing facilities||0.1||1||0.1||1||0.1||5||0.5|
|Improved communication and transport infrastructure||0.1||2||0.2||3||0.3||4||0.4|
As shown in the table above, the city of Berlin outsmarts both Dubai and Tokyo in terms of the use of renewable energy. Japan comes second while Dubai comes last. In terms of sustainable energy use, Berlin comes first once again, followed by Tokyo and then Dubai. Energy use and management are very critical in achieving sustainability. Smart cities have learned how to use renewable energy and avoid emissions related to energy use.
In waste management, Tokyo and Berlin tie in the first position, while Dubai is ranked third. When looking at reduced air, water, and soil pollution, Dubai comes first, followed by Berlin, and then Tokyo. Tokyo tops the three countries in terms of ease of doing business, followed by Berlin while Dubai comes last. In terms of security and safety, Tokyo comes first, followed by Berlin and Dubai. Tokyo also comes first in improved housing facilities, followed by Berlin and then Dubai. Tokyo leads the other countries in improved communication infrastructure, followed by Berlin, while Dubai comes last.
Achieving sustainable development is very challenging, especially for a city that is experiencing rapid development such as Dubai, Tokyo, and Berlin. It is necessary to use an intensive strategy to look at how these cities are making progress in terms of using renewable energy and protecting the environment as they try to balance between developmental needs and environmental needs. The figure below shows the three types of strategies that will be used at this stage.
The city of Dubai is currently one of the regional powers in the Middle East in terms of tourists’ attraction and business center. When looking at market penetration, the focus will be to determine the number of industries actively using renewable energy as a way of enhancing sustainability in the city. According to Sanz-Bobi, most of the firms in the city of Dubai are yet to fully embrace the use of renewable energy (95). As such, the city is relatively lagging behind the other two competitors in market penetration. In Market development, the focus will be to investigate the city is partnering with the relevant stakeholders such as institutions of higher learning to promote the development in the field of renewable energy.
According to Ercoskun, many institutions of higher learning have taken leading roles in the development of renewable energy (46). The activities of such institutions can be enhanced if they are supported by the relevant government authorities in their research. This city is yet to take serious initiatives to partner with these institutions to enhance the development of renewable energy. In terms of product development, we can look at the different types of renewable energy that is available in this city. According to Helfert, the availability of oil and gas in the United Arab Emirates has made local stakeholders reluctant in the development of renewable sources of energy (37).
As mentioned in the section above, Tokyo is the most populous city in the world. To manage this population, it becomes critically important to find ways of using alternative sources of energy that are cheap, renewable, and friendly to the environment. When looking at the level at which local industries have embraced the use of renewable energy, it is clear that this city is performing better than Dubai, but it is lagging behind Berlin.
However, the city has been investing a lot in the development of renewable energy because of the volatile oil prices in the international market. In terms of product development, Tokyo has registered above-average performance. The city is home to some of the largest nuclear plants that help in producing alternative sources of energy. Although nuclear energy is not classified as one of the desirable sources of green energy, it has helped the city to reduce its reliance on oil and gas as the primary source of energy.
The city of Berlin stands out as the most sustainable urban center, outperforming the other two. According to Sanz-Bobi, about one-third of Berlin City is taken by forests, gardens, parks, lakes, and rivers (56). The city has made an effort to ensure that a number of industries such as the transport sector now partly use renewable energy instead of fully relying on oil and gas. The city has some of the top universities in the world which have focused on the development of renewable sources of energy. The city currently has access to solar, wind, thermal, and biogas energy which supplement the renewable sources.
As these cities struggle to achieve sustainability and improve their use of green energy, it may be necessary to use the integration strategies. They can decide to use either the vertical integration or horizontal integration based on the prevailing environmental forces. The figure below shows the integration strategies.
The city of Dubai has often used horizontal integration in promoting various industries in the country. The government plays a major role in various industries such as transport, energy, education, and many others. Although the city of Dubai is lagging behind in terms of the use of renewable energy, it is performing well in its path towards becoming a sustainable economy as it moves away from overreliance on the oil and gas sector. This has been done through vertical integration where the government takes over control of various firms to help in improving their efficiency.
In Tokyo, the sustainability of the city and improved use of renewable energy are driven by the private sector. The private players, through the support from the government, have been using both vertical and horizontal integration strategies based on the prevailing circumstances. The city is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies. These companies have been working very closely to reduce the use of oil and gas as their main source of power. They integrate their research activities to help them come up with better ways of ensuring that the city remains sustainable.
The city of Berlin is slowly becoming a global center for renewable energy. The private sector has been working very closely with the public sector to help transform the city from that which relies on fossil fuel to drive its engines to that which uses green energy. The main strategy that has been commonly used in this city is horizontal integration. Mergers and acquisitions have helped bring together small firms to form mid-sized or large organizations that can conduct proper research in the field of renewable energy. When they pull their resources together, they find it easy to overcome environmental challenges. The private sector has also developed strategic alliances with the government to help in undertaking various researches and in implementing some of the policies that can help in this major transformation.
Achieving sustainable development is a big step that these countries will make and the use of renewable sources of energy will play a major role in this process. These firms will face a number of factors that will affect them either positively or negatively. SWOT Matrix can be used to help us in determining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and Threats that these cities face as they struggle to achieve sustainability and development of renewable energy sources. The analysis will be done on each of these cities in tabular form to see how they compare
Table 2: SWOT Matrix.
The Boston Consulting Group matrix is another model that can help in comparing the performance of these cities as they try to achieve sustainability in the development and use of energy. The table below shows the matrix.
Table 3: BCG Matrix.
|Question Marks |
|Cash cows |
As shown in this analysis, oil and gas are still important cash cows to the city of Dubai. However, they are already becoming problematic to the sustainability of the cities of Tokyo and Berlin. Tokyo and Berlin currently rely on hydropower as their cash cows. However, they are both moving fast towards the use of wind, solar, and biomass as renewable and environmentally friendly sources of energy. All three countries are keen on embracing green energy as the primary pillar in their sustainable development.
A study by Ercoskun shows that the rich and the talented will soon start moving to green cities where they are not exposed to dangerous environmental hazards caused by the industrial sector (88). Every city around the world is trying to transform its energy use and waste management as one of the main ways of becoming green cities. Dubai is one such city. It is clear from the analysis done using the six tools that Dubai is facing stiff competition as it tries to become a green and sustainable city.
Porter’s Five Forces Model Analysis shows that the three cities face numerous challenges within their region that make it difficult to achieve the green city goals that they have set based on international standards. The analysis of these three cities using Competitive Profile Matrix revealed that Berlin is ahead of these Dubai and Tokyo in becoming a green city with sustainable development.
Tokyo is second while Dubai comes in the third position. Intensive Strategy shows that Berlin and Tokyo are ahead of Dubai in trying to develop renewable sources of energy. These two cities have come to appreciate the importance of public-private partnerships as a way of achieving a sustainable development goal. Integration Strategy shows the approaches that the cities have been using to enhance the development of sustainable cities through public-private partnerships. A further analysis using the SWOT Matrix identifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that the cities have to deal with as they move towards sustainable development. The BCG Matrix identifies sources of energy that each of the three countries is focusing on, and areas they need to make radical changes in line with the emerging needs.
Recommendation for Dubai
Dubai Expo 2020 is an ambitious plan that will showcase the city of Dubai as a center of tourism, a global regional hub, and a city that is driven by clean energy. It is scheduled to begin on October 20, 2020, till April 10, 2021. The city will need to demonstrate to the world that it has been able to achieve sustainable energy goals as set by the government. The government should consider taking into consideration the following recommendations as it tries to achieve sustainability and green energy use in this century.
- The government should partner with private players as a way of promoting development towards a green energy economy.
- The industrial sector in Dubai should work closely with institutions of higher learning and other research institutes to find ways of enhancing the development of renewable energy.
- The city of Dubai should consider coming up with policies about greenhouse gas emissions that every firm within the country should follow. Such policies will make the industrial sector appreciate the need to go green.
- The government of Dubai should invest in institutions of higher learning, especially in the field of research, to help in addressing the issue of sustainable development using local resources.
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