Urban Metabolism: The Case of Budapest

At the period of economic globalisation and speedy urbanization, in the most developed countries the sustainable uses of natural resources have become more and more important and policy relevant. Exploring urban metabolism applying material flow analysis could help to better understand the complex features of input-output processes, and the material consumption of the society. Hungary's capital, Budapest together with its surroundings is one of the highly developed metropolitan regions in Central Europe where the concentration of economic and financial resources and technical and social infrastructure have made it possible to support about 2.5 million people (25 per cent of the country's total population) on about 2,500 km2 land area. This population of capital region depends on a continual supply of materials, energy and information to maintain function and everyday life. Economic activities are highly concentrated in Budapest agglomeration producing roughly 40 per cent of the national Gross Domestic Product. The economic and social changes in Budapest between 1950 and 1990, coupled with a large population increase, brought with them greater material and energy consumption needs and unprecedented waste generation habits. After the political and economic transformation in 1990, radical economic, demographic and social changes have occurred which had altogether a great impact on different resource uses (e.g. water, energy, land and food), and resource efficiency. The case study highlights the economic, social and environmental transformation of Budapest by emphasizing the following most important aspects: development and transformation of the economy and society; material resource consumption and waste generation and related environmental impacts. The main findings and recommendations of the case study can contribute to underpin both more resource efficient urban policy and design, as well as enhancing sustainable consumption and production in Budapest.

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