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October 2009

Volume 1 Issue 4

u r b a n WORLD Scaling new heights New ideas in urban planning

Afghanistan: citizens on the frontline Mozambique’s struggle after the floods Seoul’s bid to be the world’s greenest city

FOR A BETTER URBAN FUTURE


u r b a n WORLD www.unhabitat.org © 2009 UN-HABITAT UN-HABITAT P.O.Box 30030, GPO Nairobi 00100, Kenya Tel. (254-20) 762 3120 Fax. (254-20) 762 3477 E-mail: urbanworld@unhabitat.org EDITOR: Roman Rollnick EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS: Tom Osanjo, Eric Orina EDITORIAL BOARD Anatha Krishnan Daniel Biau Edlam Yemeru Eduardo López Moreno Jane Nyakairu Lucia Kiwala Mariam Yunusa Mohamed El-Sioufi Nicholas You Oyebanji Oyeyinka (Chair) Raf Tuts PRESSGROUP HOLDINGS EUROPE S.A. San Vicente Martir 16-6-1 46002 Valencia, Spain Tel. (34) 96 303 1000 Fax. (34) 96 303 1234 E-mail: urbanworld@pressgroup.net PUBLISHER: Angus McGovern MANAGING EDITOR: Richard Forster EDITOR: Kirsty Tuxford STAFF WRITER: Jonathan Andrews ART DIRECTOR: Marisa Gorbe ADVERTISING: Fernando Ortiz, Kristine Riisbrich Christensen INTERNS: Jake Blosse, Jemima Raman Urban World is published four times a year by UN-HABITAT and Pressgroup Holdings Europe S.A. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not reflect the views and policies of UN-HABITAT. Use of the term “country” does not imply any judgment by the authors or UN-HABITAT as to the legal or other status of any territorial entity.

CONTENTS OPINION

ANALYSIS

4 Message from the Executive Director

30 Dateline Afghanistan – a report from the frontline Dominic O’Reilly

5 The Seoul Vision

BEST PRACTICES

Mayor Oh Se-hoon

8 Cities, their energy use, and washing lines Gotelind Alber and Nigel Jollands

11 Escaping slums: confronting a global urban crisis Mohamed El-Sioufi

36 Planning a better future for Mozambique

40 Lagos sets standard for urban transport in Africa Jake Blosse

42 News and project round-ups

COVER STORY

(North America and Europe)

URBAN PLANNING 16 Why urban planning systems must change Naison D. Mutizwa-Mangiza

24 How Paris plans to go ‘grand and green’ Thierry Naudin

27 Renovating Beijing’s ancient heart Xiao Ou Chen

EDITORIAL Please send feedback to: edit@pressgroup.net ADVERTISING To advertise in Urban World, please contact: urbanworld@pressgroup.net SUBSCRIPTIONS Contact: subscriptions@pressgroup.net

a n u r ObR L D W Volum

e 1 Issu

e4

October

2009

REPRINTS

w ng ne Scali hts nning heig as in urban pla New ide

Reprinted and translated articles should be credited “Reprinted from Urban World”. Reprinted articles with bylines must have the author’s name. Please send a copy of reprinted articles to the editor at UN-HABITAT.

tline the fron ds ens on the floo tan: citiz ggle after city Afghanis stru greenest ique’s world’s Mozamb to be the bid Seoul’s

Photo © Paty Jimenez

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36


FOR A BETTER URBAN FUTURE

IN FOCUS

URBAN WATCH

44 Latin America

62 World Habitat Day News

River clean-up offers fresh start in Brazil Manuel Manrique

63 Habitat Business Awards

News and project round-ups

Postcard from Sweden

48 Asia and Pacific Women’s Bank funds new housing in Sri Lanka Emily Wong

66 People 67 Conference and events calendar

11

68 Publications New UN-HABITAT publications

News and project round-ups

52 Africa Entrepreneurship serves young people in slums Melanda Schmid News and project round-ups

58 Middle East News and project round-ups

60 Central and eastern Europe News and project round-ups

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Volume 1 Issue 4 October 2009

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OPINION

Message from the Executive Director

T

he United Nations has designated the first Monday in October each year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of the cities and towns in which we live. For World Habitat Day 2009, we have chosen the theme, Planning our Urban Future, for a simple but very important reason: In many parts of our world, urban planning systems have changed very little. Indeed, they are often contributors to urban problems rather than tools for human and environmental improvement. It is clear to us at UN-HABITAT and to our partners in government, municipalities, and at community level that current approaches to planning must change and that a new role for planning in sustainable urban development has to be found. Yet to blame urban planners and their plans for our urban problems is like turning back the clock and going back in history to a time when no-one could have foreseen the problems we now face. It is a fact, as this issue of the magazine reminds us yet again, that slums are the worst manifestations of urban poverty, deprivation, and exclusion in the modern world. And it is a fact that today we have the technological know-how such as satellitebased Geographical Information Systems – undreamed of until not so long ago – the power, and the money to plan effectively for the targets established in the Millennium Declaration. In many countries planning has not been very powerful and developers, the private sector and individual citizens – who do not have the public good uppermost in their considerations – are relatively unconstrained in their activities. Powerful economic interests may feel threatened by planning recommendations. Politicians may not have an adequate sense of the public interest or plans may not reflect their priorities. Alternatively, planners may not have adequate training and their advice may be good or bad, taken or ignored. Plans may be unrealistic, given their resource requirements. Plans may not reflect the priorities of community groups. On top of all this, the implementation authority may be fragmented among jurisdictions.

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In trying to correct these deficiencies, planning has opened itself to public participation and preference and to taking a more realistic view of the limits of the possible, while factoring in the resources likely to be available for implementation. Yet, in today’s world, despite many success stories that have come about due to planning’s ability to reinvent itself, it would appear that the planning function still falls short in some parts of the world. Slums are multiplying, urban crime is rampant, development keeps sprawling, transport efficiency is declining, energy costs are rising, and health problems are increasing, while people in many countries are walling themselves off from others in gated communities. What’s happening here? Has planning failed and does it need to be replaced by a more effective function? Actually, there is no replacement for planning. It is a function that results from our uniquely human ability to anticipate consequences. As the world grows more and more urban, it is vital that, as governments accept urbanization as a positive trend, planning fulfils its proper role in guiding urban development when it comes to improving access to services, and economic and social opportunities. Innovative ideas such as systematically including youth – a demographic section that in many countries is significantly large – as participants in the planning processes and empowering local groups to oversee their implementation will go a long way in rejuvenating the planning function. Urban planning will therefore have to continue to adapt so it is able to carry out its much-required effective role in shaping a positive urban future.

Anna Tibaijuka Executive Director UN-HABITAT


OPINION

Greener cities

Seoul’s bid to be the world’s greenest city The third C40 Large Cities Climate Summit, held in Seoul May 18-21 2009 drew the host city much praise for the way it is planning for climate change and new environmental initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making the city smarter and more sustainable. Here Mayor Oh Se-hoon writes about his vision for the future.

S

eoul, the capital city of the Republic of Korea, is a dynamic city where 600 years of history and the latest IT technologies coexist in harmony. However, the unprecedented rapid growth we have experienced in a relatively short time – known as the “Miracle of Han River” – has resulted in an overpopulated city with a great number of environmental problems. As one of the top 10 economies in the world, quality of life, such as concern for the environment is rapidly emerging as the foremost interest of the Korean people. My vision of Seoul as a clean and attractive global city, is to reflect these changes in society. Over the past three years, Seoul has transformed itself into an eco-friendly city, implementing numerous eco-friendly measures and at the same time, hosting the third C40 Summit. In particular the Eco-Friendly Declaration that was announced on the eve of the second C40 Summit held in New York in May 2007 shows Seoul’s commitment to tackling climate change. The goals of the Declaration are to reduce energy use by 15 percent, lower greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent and increase new or renewable energy use by 10 percent by 2020. Seoul is an overcrowded megacity home to some 10 million people, and many are worried that the goals set by the declaration cannot be realized. However Seoul felt it had the responsibility to lead the fight against climate change as the host city of the third C40 Summit. Accordingly, at the third C40 Summit, Seoul’s efforts were greatly praised by the participants, including mayors and world leaders,

and many cities have expressed an interest in learning from the Seoul experience. Green buildings, green transport, green energy The Clinton Climate Initiative has judged Seoul to be the world’s leading city in implementing the Building Retrofit Project, which renovates existing buildings to improve energy efficiency – as agreed at the second C40 Summit in New York. In Seoul a total of 87 buildings, including 45 public buildings and 42 private buildings, are participating in the Building Retrofit Project. The project has been completed in 62 buildings, with 25 still to be retrofitted. For new buildings, Seoul is promoting energy efficiency right from the design stage with so-called Green Building Criteria applied to all new buildings to increase the use of new or renewable energy. Seoul is also encouraging the construction of green buildings by providing tax incentives for those built as eco-friendly. So far, around 60 environmentally friendly buildings have been constructed. For example, the new Seoul City Hall follows the traditional Korean style and design, and is also expected to increase the new or renewable energy supply rate to 12.2 percent. Seoul is diversifying the energy mix by using solar and geothermal energy. There are resource recovery facilities (incinerators) in the north, south, east and west of Seoul which recycle a large amount of energy with a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. The Nanji area, located downstream along the Han River, used to be a mountain of

The Mayor of Seoul GovernMent

Photo © Seoul MetroPolitan

landfill waste until the early 1990s. Today, it has been transformed into a city park. The area will be turned into a new and renewable energy landmark with a proposed Energy-Zero Building, a hydro station, and photovoltaic generation facility. Seoul is also leading in distribution of eco-friendly energy as we became the second city in the world to successfully attract the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE –the world’s leading new and renewable energy institute.

October 2009

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OPINION

Greener in cities Conflict Africa taking the Responsibility to Protect

Seoul’s Integrated Mass Transit System enables people to travel around the city for only one dollar, and commuters can change from subways to buses without any transit charge. We have implemented a bus-only lane system so that people on buses can avoid traffic congestion. This has increased the use of public transport in Seoul, which plays a great role in reducing CO2 emissions from the rising number of vehicles. Indeed, public transportation in Seoul is transforming rapidly into eco-friendly public transport. The entire city’s estimated 72,000 taxis use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fuel. In addition, buses that used to be the biggest contributor to air pollution, due to the use of diesel engines in the past, have now been replaced with compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. Until now, 6,000 out of 7,600 buses have been replaced with CNG vehicles that do not generate emissions. By 2010, all the buses in Seoul are expected to be replaced with CNG buses. Furthermore, electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, LPG hybrid taxis and electric bicycles are expected to be introduced in the city. All these efforts have lowered the concentrations of particulates in the air, which decreased by around 10 percent last year. Seoul has also announced a plan to establish 418 bicycle-only lanes to provide a safe and pleasant environment for cyclists. The plan to establish cycle lanes is expected to be completed by 2014. If such programmes are promoted continuously, the air quality in Seoul will be comparable to the air of garden cities in Europe.

A breathtaking view of a cleaner, greener city

The world design capital In October 2007, the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) proclaimed Seoul the World Design Capital 2010 at its San Francisco congress. When I took office in 2006 I selected the design industry as one of the new growth engines responsible for the future of Seoul.

Green governance - the power to make an ecofriendly city The driving engine that helped Seoul to establish an image as an eco-friendly city over the past three years was the digital governance system that uses the world’s latest IT technology. Around 150,000 were proposed to improve working conditions through a system called the Imagination Bank. The ideas of citizens are also reflected in the city administration through the Ten Million Imagination Oasis website. To date, around 30,000 ideas have been proposed by the citizens and the majority of them are about environment and climate change, accounting for 41 percent of the proposals. For example, a citizen had proposed an idea to turn the Gwangjin Bridge into a pedestrian walkway. This idea was adopted, and now two of the four lanes on the bridge are being transformed. Seoul’s creative governance system has been recognized by the international community, and has won two UN Public Service Awards.

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Various design projects are taking place in Seoul to improve the efficiency and enhance the attractiveness of the city. Among these, Green Design is the key project, which is to create green spaces in Seoul, removing concrete buildings that cover parts of the city, which used to be a symbol of compressed growth. Our goal is to create a metropolis that can be practically regarded as a city within a park. In some parts of the city, large-scale green parks will be created and small spaces in residential areas will be used to create small parks. At the northeastern part of Seoul where there are smaller green spaces than that of other parts of the city, a large scale Dream Forest will be created by 2016, and a green park larger than Central Park in New York or Hyde Park in London will be constructed at Yongsan. Furthermore, parks have been created on top of approximately 200 buildings through green rooftop projects. Seoul is also restoring the green space along the Han River, our natural environmental gift. The Han River banks were cemented over during the 1980s for flood control. Now, the paving is being removed and the riverside


Greener cities

Photo © Seoul metroPolitan Government

filled with greenery in order to create an ecospace. This is a part of the Han River Renaissance Project that Seoul is promoting with a view for a long-term future of more than two decades. The idea is to transform the riverside into an attractive cultural space for people and turn the area into a global waterfront city. The final goal of Seoul’s green design is to complete a huge green belt connecting the whole city. Seoul is tearing down outdated buildings that need to be reconstructed in the downtown area to create parks in their place. The vision is that by 2015, a huge green belt park will be in existence. Up to 90 metres wide, it will cross the heart of the city forming an enormous axis linking the Bukhansan and Namsan mountains with the large downtown parks, and the green space along the Han River. We believe this will become another case that global experts in urban planning can use as an interesting benchmark. Addressing climate change The Seoul Declaration, announced at the C40 Seoul Summit, is the result of much discussion to move towards low carbon cities.

OPINION

However, the C40 Group is not an organization that has binding power. The Seoul Declaration supports the nonbinding nature of the C40 Group and at the same time provides a practical system that encourages members to transform themselves into low carbon cities. The Declaration states that the C40 cities have set the common goal of achieving this transformation. To achieve this status, cities must review existing or newly drawn up Climate Change Action Plans, report on their established measures, targets and achievements at the fourth C40 Summit and subsequent summits, and notify the C40 Secretariat of the names of staff in charge of climate change policies and programmes. Seoul is also designing a Master Plan for Green Growth to tackle climate change. As a city that has led the Seoul Declaration, this master plan will include the best and leading climate change measures. We are hoping to proudly introduce Seoul’s efforts in the combat against climate change once again at the fourth C40 Summit to be held in 2011 in São Paulo, Brazil. u

Seventy-three cities from 41 countries met in Seoul Cities account for just two percent of the world’s landmass, yet they are responsible for more than 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The third C40 Large Cities Climate Summit was held 18 - 21 May in Seoul for mayors from major cities around the world and climate change experts. UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director and former US President Bill Clinton joined delegates to press home the message that action on climate change has to be implemented in cities. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is a voluntary gathering of mayors from major cities around the world who have recognized the significance of climate change and are committed to tackling it. Nations frequently face difficulties when joining forces to address climate change due to various conflicts of interest, whereas cities are able to effectively and actively implement climate change action plans. In particular, the C40 Group is creating new role models for cities by promoting practical projects such as the Building Retrofit Project for cities including not only Seoul, but also New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, to cite a few. The first summit was held in London, and the second in New York. The third meeting in Seoul laid the groundwork for the Asian region, which was previously passive in the efforts against climate change. The theme was Cities’ Achievements and Challenges in the Fight against Climate Change. The summit outcome document, the Seoul Declaration set a common Low Carbon City goal and suggested practical actions to achieve this goal. Another major achievement from the C40 Seoul Summit was the announcement of the Climate Positive Development Programme. The Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and the US Green Building Council (USGBC) have joined forces on this programme to create model, large-scale building projects that demonstrate how new urban developments around the world can become climate positive – reducing their net greenhouse gas emissions below zero. A total of 16 urban development projects, including the Magok development project in Seoul, will participate.

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OPINION

Governments and climate change

Cities, their energy use, and washing lines Washing lines have been causing a stir in north America. Rather than using a tumble dryer, some residents have sought to save energy and reduce CO2 emissions by hanging their laundry out to dry in the backyard. But local ordinances prohibit outdoor clothes lines as eyesores. Gotelind Alber, one of Europe’s foremost climate experts and founder of the Sustainable Energy and Climate Policy Institute in Germany, and Nigel Jollands, Head of the International Energy Agency’s Energy Unit, convey an important message on urban energy consumption in the run-up to the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.

T

he washing line ban is just a small example of how local planning rules and city governments can, and do influence their city’s energy use. From washing lines, to the provision of municipal services and the way that city transport infrastructure is laid out, city governments can play a significant role in influencing the energy use and CO2 emissions of cities. And, given governments’ jurisdiction in many countries, a substantial share of potential carbon cuts cannot be tapped without local policies and measures. The potential impact of cities on the global situation is significant. The World Energy Outlook (International Energy Agency 2008) estimated that cities emit around 71 percent of global CO2 emissions – potentially rising to 76 percent by 2030. Given this situation, are city governments mobilized to address the climate change challenge? And what more, if anything, can be done? Are cities mobilized? While climate change has recently come to the forefront of public awareness, it tends to be overlooked by many cities, particularly in Europe, which began to make commitments to tackle climate change 20 years ago. These commitments were based on the Toronto Target of a 20 percent CO2 reduction by 2005, or defined in a collaborative effort together with other cities, adopting a declaration such as the Climate Alliance Manifesto from 1990. It was around that time that three major

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transnational city networks were founded: The Climate Alliance (Climate Alliance of European Cities with Indigenous Rainforest Peoples/Alianza del Clima), ICLEI (the former ples/ International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives today known as Local Governments for Sustainability) and Energie-Cités. All these networks are bottom-up initiatives whose main activities are sharing of experience, transfer of know how, capacitybuilding, organization of joint projects, and strengthening the role and recognition of local governments. Despite the initiatives that many cities have undertaken, we can make several critical observations: l Only a relatively small proportion of all cities are active in pursuing CO2 mitigation policies. l There is also scope to fully mainstream climate change into day-to-day actions. l A large number of single actions are taken without being fully embedded in broader government operations. l Finally, several policy areas have not been fully exploited – the use of urban and land-use planning to address climate change is one example where local governments could make further progress. Future action needed A starting point for local governments needs to be prioritizing climate change mitigation

actions in their own facilities through energy management and strategic investment. In addition, cities should encourage the energy efficiency of buildings, use land-use planning measures such as low-emission zones, congestion charges, and improvements to make public transport more attractive. These actions require cities to address the many internal barriers to climate change action including the presence of many competing demands for the local government’s limited resources (both financial and staff staffing) and the tension between short re-election periods and long-term infrastructure challenges. City governments should also, where appropriate, take action to adapt to climate changes. There is growing consensus that adaptation actions are a priority for cities in Non-Annex 1 countries. Local governments also need to expand the outreach of networks such as ICLEI, Climate Alliance and Energie-Cités. These and other networks can help to pool resources, and know-how. There is an urgent need for national governments to further engage local governments in mitigation action. This engagement can range from providing additional funding to address climate change and providing clear legal requirements to relatively indirect approaches such as guidebooks. Another avenue for enhancing local government action in climate change mitigation is encouraging greater local government


Governments and climate change

OPINION

Disasters in selected cities over the past 100 years Year

City

Disaster

Deaths (estimated number)

2005

New Orleans

Hurricane

2005

Mumbai

Flood

2003

Bam, Iran

Earthquake

2003

Paris

Heat wave

14,800

4.7

2001

Bhuj, India

Earthquake

19,700

5.5

2000

Johannesburg

Flood

100

0.2

1999

Istanbul/Izmit

Earthquake

15,000

14.1

1995

Kobe, Japan

Earthquake

6400

128.2

1985

Mexico City

Earthquake

9500

7.3

1976

Tangshan, China

Earthquake

242,000

19.2

1970

Dhaka

Flood

1400

10.1

1923

Tokyo

Earthquake

143,000

31.8

1906

San Francisco

Earthquake

3000

10.9

The Green and Brown Agendas The impact of climate change on cities and towns, as well as the reduction of dependency on fossil fuels are among the toughest problems that confront urban planners and managers trying to run smart and sustainable cities. The latest issue of UN-HABITAT’s Global Report on Human Settlements 2009 says that the so-called Green and Brown Agendas of which climate experts speak every day pose a ‘significant dilemma’ for urban planners, managers and politicians. The Green Agenda refers to the natural environment on which cities have such a great impact. According to studies of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP): l

l

l

l

Species extinction rates are now 100 to 1,000 times above the background rate. During the last several decades, 20 percent of the world’s coral reefs have been lost and 20 percent degraded, whilst 35 percent of mangroves have been lost. Sixty percent of the increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide since 1750 has taken place since 1959. Climate change now threatens biodiversity and ecosystem services across the planet. A number of countries that appeared to have positive growth in net savings (wealth) in 2001 actually experienced a loss in wealth when degradation of natural resources was factored into the accounts. One of the Millennium Development Goals is that by 2010, there should be a significant reduction in the rate of loss of biodiversity and a reversal in the loss of environmental resources.

Economic loss (USD billion, 2005)

1800

125.0

400

0.4

26,300

1.1

participation in international climate change policy processes. Such involvement can provide cities and local governments with recognition of the value of their on-the-ground policy experience. In the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol processes, local governments currently play a minor role, and the visibility of local-government actions is limited. We can identify three key options for involving cities in the UNFCCC process. As a first step, national governments could invite local and regional representatives and their national delegations. This would provide delegations the opportunity to draw on the on-the-ground experience of local governments in climate change mitigation action. Secondly, a range of topics ranging from local climate policy, options for national governments to promote local action, and models of multi-level arrangements could be considered at thematic workshops on mitigation and adaptation in the UN process. Thirdly, local and regional activities can be included in national communications. The guidelines both for Annex 1 and Non-Annex 1 national communications under the Climate Convention allow for reporting on subnational policies and measures. While some

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OPINION

Governments and climate change

The Green and Brown Agendas The Brown Agenda is about our human environment and the cities in which the most of us now live. The rapid growth of cities in the past 50 years has meant that the brown agenda of providing buildings and transport, while coping with waste, has often overwhelmed many cities, especially in the developing world. Brown functions of a city often degrade its green resources, unless city intervenes through processes such as urban planning and environmental management. l

l

l

l

l

l

l

In cities of the developing world, one in four households live in poverty; 40 percent in African cities. Twenty-five to 50 percent of people in developing cities live in informal settlements. Fewer than 35 percent of cities in the developing world have their wastewater treated; 25 billion people live without sanitation and 1.2 billion without access to clean water. Half of the urban population in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from one or more diseases associated with inadequate water and sanitation. Between one-third and one-half of the solid waste generated within most cities in low- and middle-income countries is not collected. Fewer than half of the cities of the world have urban environment plans. The Millennium Development Goals aim to halve the proportion of people without sanitation and clean water by 2015 and significantly improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.

countries already do this, local actions are not presented in a structured way. It would be helpful to define a standard format and agree on guidelines for reporting on sub-national action, and for allocating funding for developing countries to report on regional and local action. Another promising option could be to directly involve large cities in Non-Annex 1 countries in new approaches discussed in the context of

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How smart cities do it Infrastructure and transit planning l In many cities, modern rail is now seen as the solution to curbing the increased use of the private car. l Beijing, the Chinese capital, has the world’s largest metro. India is building a modern metro in the capital, Delhi. The 250-kilometre electric rail will enable 60 percent of the city to be within 15 minutes walk of a station. l In Perth, Australia, a 172-kilometre modern electric rail system has been built over the past 20 years: the newest section of the railroad runs 80 kilometres to the south and has attracted 50,000 passengers a day. In contrast, a bus system carried 14,000 a day. l If a city makes quality transit a priority, an exponential decline in car use in cities could lead to 50 percent less passenger kilometres driven in cars. Street planning l San Francisco (in the United States) removed the Embarcadero Freeway from its waterfront district in the 1990s after an earthquake. The freeway has been rebuilt as a friendlier tree-lined boulevard with pedestrian and cycle spaces. l Rio de Janeiro in Brazil has turned the avenue along Copacabana Beach into one of the world’s greatest walking and cycling spots. l Seoul, the South Korean capital, has removed a large freeway from its centre that has been built over a major river. (See story page 5). l Streets can be designed to favour pedestrian and cycle traffic. Whenever this is done, cities become more attractive and business friendly. l Gender needs to be considered in all stages of public transport planning. In many developed countries the recognition of women as the main users of public transport has led to some innovative design solutions. Many stations in cities like Tokyo, Maryland, USA, Singapore, London and Hong Kong now have shopping malls, childcare centres and improved public toilets. l Slums pose a significant threat to the green agenda, but at the same time, the brown agenda is seriously compromised for those living in slums. Compiled and researched by Olubusiyi Sarr and Edlam Yemeru of UN-HABITAT.

future commitments to be adopted at COP15 in December 2009 in Copenhagen, such as the sustainable development policies and measures approach. A local governments’ scheme on this approach would rely on a discreet list of policy measures that countries could commit to, some of which would be implemented at the local level. Based on such a set of actions, individual local governments could then put together their climate action programmes and pledge to implement the actions, with the possibility for cities in developing countries to seek international assistance and funding, as envisaged in the Bali Action Plan. Together, these sets of actions can help cities provide a high level of services to their

growing populations, while also contributing towards much needed climate change mitigation action. If national governments and city governments work together to engage in these actions, then perhaps residents in cities around the world will be free to dry their washing outdoors. u

Disclaimer: the views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the International Energy Agency.


Informal settlements

OPINION

Escaping slums: confronting a global urban crisis World leaders committed themselves to the Millennium Development Goal of improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020, but this target covers less than 10 percent of today’s slum dwellers. Indeed, writes Mohamed El-Sioufi, an expert with 32 years experience in architecture, housing and urban planning, who is Head of UN-HABITAT’s Shelter Branch, by the year 2020 the number of slum dwellers will have increased many times beyond the target figure. He recently represented UN-HABITAT at the 23rd World Congress of Architecture where he presented these ideas.

Precarious conditions, security and social unrest

u r b a n PhotoW ©O univerSity R L D of trier

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OPINION

Informal settlements

T

he world’s urban population has grown from 37 percent in 1970 to 47 percent in 2000. The year 2007 marked the turning point at which the global population was split equally between people living in urban and rural areas. Projections for 2030 predict that 60 percent of humanity will be living in urban areas. We are now at the dawn of an urban millennium. (See figure below). UN-HABITAT estimates that there will be a rising demand for housing worldwide from 2003 till 2030 to address the needs of an annual urban population increase of 70 million people – a number equivalent to seven new megacities. This means a new city roughly the size of Hanoi, Madrid or Porto Alegré; it means 877.4 million new households at an annual increment of 35.1 million homes. This translates into a daily increase of 96,150 households or an hourly growth of 4,000. In 2005, there were nearly one billion slum dwellers globally, of which 933,376 in developing regions accounting for 41.4 percent of the total urban population. In the developed regions that figure is about six percent. Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest percentage of urban populations living in slums (an average of 71.8 percent). In absolute terms, east and south Asia combined accounted for nearly 50 percent of the total slum population globally. (See figure on next page).

Projections for 2020 indicate that there will be an increase to 1,392 billion slum dwellers, most of them in the developing countries. Figures show that sub-Saharan Africa will rank first in terms of absolute numbers accounting for 393 million slum dwellers, followed by south Asia with 385 million, and east Asia ranking third with 299 million. (See figure page 14). While slums are decreasing in some regions such as in Asia and north Af Africa, they are increasing in others. Climate change vulnerability From 1975 to 2006, the number of natural disasters increased threefold while humanmade disasters multiplied tenfold in the same period. Climate change alone has led to a 50 percent increase in extreme weather events (1950s-1990s). In recent decades, the greatest increase in the incidence of disasters has occurred in Africa and Asia. UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Tibaijuka warns: “The impact of climate change takes place in cities, towns and villages. As our climate changes things are getting worse, threatening more extreme weather. If sea levels rise by just one metre, many major coastal cities will be under threat: Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, New York, Lagos, Cairo, Karachi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Dhaka, Shanghai, Osaka-Kobe, and Tokyo.” To cite just some, those are mega cit-

ies with populations of more than 10 million, she says. Never mind the many smaller cities and island nations. “Everywhere the urban poor live in places no-one else would dare set foot – along beaches vulnerable to flooding, by railways, on slopes prone to landfalls, near polluted grounds. They scratch out a living in shaky structures that would be flattened the instant a hurricane hit causing untold loss in lives and destruction. In this new urban age, the mega-cities therefore loom as giant potential flood and disaster traps,” she says. Reduce urban poverty, therefore, and we will directly offset the horrors of disasters brought on by climate change. The United Nations has calculated that one dollar invested in disaster reduction and adaptation to climate change today, can save up to seven dollars tomorrow in relief and rehabilitation costs. The urban poverty syndrome The geographical boundaries of cities are rapidly expanding, engulfing nearby rural and urban settlements (São Paulo, Brazil). Furthermore, the densification and urbanization of rural zones, forms vast “ruralo “ politan” areas (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, Egypt, Rwanda, Burundi and Nigeria).

Global trends of rural to urban population growth from 1970 to 2030

Source: UN-HABITAT

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Informal settlements

OPINION

The world’s slum dweller population by region (2005) Total Slum Population (Nearest Thousand) World

Slum Population as Percentage of Total Urban Population

997,767

31.2

Developed Regions

46,511

6.0

Developing Regions

933,376

41.4

21,224

25.4

Sub-Saharan Africa

199,231

71.8

L. America & Caribbean

134,257

30.8

Eastern Asia

212,368

34.8

Southern Asia

276,432

57.4

Southeast Asia

59,913

25.3

Western Asia

33,057

25.5

568

24.0

Northern Africa

Oceania

Source: UN-Habitat (2006), State of The World’s Cities 2006/07, p.16.

As a result of these two phenomena, sprawling, un-serviced urban peripheries of informal settlements – which are phenomenally costly to service – are being created. These peripheral informal settlements are attractive to the poor who avoid the costs associated with formal urban land and service delivery systems. As a result there is a need for formal planning and other systems to incorporate or recognize informal peri-urban areas – a huge challenge for urban planning. Rapid urbanization without commensurate economic growth is the main factor underlying the urbanization of poverty. This results in widespread formal sector unemployment and income poverty. In the informal sector it provides most employment, ranging from three percent of all employment in high income countries to 54 percent, for example, in Africa. The urban informal sector thus has a significant economic role, providing over 80 percent of housing in the cities of most developing countries. It provided 95 percent of public transport in Lima, Peru; high percentages of the labour force accounting for 65 percent in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 70 percent in Accra, Ghana, 61 percent in Addis Ababa,

Ethiopia, 80 percent in Kinshasa, Congo, and in Lagos, Nigeria 69 percent. Besides transport, the informal sector provides many urban services and goods such as drinking water, furniture, repair services, or for example, kiosks that sell essentials for the household. Most enterprises in slums around the world are informal and have citywide markets. And because the informal sector employs the majority of slum dwellers, it should be seen as a key to improving slum livelihoods. Yet slums and informal settlements are of often not recognized and thus do not exist in of official planning maps. The urban poor are also excluded by inappropriate planning and building regulations and standards far too costly for them. The urban poor are further excluded by individualized tenure systems (freehold) and the globalization of land markets. Socio-economically the slum dwellers therefore suffer from poverty, expulsion and vulnerability. Social exclusion characterizes socially and physically fragmented cities. Insecure and unsafe slums for the poor contrast greatly with the secure safe gated communities for the rich (eg: South Africa and Brazil). Informal employment is available for the majority of the poor, while the

rich have access to jobs requiring high levels of education and training. The poor use informal transport; the rich utilize private vehicles. High homicide rates characterize urban areas in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, while the lowest rates are in Europe, the eastern Mediterranean and the western Pacific. Urban crime and violence, including organized crime, is a concern in both developing and developed countries. Yet in both it is linked to deprived residential areas. Conflict-related violence is more prevalent in developing countries. Insecurity of tenure is greater in the cities of developing countries. And it is linked to slums, informality and displacement resulting from armed conflict. Urban planning challenges Challenges for urban planning in developing countries are how to deal with rapid and chaotic urbanization and increasing urban poverty; how to address the challenge of slums; how to improve public infrastructure and access to urban services; how to deal with informality in both the working and living environments; how to address the phenomenon of chaotic peri-urban areas; how to deliver infrastructure, services,

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OPINION

Informal settlements

Population of the world: Urban slum population trends

economic growth and employment in addition to the traditional role of spatial and land-use planning. Have escape strategies worked? Past and present approaches to addressing slums at the national and local levels have undergone several stages. Besides negligence or the denial of the existence of slums cited above, evictions, often using force, strategies have also involved self-help and in situ upgrading, enabling policies, and resettlement. The current best practice is participatory slum upgrading which directly involves the slum dwellers themselves in finding solutions. Finding the solutions International actors dealing with slums and their priorities include bilateral cooperation where there is a diversity of political objectives. On the other hand, there is a growing convergence among multilaterals who set up international programmes and initiatives with emphasis on slum upgrading, innovative partnerships and local development. To cite some here the Cities Alliance (World Bank, UN-HABITAT);

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the Urban Management Programme (World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, UN-HABITAT, and the Municipal Development Programme (MDP). Some of the emerging common themes include integrated approaches to slums, the promotion of partnerships and inter-institutional networks, and decentralized cooperation. International actors dealing with slums and their priorities address a multitude of sectors such as urban management and finance, urban land management, tenure, services, the environment and public health, housing delivery, population and social issues. It also includes capacity building, research activities and knowledge management and exchange. Pressing issues to be addressed are the financial constraints, contradictions between economic and social knowledge exchange, and coordination and cooperation. Civil Society has also been active in addressing slums through residents in actions, community-based organizations, Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and urbansector groups.

Development priorities have been moving towards reconsidering approaches and moving towards inclusive cities. Policy issues and strategies for inclusive cities involve ways of moving from slum upgrading to cities without slums, addressing tenure and access to land for the urban poor, or striving to achieve inclusive infrastructure. Equally important are the connections between transport and housing security, seeking to improve the livelihoods of slum dwellers, and mobilizing finance for urban development. More important still – enabling local policy to work by promoting good urban governance and the inclusive city by enhancing development potential through partnerships and effective policy coordination. Escaping slums – how is it possible? To rise to this challenge, UN-HABITAT is in the process of implementing its Mid Term Strategic and Institutional Plan (MTSIP) for the period of 2008-2013. The Plan promotes smart, sustainable urbanization which can only be achieved if slums are addressed in an appropriate way and if they are prevented from expanding through sustainable approaches to enable the provision of pro-poor land and housing as well as equitable access to infrastructure and services. The Plan has identified six Focus Areas: 1. Advocacy, monitoring and partnerships. 2. Participatory urban planning, management and governance. 3. Pro-poor land and housing. 4. Environmentally sound and affordable basic infrastructure and services. 5. Strengthening human settlements’ finance systems. 6. Excellence in management. The challenges of slums are still overwhelming, no one agency or key actor can overcome them if they act in isolation. Although we are all doing our utmost best, we can only address slums in a meaningful way through partnerships to ensure that the concerted efforts of all partners are joined synergistically to address these challenges. u


Economic development in Chinese cities

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COVER STORY

Urban planning

Why urban planning systems must change Urban planning practitioners, researchers and many non-experts acknowledge that, in many parts of the world, urban planning systems must change because they have failed to address a wide range of problems, writes Naison D. Mutizwa-Mangiza*, Chief of UN-HABITAT’s Policy Analysis Branch.

The number of cars in city centres needs to be reduced to promote cleaner air

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Photo Š Jan zabroda


Urban planning

I

t is clear that future urban planning must address the major factors shaping 21st century cities. These include five key areas: Environmental challenges of climate change and the excessive dependence of cities on cars that use fossil fuel; the demographic challenges of rapid urbanization, shrinking cities, a large youth population in some parts of the world and ageing in others, and increasing multicultural composition of cities; economic challenges of uncertain future growth and fundamental doubts about market-led approaches endangered now by the current global financial crisis, as well as increasing informality in urban activities; increasing socio-spatial challenges, especially social and spatial inequalities, urban sprawl, unplanned peri-urbanization and the increasing spatial scale of cities; and lastly, the institutional challenges related to governance and the changing roles of local government. While these are globally shared urban challenges, individual regions and countries have their own sets of characteristics determining their patterns of urban growth and specific urban development challenges. Urban planning has changed relatively little in most countries since its emergence about 100 years ago. However, a number of countries have adopted some promising innovative approaches in recent decades, sometimes assisted by international organizations such as UN-HABITAT, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank. They include:

COVER STORY

“The major urban challenges of the 21st century include the rapid growth of many cities and the decline of others, the expansion of the informal sector, and the role of cities in causing or mitigating climate change. Evidence from around the world suggests that contemporary urban planning has largely failed to address these challenges.” – Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. l

l

l

l

Strategic spatial planning, which does not address every part of a city but focuses on only those aspects or areas that are strategic or important to overall plan objectives. The use of spatial planning to integrate public sector functions, including injection of a spatial or territorial dimension into sectoral strategies. New land regularization and management approaches, which offer alternatives to the forced removal of informal settlements or neglect. Participatory processes and partnerships at the neighbourhood level, which include ‘participatory urban appraisal’, ‘participatory learning and action’ and ‘community action planning’, including ‘participatory budgeting’.

Urban population by region 2005-2050

l

l

New forms of master planning, which are bottom-up and participatory, oriented towards social justice and aiming to counter the effects of land speculation. Planning aimed at producing new spatial forms, such as compact cities and new urbanism, both of which are a response to challenges of urban sprawl and sustainable urbanization.

However, in many developing countries, older forms of master planning have persisted. Here, the most obvious problem with this approach is that it has failed to accommodate the ways of life of the majority of inhabitants in rapidly growing and largely poor and informal cities, and has often directly contributed to social and spatial marginalization. Unfortunately, urban planning systems in many parts of the world are not equipped to deal with this and other urban challenges of the 21st century and, as such, need to be reformed. Broader policy directions. If urban planning is to play a more effective role in sustainable urban development, a number of fundamental changes are necessary. The main broader policy directions, based on the innovative trends identified in the agency’s latest biennial flagship report, Planning Sustainable Cities: Global Report on Human Settlements 2009, are described below.

Source: UN 2008.

Reformed urban planning systems must fully and unequivocally address a number of major current and emerging urban challenges, especially climate change, rapid urbanization, poverty, informality and safety.

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COVER STORY

Urban planning

Infrastructure plans should recognize the importance of pedestrian zones

Reformed urban planning systems must be shaped by, and be responsive to the contexts from which they arise. In the developing world, especially in Af Africa and Asia, urban planning must prioritize the interrelated issues of rapid urbanization, urban poverty, informality, slums and access to basic services, medium-sized cities and the youth bulge observed in many countries. In developed, transition and a number of developing countries, urban planning will have to play a vital role in addressing the causes and impacts of climate change and ensuring sustainable urbanization, ageing, shrinking cities and multicultural composition of cities. In many other parts of the world, both developed and developing, urban planning should play a key role in enhancing urban safety by addressing issues of disaster preparedness, post-disaster and post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation, as well as urban crime and violence.

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Governments, both central and local, should increasingly take on a more central role in cities and towns in order to lead development initiatives and ensure that basic needs are met. This is increasingly being recognized and, to a large extent, is a result of the current global economic crisis, which has exposed the limits of the private sector — in terms of its resilience and future growth as well as the ability of the market to solve most urban problems. Urban planning has an important role to play in assisting governments and civil society to meet the urban challenges of the 21st century. A particularly important precondition for the success of urban planning systems is that countries should develop a national perspective on the role of urban areas, articulated in some form of national urban policy. This is not a new idea, but, as the world moves to a situation in which the urban pop-

Photo Š yarik miShin

ulation dominates numerically, it is more important than ever before that governments accept that urbanization can be a positive phenomenon and a precondition for improving access to services, economic and social opportunities, and a better quality of life. Capacity to enforce urban planning regulations, which is seriously lacking in many developing countries, should be given very high priority and should be developed on the basis of realistic standards. The regulation of land and property development, through statutory plans and development permits, is a vitally important role of the urban planning system. Yet, in many countries, especially in the developing world, outdated planning regulations and unaf unaffordable development standards (based on the experience of the much more affluent developed countries) are, paradoxically, one of the main reasons underlying the failure of enforcement.


Urban planning

COVER STORY

Other specific policy directions More specific policy directions in the reform of urban planning suggested in the Global Report will encompass institutional and regulatory frameworks, citizen participation in urban planning, urban informality, spatial structure of cities and provision of infrastructure, monitoring and evaluation of urban plans and urban planning education. Only the most significant ones are highlighted below. Institutional and regulatory frameworks for planning In the design and re-configuration of planning systems, careful attention should be given to identifying opportunities which can be built on, as well as pressures which could lead to the subversion and corruption of planning institutions. In particular, urban planning needs to be institutionally located in a way which allows it to play a role in creating urban investment and livelihood opportunities through responsive and collaborative processes. In addition, corruption at the local government level must be resolutely addressed through appropriate legislation and robust mechanisms. Urban planning can and should play a significant role in overcoming governance fragmentation in public policy formulation and decisionmaking, since most national and local development policies and related investments have a spatial dimension. It can do this most effectively through building horizontal and vertical relationships using place and territory as loci for linking planning with the activities of other policy sectors, such as infrastructure provision. Therefore, regulatory power needs to be combined with investment and broader public sector decision-making. Bridging the green and brown agendas In order to integrate the green and brown agendas in cities, urban local authorities should implement a comprehensive set of green policies and strategies with respect to urban design, energy, infrastructure, transport, waste and slums. These policies and strategies should include: increasing urban development density, on the broad basis of mixed land-use; renewable energy and car-

In the developing world urban planning must prioritize the issue of slums

bon neutral strategies, principally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as part of climate change mitigation measures; distributed green infrastructure strategies to expand small scale energy and water systems, as part of local economic development that is capable of enhancing sense of place; sustainable transport strategies to reduce fossil fuel use, urban sprawl and dependence on car-based transit; eco-efficiency strategies, including waste recycling, to achieve fundamental changes in the metabolism of cities; and much more effective approaches to developing ‘cities without slums’, at a much larger scale, focusing on addressing the challenges of poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation and environmental degradation in cities of the developing world. Many green innovations can, and should, be comprehensively integrated into statutory urban planning and development control systems, including planning and building standards and regulations. Recent experience has demonstrated the ef effectiveness of combining such a regulatory approach with partnerships between government, industry and communities in the development and implementation of local sustainability innovations. Participation, planning and politics Governments need to implement a number of minimum but critical measures with respect to the political and legal environment as well as financial and

Photo © mdmartian

Disaster management should play a principle role in future urban planning or more people will lose their homes Photo © nurettin k aya

human resources, in order to ensure that participation is meaningful, socially inclusive and contributes to improving urban planning. These measures should include: establishing a political system that allows and encourages active participation and genuine negotiation, including through vibrant civil society organizations, and is committed to addressing the needs and views of all citizens and investment actors; putting in place a legal basis for local politics and planning that specifies how the outcomes of participatory processes will influence plan preparation and decision-making; ensuring that local governments have sufficient responsibilities, resources and autonomy to support participatory processes; ensuring commitment of government and funding agents to resource distribution in order to support implementation of decisions arising from participatory planning processes, thus also making sure that participation has concrete outcomes; and enhancing the capacity

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COVER STORY

Urban planning

A definition of urban planning Definitions of planning have changed over time and are not the same around the world. Earlier views defined urban planning as physical design, enforced through land-use control and centred in the state. Current perspectives recognize the institutional shift from government to governance (although in some parts of the world planning is still centred in the state), the necessarily wider scope of planning beyond land use, and the need to consider how plans are implemented. Urban planning is therefore currently viewed as a self-conscious collective (societal) effort to imagine or re-imagine a town, city, urban region or wider territory and to translate the result into priorities for investment, conservation measures, new and upgraded areas of settlement, strategic infrastructure investments and principles of land-use regulation. Today, planning is expected to be able to take future generations into account, especially in relation to infrastructure investment, environmental management and quality of life. The term ‘planning’ also implies a mode of governance, and is therefore, not just a neutral technical exercise, but rather shaped by values that are fundamentally concerned with making ethical judgements. Source: excerpted from the Global Report on Human Settlements 2009

of professionals, in terms of their commitment and skills to facilitate participation, provide necessary technical advice and incorporate the outcomes of participation into planning and decision-making. Urban planning and informality Governments and local authorities must, unequivocally, recognize the important role of the informal sector and ensure that urban planning systems respond positively to this phenomenon, including through legislation. A three-step reform process is required for urban planning and governance to effectively respond to informality: firstly, recognizing the positive role played by urban informal development; secondly, considering revisions to policies, laws and regulations to facilitate informal sector operations; and, thirdly, strengthening the legitimacy and effectiveness of planning and regulatory systems on the basis of more realistic standards. More specific innovative and tried approaches to land development and use of space should be adopted and implemented if urban policy and planning are to effectively respond to informality. The first approach is pursuing alternatives to the forced eviction of slum dwellers and forced removal or closure of informal economic enterprises. For example, regulariza-

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tion and upgrading of informally developed areas is preferable to neglect or demolition. The second approach is the strategic use of planning tools such as construction of trunk infrastructure, guided land development and land readjustment. The third approach is collaborating with informal economic actors to manage public space and provide services, including through recognizing informal entrepreneurs’ property rights, allocating special purpose areas for informal activities and providing basic services. Planning, spatial structure of cities and provision of infrastructure To enhance the sustainable expansion of cities and facilitate the delivery of urban services, urban local authorities should formulate infrastructure plans as key elements of strategic spatial plans. This can promote more compact forms of urban expansion focused around accessibility and public transport. Other forms of infrastructure, including water and sanitation trunk infrastructure, should also be included. Infrastructure plans should recognize the importance of pedestrian and other forms of non-motorized movement, and where appropriate, they should be linked to other types of mega projects, as well as provide the means for protecting the urban poor from rising land costs and speculation, which are likely to result from new infrastructure provision.

Regional governance structures are required to manage urban growth that spreads across administrative boundaries. This is increasingly the case in all regions of the world. Spatial planning in these contexts should provide a framework for the coordination of urban policies and major infrastructure projects, harmonization of development standards, comprehensively addressing the ecological footprints of urbanization, and a space for public discussion of these issues. The monitoring and evaluation of urban plans Urban planning systems should integrate monitoring and evaluation as permanent features. This should include clear indicators that are aligned with plan goals, objectives and policies. Urban plans should also explicitly explain their monitoring and evaluation philosophies, strategies and procedures. The use of too many indicators should be avoided and focus should be on those indicators for which information is easy to collect. All evaluations should involve extensive consultation with, and contributions by, all plan stakeholders. This can be achieved through, for example, participatory urban appraisal methods. Experience has shown that this can enhance plan quality and effectiveness through insights and perspectives that might otherwise not have been captured by the formal planmaking process. Most regular monitoring and evaluation should focus on the implementation of site, subdivision and neighbourhood plans. The outcomes and impacts of large-scale urban plans are difficult to evaluate because of the myriad of influences and factors that are at play over time. It therefore makes more sense for monitoring and evaluation to focus on plans at lower spatial levels, i.e. site, subdivision and neighbourhood plans. Planning education There is a significant need for updating and curriculum reform in many urban


Urban planning

Planning – an ancient history Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of sophisticated urban planning around the world. The Middle East is home to some of the oldest cities in the world, and Old Jericho is believed to be the first city on earth. A considerable degree of planning competence was necessary to produce materials such as the sun-dried bricks that were used to build its homes, a large trench, a tower and other structures found within Jericho as well as the wall that protected the town from external threats. The ancient cities of the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia attained the peak of their development about 2,800 BC. Cities in Greece and Italy show the earliest evidence of urban planning in Western Europe. Their location and structure were largely influenced by military concerns. For instance, the position of Athens on an isolated fortified hilltop with the Acropolis. Latin America had urban civilizations of great antiquity such as the Maya, Aztec and Inca civilizations. Located in the Yucatan, the Mayans became prominent around 250 AD in present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, El Salvador and northern Belize. The Mayans were already living in planned urban settlements by 2,600 BC. The Inca Empire stretched for about 4,000 kilometres from Quito in present-day Ecuador to the Maule River in Chile. Evidence of an elaborate ancient architecture includes temple-pyramids, palaces and observatories. The urban infrastructure of the Incas includes 22,500 kilometres of well-planned and maintained footpaths. In Asia, cities dating back to about 3,500 BC existed in Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus Valley and at Harapa in the Punjab. These cities had sophisticated spatial design structures, well-designed systems of covered drainage and broad paved streets. In ancient China, cities were typically constructed around a gridiron street pattern. Cities were often enclosed within walls. Up until the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), urban planning in ancient China was rigid and highly centralized. In Africa many ancient towns and cities were also carefully planned in antiquity. These include Meroë, Axum, Kumbi-Saleh, Timbuktu, Djenne, Ife and Gao in north and west Africa, Great Zimbabwe, Kilwa, Sofala, Mombasa and Zanzibar in the south and east. Meroë was established about 560 BC and served as the capital of the Black Kingdom of Kush. East and central Europe also has a history of urbanization dating back thousands of years. Nesebar (in present-day Bulgaria) is one of Europe’s oldest cities. The city’s spatial structure was largely influenced by the Greeks who colonized the region. As far back as 1272, Dubrovnik had well-developed urban planning regulations, which included elements addressing matters of general welfare, health and sanitation.

COVER STORY

Some planning schools in developed countries do not educate students to work in national contexts different from their own, thus limiting their mobility and posing a problem for developing country students who want to return home to practice their skills. The ‘one-world’ approach to planning education is an attempt to remedy this and should be encouraged. This can be facilitated by the strengthening of professional organizations and international professional networks. Such organizations and associations should be inclusive, as other experts with non-planning professional backgrounds are significantly involved in urban planning. In conclusion Over the next few years, among UN-HABITAT’s most important work will be raising global awareness of sustainable urbanization. This will include the role of urban planning in sustainable urbanization, as well as contributing to the reform of this very important tool along the directions suggested above. In doing so, UN-HABITAT will work closely with relevant partners willing to be part of this process, including professional associations. Of particular importance in this process will be the new World Urban Campaign, which focuses on promoting sustainable urbanization. The campaign, launched in late 2008, will be implemented by governments, urban local authorities and non-governmental partners, with support from UN-HABITAT. u

Additional research accompanying this article by Edlam Yemeru and Olubusiyi Sarr of UN-HABITAT

planning schools, particularly in many developing and transition countries where urban planning education has not kept up with current challenges and emerging issues. Planning schools should embrace innovative planning ideas. In particular, there should be increased focus on skills in participatory planning, communication and negotiation, ethics and key social values. Updated curricula should also enhance understanding in a number of areas, some emerging and others simply neglected in the

past, including urban informality, cities and climate change, local economic development, natural and human-made disasters, and urban crime and violence. Capacity-building short courses for practicing planners and related professionals have an important role to play in this. Urban planning schools should educate students to work in different world contexts by adopting the ‘oneworld’ approach.

* Naison D. Mutizwa-Mangiza is the Editor-in-Chief of UN-HABITAT’s Global Report on Human Settlements 2009, titled Planning Sustainable Cities, on which this article draws. The report, reviewed in this issue of the magazine, assesses the effectiveness of urban planning as a tool for dealing with the unprecedented challenges facing 21st-century cities and for enhancing the environmental, social and economic goals of sustainable urbanization. It also identifies promising directions for the reform of urban planning.

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COVER STORY

Urban planning

How Paris plans to go ‘grand and green’ Turning a city once famously dubbed as “the capital of the 19th century” into a “postKyoto metropolis” is the challenge public authorities in Paris have set themselves for the next decade. Today’s broad consensus in favour of what Mayor Bertrand Delanoë called “a transformative rather than an enlarging” type of urban design includes French President Nicolas Sarkozy together with the French and foreign architects who have been shortlisted. The ambitions and the odds are such, though, says the writer Thierry Naudin, that the facile pun on ‘Grand Paris’ and ‘grands paris’ (French for ‘big wagers’) may well be justified.

Three out of four people travel to work by car in Paris

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Photo © eric chen


Urban planning

P

aris has long been considered as une métropole at home and abroad – except by the elected and other officials in charge. The reality dawned only recently on the city council when, as in other major conurbations, the need to curb carbon emissions and energy consumption became overwhelming. Mr. Sarkozy talks of “la Région Capitale” and the architects of “le Grand Paris” (greater Paris). Behind the rhetorical flourish, though, all are well aware that what is at stake here is a major, overdue economic and environmental transformation of the French capital – an area with a population of 11.5 million and a gross domestic product equivalent to no less than 40 percent of China’s. An elusive metropolis The Paris metropolis remains elusive partly because of France’s weak urban culture, with planning functions until recently the preserve of civil engineers. Swapping dour local technocrats for world-class designers with a strong sense of symbolism, the 2008 Greater Paris competition shortlisted 10 multi-functional teams led by architects, including the heavyweights Jean Nouvel, Christian de Portzamparc and Richard Rogers. The boundaries of Paris as a metropolis hardly bothered the teams. The only proposed extension, along the Seine valley, would link Paris to Le Havre – France’s busiest seaport on the shores of the Channel, which in turn is one of the world’s busiest seaways. Sarkozy favours a scheme which, combined with a link to northern waterways, would bring Paris closer to the LondonRotterdam-Rhine-Milan economic axis, as would, too, interconnections between the high-speed rail lines putting Paris only two or three hours away from other major western European cities. Otherwise, the rural fringes of the conurbation should be there to stay, instead of being viewed as potential land reserves as has been the case for decades. Natural boundaries should even be reinforced with a new, one-million tree forest acting as a carbon sink next to Roissy airport, the busiest on the continent. From an institutional point of view, today’s Paris fails to act as a metropolis. In an area fragmented into some 350 municipalities, too many important decisions are not

COVER STORY

made at the right scale, if at all. Individual municipalities control building permits. The extension of bicycle hiring beyond Paris city limits runs into legal snags. Municipalities along the proposed route have persistently blocked a much-needed circular railway since 1965. Relations between the City of Paris and other municipalities are skewed by population and wealth disparities. With its historical concentration of political, administrative, financial and cultural power, the city to this day stands as a centre of immaterial production, while lowly material functions are relegated to suburbs. Gentrification combines with the ruling classes’ hold on Paris to preserve it as a museum-like classical European city (which reputedly cost Paris the 2012 Olympic Games), but dynamic suburbs strive to leverage their potential and embrace the 21st century. Radial-concentric road and rail systems testify to the enduring socio-economic subordination of periphery to centre. The rare suburban by-pass dates to 17th century kings’ insistence on easy access to hunting grounds and favourite ladies. Poor cross-lines of communication subsequently ensured social control over working-class suburbs. Today, the dual Paris rail system offers only eight suburban inter-connections, compared to London’s 22; the average distance between bridges over the Seine in the suburbs is four kilometres, compared with 400 metres in Paris. Grand and green Given this background, the architect Mr. Portzamparc sees the post-Kyoto metropolitan challenge as “maximizing production of ‘urban values’ against consumption of ‘production factors’.” With their diffuse nature, energy-related greenhouse gas emissions nullify man-made ring-fencing, such as between city and suburbs. This chimes in with the approach the 10 shortlisted teams take to metropolitan Paris: where Mr. Portzamparc talks of turning urbanized into full-fledged urban areas, the LIN team calls for “treating what lies out there as a coherent whole”. It takes only three ratios to encapsulate the nexus between a dysfunctional Paris metropolis and post-Kyoto exigencies – and with them the daily predicament of millions: (1) only one in five live within the narrow confines of the City of Paris, but (2) more than three out of five work there, and (3) in the whole area,

Densely populated Paris needs more public transport Photo © eric chen

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COVER STORY

Urban planning

Bikes in Paris are one solution to cutting exhaust emissions

three in four transits resort to cars instead of inadequate, saturated public transport. More than undergoing any crisis-time conversion to green policies, politicians have simply come to realize that the many people on low incomes or unemployment benefits can no longer afford escalating petrol costs, nor can those struggling with the credit they took to buy property at the peak of the market. In their bid to make Paris less land- and energy-hungry, the architects focus on public transport, with only Rogers advocating motor traffic restrictions and electric cars. President Sarkozy has endorsed proposals for railway line extensions, together with a plan to make Paris accessible from anywhere in the area within 30 minutes, which involves a highperformance, high-capacity circular railway on the outskirts. Critics claim that this will encourage urban sprawl and that the closer suburbs should be chosen instead, on socioeconomic and demographic grounds. More generally, the architects’ response, as broadly endorsed by political leaders, is in tune with current trends in urban design. They suggest a multi-polar metropolis that leverages local potential through co-ordinated projects. Instead of further

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Photo © Jemima raman

extensions, they advocate a more dense or intense urban area, with a preference for residential economics that enhances local access to jobs and services, short-distance mobility and sense of community. In a major policy speech in late April, Sarkozy endorsed the notion of a functional and social mix in every prospective hub when he announced the end of zoning. Also to be lifted is the maze of planning and building regulations that have stalled renovation for too many years. Deregulating the skyline Deregulation should facilitate a major common plank in the architects’ designs: for the sake of densification, they want to turn openair railways and highways from dividing into unifying lines. Most would be buried, with gardens and much-needed modern housing built on top (as could also be the case with car parks and shopping centres). Highways would be turned into urban boulevards; even on the very banks of the Seine and using new technologies, awkward land plots would be developed; iconic highrise buildings (a big no-no so far) would project today’s ossified skyline into the fu-

ture. Instead of acting as dodgy no man’s lands between city and suburb, the parks on the edge of Paris would be treated like New York’s own Central Park, i.e., with a proper urban environment all around. Lifting restrictions and releasing more resources would bring a variety of benefits, on top of additional land-related tax revenues and further downward pressure on weakening land values. More office space would become available, especially to the many foreign businesses eager for a Paris postcode. Deregulation might also make it easier to double the number of newly-built housing units (to 70,000 per year), as pledged by President Sarkozy. In this respect, and as in many developed-country cities, the problem in Paris lies with the quality more than the quantity of housing: the population has stabilized on the whole, but the more dynamic segments move out of the city in search of better accommodation. More generally, as already prescribed by the Paris City Council, roof-top gardens and solar panels should become the rule from 2014 onward. These are a few of the salient points of designs that have the merit of triggering a dynamic, but remain hostages to several vagaries and unknowns, including financial. The current economic environment finds public authorities cash-strapped and businesses reluctant to commit to long-term development partnerships. Local business taxes are to be scrapped, paving the way for more redistribution across municipalities; however, rich or poor, these will wait until a well-defined alternative emerges. Moreover, planning regulations are only to be swapped for stringent environmental standards. Nobody can tell whether deregulation will eventually yield overwhelming control of property and development to the profit-making sector. Extant government schemes continue to subsidize detached housing and associated urban sprawl. Local government is to be reformed across France, but nobody knows whether this will remedy the unwieldy co-ordination brought about by all-out decentralization. Finally, suspicions of hidden agendas are likely to mount in Paris ahead of hotly contested regional polls in 2010. One sure thing remains though: it is high time for Paris to move on – from the 19th to the 21st century. u


Urban planning

COVER STORY

Renovating Beijing’s ancient heart Reconstructing the Chinese capital’s old Chongwen District is a huge task started in 1993 and expected to continue at least until 2015. This project covers about 1.3 square kilometres in an area once home to more than 10,000 poor families who moved into new apartments. Coordinated by the Beijing Municipal government under the guidance of the Chongwen District government, the project is run by an international real estate development company based in Hong Kong. Here Xiao Ou Chen, the Director of Planning and Design and Chief Architect of New World China Land (Beijing) explains one of the world’s biggest urban infrastructure and planning projects.

New gardens have improved the quality of life for Chongwen residents

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COVER STORY

Urban planning

T

he historical city of Chongwen District is located in the heart of Beijing, at the southeast side of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The famous Temple of Heaven, a UN-listed international heritage site, is also located in this area. It has profound historical and cultural background with over 600 years of history. However, living conditions were very poor and the public infrastructure dilapidated. Most of the sewerage, heating and water supply pipelines, built in 1950s and 1960s were in a virtual state of collapse. The living space for most of the households was too small, with several generations living together in low and dark homes. Thus the reconstruction of this historical city became an urgent need.

District to a business, commerce and tourist circle after systematic planning and elaborate construction, which forms up a vigorous Chongwenmen Commercial Circle. Together with completed infrastructure and large residential community, this historical city has taken on a new life. Large residential apartment buildings have been constructed in the area – the New World Garden, Xinjing Garden, Xinyu Garden, Xinyi Garden – all of which have seen a considerable rise in living standards for the area’s residents. The total building area has reached 800,000 square metres, and some 40,000 residents have moved into the new buildings. The apartments on average are three times the size of the cramped, overcrowded homes in which people used to live.

Priorities, targets and strategies Based on years of successful development experiences in Hong Kong, New World developed public infrastructures, commercial business centres and large urban residential areas with careful planning and management aimed at improving the image of the city and making it friendlier to its residents, so that they could avoid long commuting distances, live, work, shop and enjoy their recreation in one district in a high-quality living environment.

Sustainable development New World has applied the latest environmental standards in its work, and is constantly on the look-out for new environmentally friendly materials and energy-saving measures. Keeping sustainable development as its long-term goal, we have focused throughout on sustainable development. In an example of preservation, the Huashi Street Mosque built more than 500 years ago has been preserved in its original location, with its surrounds specially landscaped to showcase its charm. There are many old trees in the reconstruction site and New World has applied many planning methods and modern technologies to preserve them where they have always stood, to ensure that they are carefully relocated. In the process of demolition and construction, large quantities of old building materials are being reused. New World have used these recycled materials in the road paving, and the elevation of low ground, thus reducing waste.

The process During the 15 years of development so far, New World has been focusing on three main aspects – infrastructure reconstruction, the redevelopment of modern urban commercial areas, and the construction of the urban residential district. Overall, since 1993, New World has invested over CNY 16 billion (USD 2.3 billion) on new infrastructure and reconstruction of damaged home. Completion is expected in another five to eight years. What’s new The once narrow Chongwai Street now a 70-metre-wide avenue, and other key streets, Guang’an, Ci Qikou, Beikou and Xingfu, were also improved. Beijing’s first underground passageway system has been constructed. Phase I of the Beijing New World Centre, completed in 1998, was evaluated as one of the Top Ten Architecture Achievements in Beijing in the 1990s. The New World Deparment Store has since opened. In 15 years, New World China Land has gradually re-developed the whole Chongwenmen

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Promoting tourism To fully develop the historical and cultural advantages of Chongwen District, New World has planned the tourism economy based on the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, the Beijing Railway Station and the nearby tourism organizations. New World has turned the three-quarter kilometre east Huashi Street, north of Xinjing Garden, into a tourist street, with historic and cultural features.

The New World Shopping Plaza has brought money to the region Photo © new world china land

Lessons learned As an international developer based in Hong Kong, our development in the mainland must fully comply with local features and regulations. We constantly need to learn to think from local perspective. During the development of New World Xinjing Garden, one of our first residential community developments, the housing units were based Hong Kong designs. However, Beijing and Hong Kong have different climates. So design must consider these local conditions. For instance, bedroom windows need to face south to absorb more sunlight; also the building material has to be suitable for Beijng’s dry, windy weather, instead of Hong Kong’s warm, damp conditions. Looking ahead In the next five to eight years, New World, keeping a balance between tradition and modernity, will continue to develop approximately 1.6 million square metres of urban space, providing housing, commercial and public infrastructure both within the historical area and beyond. u


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Afgha nistan Moza : mbiqu citizens on the e’s str uggle fro after ntline the flood s

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Urban World is the leading publication for those responsible for the social and economic growth of the world’s cities, providing a unique source of practical solutions and information on sustainable development. Each issue provides cutting-edge coverage of developments in: Water and wastewater Renewable and green energy l Transport and infrastructure l Financing urban development l Tourism and heritage l Disaster management l l

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FOR A BETTER URBAN FUTURE

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ANALYSIS

Special report: Urban life in Afghanistan

Dateline Afghanistan – a report from the frontline Living and working in Afghanistan is very daunting and dangerous. But the rewards are great as UN-HABITAT’s dedicated staff see the progress they are making. Dominic O’Reilly, a Londonbased journalist who used to work for a women’s NGO in the war-torn country recounts here how well a rehabilitation programme is working despite all the odds.

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Teenage girls enjoying their sewing class in Kabul’s District 13

Photo © d. o’reilly


Special report: Urban life in Afghanistan

B

y early 2008, no outsider could enter Safian, a settlement of 20,000 residents in Lashkar Gah, the main city in Helmand province in Af Afghanistan’s troubled south. A stronghold of Taliban supporters and drug lords, it was one of the most dangerous areas in the most volatile province of Afghanistan. In June 2008, shortly after the murder of an NGO worker living there, a municipal team sent to enlarge a road in Safian was attacked and two police officers killed. The thought of Safian becoming a standard bearer for planning a better urban future in Afghanistan seemed laughable. Yet less than a year later, the city’s mayor was able to walk freely in the area, discussing the improvements brought by the new road with residents and planning the distribution of land titles. Security there is still tight and both foreign and local NGO staff keep a low profile but work continues. UN-HABITAT has set up six local community development councils in the settlement and is working with residents to develop a place where they are proud to live. Making a difference in Helmand for the better It is an impressive success story for UNHABITAT and a demonstration of its commitment to Afghanistan, which began in 1995 and currently sees the agency working in 20 of the country’s 34 provinces. Talking to UNHABITAT staff who operate in the south of Afghanistan it is clear that they are determined to carry on working there and their motto seems to be, ‘you can’t just abandon a whole section of the country’. Safian was created in the late 1960s by members of the Safian tribe displaced by the government from the eastern Afghan province of Laghman following tribal disputes there. These first settlers received empty plots and land titles. Ten years later, members of the Haroti tribe came from the Afghan province of Paktia of their own will, joined by a few other minorities. None received any land title, and in the late 1970s, the municipality classified the area they settled as “informal” or unfit to live on. By late 2007, Safian residents lived in harsh conditions: uneven lanes prevented easy movement, there was no access to clean water, no drainage or waste removal and

ANALYSIS

neither school nor health centre. Unemployment was high, and its families were among the poorest in Lashkar Gah. The Governor was opposed to upgrading the informal parts of the neighbourhood, and there were regular conflicts between residents and authorities on land ownership. Government officials could only enter Safian with armed escorts, and violent clashes with so-called AntiGovernment Elements (AGEs) and local drug lords were frequent, leaving families caught in the crossfire. In 2008 a group of families went to ask the minister of urban development for the upgrading of Safian. He agreed but said they must obtain permission from the municipality. It took the intervention of UN-HABITAT, whose staff acted as mediators, for all parties to agree to collaborate. In the second part of 2008 the municipality enlarged and straightened the roads in the settlement, opening the way for more outside support. By early 2009 UN-HABITAT had set up six elected Community Development Councils (CDCs) in Safian, enabling residents to plan for the improvement of their areas. Quick impact projects were also launched between these communities to benefit the whole neighbourhood, including building and repairing drains and culverts and levelling and resurfacing roads. At the same time, the British government’s Department for International Development evaluated the UN-HABITAT work it had funded since 2007 in Lashkar Gah and highlighted marked improvements in the living conditions of urban inhabitants, and in communities’ relations with each other and with the government. The city is visibly cleaner, the level of conflict within communities has been reduced as has the number of AGEs present and residents are actively working with the municipality to manage the city. Not all improvements are due to this upgrading project alone, but it has been instrumental in establishing peace and developing trust in formerly divided communities and between communities and authorities who once seemed irreconcilable. Abdul Bari Balakarzai, UN-HABITAT’s National Project Manager for strengthening municipal and community development in Helmand, said that at the national level, the project is contributing to improving the way government considers and undertakes urban planning.

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Special report: Urban life in Afghanistan

An Afghan picnic

“It obtained an official authorization from the Minister of Urban Development to upgrade informal settlements of Lashkar Gah earlier considered as illegal and ineligible for upgrading. That decision is an important precedent; it does not open the way for the upgrading of all settlements considered illegal, but shows the government’s willingness to adapt their directives to local circumstances.” Mr. Balakarzai added: “The planning methods refined through this project at the community and municipal levels are being integrated as best practices in the National Policy for Urban Upgrading and so examples from the project will be references to be replicated countrywide.” Helmand so often overshadows the rest of Af Afghanistan and it is important to remember that the country’s diversity of landscape, climate, ethnicity and type of settlements makes for what could fairly be called a unique challenge.

A girl proudly shows off a new drain in her neighbourhood in Kabul’s District 13

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Photo © d. o’reilly

A world away in Panjshir The Panjshir valley is a world away from the sun-baked furnace of Helmand and is, even by Afghan standards, an extraordinary place. The valley and its fertile agricultural land lies three hours’ drive north of the capital Kabul. It is surrounded on three sides by imposing mountains and less than 5 percent of the land is flat, which helps to explain why it was the only part of the country which neither the Russians nor the Taliban in their day could conquer.


Special report: Urban life in Afghanistan

Photo © d. o’reilly

A house in Kabul’s District 13 rebuilt with support from UN-HABITAT Photo © d. o’reilly

This has left the Panjshiris with a strong sense of being in control of their own destiny. They have supposedly told the Afghan Government not to bother sending them Provincial Governors as they’ll pick who they want to do the job and send anyone else back to Kabul. In our armoured Land Cruiser, we crisscrossed mountains, stopped at the tomb of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the ‘Lion of the Panjshir’ who led the resistance to the Russians and forded part of the Panjshir River, one of the few fast-flowing pieces of water

Photo © d. o’reilly

Afghan hospitality can be overwhelming

in this drought-hit country. Along the way we passed numerous hulks of Russian tanks, rusting memorials to Moscow’s futile dreams of subduing the Afghans. From Massoud’s tomb we made our way back down into the valley, driving along a stream this time to meet with members of a Community Development Council (CDC). This was set up with support from UN-HABITAT five years ago as part of the Afghan Government’s National Solidarity Programme (NSP). The NSP was established with significant input from UN-HABITAT and operates predominantly in rural areas which, in Afghanistan, make up most of the country. Once a council has been elected, members are trained in financial management, procurement, technical skills and transparency. They then use a model to develop a Community Development Plan (CDP), which maps out development requirements and priorities and subproject proposals are created for funding applications. The National Solidarity Programme provides direct Block Grant transfers to a bank account established by the council for activities such as building roads, hydro-electric power schemes and school buildings. Block Grants are calculated at USD 200 per family with an average grant of USD 33,000 and maximum of USD 60,000 per community. UN-HABITAT is the facilitating partner for NSP programme in nine provinces, with op-

ANALYSIS

erations in 2,848 communities. Zmari, head of the Community Development Council which represents the 360 families in the village we visited, showed us the site where a new medical clinic was being built. He and his deputy were shifting bricks under the hot sun and so were happy to stop for a cup of the green tea – which seems to power this country – and explain what his CDC has achieved. He sent some small boys to climb the nearby trees and soon apricots and peaches were showering down. We took those and some fresh mulberries, washed them all in a stream and settled down to an impromptu picnic. However poor an Afghan may be, he or she will always find something to offer guests. As he munched on the fruit, Zmari told of how the council started with infrastructure projects such as new roads and walls to hold back the streams and prevent flooding with help from locals and he donated part of the land on which the clinic will stand. Recently they have done plenty of work on conflict resolution. “There was a dispute over a parcel of land which had led to years of fighting between families,” Zmari said. “The CDC decided how the land would be shared, got the signatures of both parties and sent the agreement to the local governor. At first people weren’t keen on the council but once they saw it was local people working for local people they accepted the idea.”

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ANALYSIS

Special report: Urban life in Afghanistan

Photo © d. o’reilly

A student gets a sum right - Kabul numeracy class

Meanwhile, back in Kabul… On my return to Kabul, there was a volleyball match going on in the UN-HABITAT compound with the Afghan staff giving it their all, resulting in loud arguments every time there was a close point. With the constant threat of terrorist attack requiring security measures such as checking under every car for bombs after every journey, it is important to relax. That can be harder for the international staff, many of whom live permanently at the UN Guest House which, for all its poolside barbeques on Friday lunchtimes, can feel like a gilded prison. Scott Gibbons, Chief Technical Adviser for UN-HABITAT’s Returnee Reintegration Programme, has spent three years in Afghanistan spread over two periods and has noticed a change. An American who has worked in, among other places, India, Pakistan and Iraq immediately after Saddam Hussein was deposed,

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he said that Kabul was “remarkably normal” until the suicide attack on the Hotel Serena (on 14 January 2008). “Back then, I had a long beard and spoke good Farsi and I walked where I liked and no-one bothered me,” he said. “Now security is a barrier and I wonder if the locals are afraid of being associated with a foreigner. Most ex-pats live in small rooms in secure compounds in Kabul and you can’t walk anywhere. I have a garden and keep myself busy with that, which gives some kind of normal life. Two years ago you could just head off to someone’s office, now you have to get security clearance to go anywhere.” He respects the attitude of his UN-HABITAT colleagues whom, he says, “are clearly here to do good rather than make a lot of money” but feels that the shortness of tenure of staff in Af Afghanistan can make work difficult. “It has the effect of people not taking on a lot of projects because they’re aware of the

difficulties of seeing things through. Often, by the time you’re ready to do something with a person, they’ve left. Despite that, I feel we are making a contribution and I know that just our presence here is appreciated by local people.” Michael Slingsby, the UN-HABITAT Country Representative, took up his position earlier this year (2009). With more than two decades’ experience of working for governments and NGOs in Asia, he is a down-to-earth Englishman who is clearly unflappable. He was quickly impressed by his staff. “This is the best job I’ve ever had,” he said. “That’s down to the talent and commitment of the staff and the circumstances in which they work and what they’ve managed to achieve. We need to look at some of the projects and see how to develop them but I’m impressed by what I’ve seen so far.” In Kabul, it was interesting to see how so many of the projects joined up. In District 13 of the capital which was populated almost


Special report: Urban life in Afghanistan

entirely by Hazaras of the country’s Shi’ite minority, it was clear how the projects had combined to make a huge difference. As with most of Kabul, the district had been hammered during the civil war which broke out after the 1989 Soviet withdrawal that ended in the Taliban seizing power. More than half of the residents had fled to Iran, Pakistan or other parts of Afghanistan and had returned to find their homes and streets destroyed. UN-HABITAT has helped to rebuild houses with the home-owners contributing money, labour or both. It has installed or repaired drains, which have brought health benefits and also widened roads to increase safety and access, often thanks to local people donating the land needed to push the road back. Back to school The Community Development Councils are functioning well and the community is also benefiting from the Literacy and Community Empowerment Programme (LCEP). This programme operates in 200 communities in five provinces. It starts with literacy and numeracy classes, quickly followed by the creation of a savings group. Once the savings group is established, the students then benefit from vocational training of their choice and have the funds to put their new-found skills to good use. In District 13 we visited groups of women having literacy and numeracy classes and they were bursting with pride at receiving an education that had been denied them under the Taliban. We also visited a sewing class where girls were enjoying their vocational training and talking about how they planned to set up their own tailoring businesses. The girls giggled away in the manner of teenagers around the world. But all agreed that the improved infrastructure had made a huge difference to the health and prosperity of the district and they were pleased that, through the CDC, the community had a voice and a way of making its own decisions. It was quite a surprise being able to have a free and easy chat with young Afghan women because segregation of the sexes – especially when foreigners are involved – remains a part of everyday life. To see these girls plan their future and talk of setting up businesses as an intention rather than a dream shows that progress is being made.

Youth networks That was made even clearer in the desert settlement of Mazar-i-Sharif, the fourth largest city in the country and home to the famous Blue Mosque. Like most of Afghanistan, the roads are dirt tracks with huge ruts and sharp stones and, with Afghans treating driving as a contact sport and many farmers grazing their sheep and goats on the rubbish at the roadside, getting around was a matter of shutting your eyes and hoping for the best. I was glad just to make it to a youth council centre and what awaited me showed that, if Afghanistan’s roads show little sign of progress then its youth certainly has. The Youth Empowerment Programme aimed to increase the role of young Afghan women and men in the reconstruction and development of their country by establishing a network of female and male Local Youth Councils. After training, the members become actively involved in the social, cultural, sporting and economic life of their communities, strengthening local governance through civic education courses and linking to similar youth networks in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. The pilot phase established 120 Local Youth Councils (60 girls and 60 boys) in six provinces and 2,600 young people (1,300 girls and 1,300 boys) have been trained in civic education including local governance, leadership, management, youth development planning, project management and design, networking and communication and public speaking. The young people were staggeringly impressive. They were humble about what they had learned through the programme and determined to help their community decide on its needs and to train and encourage the next generation to play its part. Several of the young men and women had become voter registration officers for the Af Afghan presidential election, ignoring threats and intimidation to, as they put it ‘support democracy in our country’. Zahri Husseini, a 22-year-old woman who trained as a teacher and now teaches literacy and numeracy on the LCEP programme as well as editing a magazine for the youth council is clear what she wants to do. “I’ve learnt about management and how to write proposals and get things done and this has transformed my life and future. I would like to be the head of the women’s directo-

ANALYSIS

rate in Balkh (the province in which Mazar lies), help women become educated and go into government, teaching or anything which helps our people to develop.” It was inspirational and showed a positive side of Afghanistan. The ever lurking dangers However, my trip was to have a sting in the tail. The day after the visit to the youth council was my last full day in Afghanistan and a Friday, when most workplaces are closed, so the UN-HABITAT staff invited me to a picnic near the Friendship Bridge on the Uzbek border. Having obtained security clearance for the trip, three of them arrived in a pick-up truck at the UN Hostel 10 minutes after we’d arranged to meet. The weather had cooled from the desert heat and the wind was whipping up the sand as we left Mazar and set out on what was, for once, a fairly well-maintained tarmac road. The mood was cheery until, when we’d been driving for about half an hour, we saw an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) convoy and a check point. As we approached, the soldiers waved us down the dirt track which ran parallel to the road. The reason quickly became clear. A suicide bomber had blown up himself and his car on the road immediately ahead of us. Some troops were patrolling on foot while others were washing the remains of petrol, car and human beings off the road. Judging by the state of the clean up, the explosion had only happened a few minutes earlier. Had we left Mazar on time we could well have been caught up in it and, as we were in an old pick-up rather than an armour plated vehicle, we would almost certainly have been killed. For once I was grateful for the Afghans’ casual disregard of punctuality. The mood became sombre, not helped by the wind whipping up a sandstorm that darkened the morning sky. We continued but the picnic spot was closed because of the bombing and, in silence, we returned to Mazar. Balkh province is regarded as one of the more peaceful and safe parts of the country and the security staff had heard no whispers about any planned suicide bombs. The attack was a brutal reminder of the random dangers and pressures that staff working in Afghanistan must face every day. u

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BEST PRACTICES

Disaster management in Mozambique

Planning a better future for Mozambique MAPUTO, 12 January (Reuters) - Torrential rains have killed 25 people in central Mozambique in the last two weeks and flooding could devastate the region by March, authorities said on Monday. The victims, mostly children, drowned while trying to swim through raging waters, said Belarmino Chivambo, spokesman for Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management.

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Roads in Mozambique’s coastal areas are subject to flooding

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Photo © StiG nyG yGaard Gaard

hat report in January this year is a typical news dispatch from Mozambique. Each time it happens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of homes get destroyed, forcing the authorities to set up emergency shelters, and move quickly to fix roads, bridges and electricity pylons that are either destroyed or damaged. In the incident described above, the Zambezi River in central Mozambique, which stretches 500 kilometres, was swollen by rains in neighbouring Malawi and Zambia. In early 2007, floods in central Mozambique killed 45 people and left 285,000 homeless, while cyclone Favio displaced another 140,000 people. In fact, nearly every year for the past 50 years a cyclone has hit this southern African country with devastating results. The provinces most at risk are Nampula and Inhambane. Today, people still talk about the worst flooding of all to hit this former Portuguese colony as if it happened yesterday: the terrible floods in 2000-2001 which claimed 700 lives and drove half a million citizens from their homes. Also fresh on people’s minds are the severe droughts, the famine and a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992. Combined, all of these are reported to have claimed one million lives. Mozambique is crossed by nine international rivers that flow into the sea along its vast 2,400 kilometres of coastline. These include three of Africa’s most important rivers – the Rovuma in the north, the Zambezi in central Mozambique, and further south, the Limpopo.


Disaster management in Mozambique

At least 2.5 million people live in Mozambique’s coastal areas, surviving on rain-fed farming and fishing. But migration to coastal towns is placing more people, infrastructure and services at risk, according to a study by the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC – Instituto Nacional de Gestão de Calamidades). Even greater Maputo, home to approximately three million people, its port, rail links and oil facilities, which are on an estuary, are also subject to flooding. “We have to come up with solutions that people had perhaps not thought of before,” says Mr. Silva J. Magaia, the Habitat Programme Manager for Mozambique, citing the idea of cyclone-resistant elevated public buildings like schools and even homes in the flood zones. “In the south of the country there is chronic drought, and we had an earthquake in Manica Province which reached as far as Maputo City. So you can see that disaster preparedness is a major priority for the government.” Like Mr. Mathias Spaliviero, UN-HABITAT’s Chief Technical Adviser in Mozambique, they agree that because of Mozambique’s vulnerability, it is important for the agency to push the regional agenda and involve neighbouring countries in disaster mitigation. At the same time, they agree with government officials that the INGC is now working well with United Nations bodies and other international organizations in coping with the country’s multiple disasters. They are certain that the impact of the 2007 floods and the January rains this year would have been far worse, had the INGC not benefitted from past experience. “When we had floods in 2008, for instance, we did not have the problems we had before,” explains Mr. Arlindo Dgedge, National Director of Territorial Planning at the Ministry for the Coordination of Environmental Affairs. “Our plans were ready, we had learned many lessons, and most importantly, there was widespread awareness.”

UN-HABITAT is currently engaged in 10 projects in Mozambique. One example of the agency’s work in the country is the recently completed project for the improvement of water and sanitation delivery in Quelimane

Literature that helps the people of Mozambique live with floods © un-habitat

BEST PRACTICES

City which lies just north of Zambezi. It strengthened the capacity of the City Council in managing water and sanitation and slum upgrading, planning systems for better drainage and road systems, and setting up an effective waste management system. UN-HABITAT worked on the USD 500,000 project with the Danish international development agency, DANIDA, the Cities Alliance, the World Bank, WaterAid and UNICEF, the UN children’s fund. A similar project on water and sanitation is currently underway in Beira and Dondo cities as part of UN-HABITAT’s Water for African Cities Programme. A simple but elegant idea A beautifully paved road, newly renovated thanks to funding from the European Union, winds north from Maputo towards Chokwe in the Limpopo River valley through groves of cashew nut trees in a wilderness that looks like paradise. Slightly elevated in this area, it passes by the settlement of Maniquenique, home to a community of 1,500 people living and farming near the banks of the Limpopo. At the height of the dry southern African winter season in June, the trickle of water in the Limpopo barely seemed to be flowing. But come the first rains hundreds of kilometres away upstream in Botswana or Zimbabwe, or right here, and all too quickly the water rushes down with a vengeance. All too often the river overflows and the people in Maniquenique have to save themselves as their valley turns into a lake. After the devastating floods at the turn of the century, the government had to help more than 250,000 people move home to safer ground. But such a solution does not work in the longer term as the waters recede and many people return to their original home areas. UN-HABITAT was asked by the government if it could help find an innovative

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Disaster management in Mozambique

Statistical overview Urbanization • Total population: 21 m • Urban population: 8 m (38%) Annual population growth rates • National: 2% • Urban: 4.1% Source: Author

Population of major cities • Maputo: 1.4 m • Beira 700,000 • Monica 500,000 Slum indicators • Slum to urban population: 79% % population with access to: • Safe water source: 69% • Improved water sanitation: 40% • Sufficient living area: 81% • Durable housing: 56% Source: UN-HABITAT

The elevated school which serves as Maniquenique’s flood refuge Photo © un-habitat

solution, working together with the Architecture Faculty of Eduardo Mondlane University. The agency brought in Eduardo Feuerhake, a Chilean architect and teacher. He and Mr. Spaliviero recommended to the authorities that a new school be built, roughly one metre above ground level using simple but innovative technologies. “After much consultation, it was the people themselves who suggested the school to us,” says Mr. Feuerhake who engaged Fernando Ferreiro, a young architect, to consolidate the plans together with the Architecture Faculty team, and personally helped the community build the new school.

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UN-HABITAT in Mozambique Currently, UN-HABITAT is working to reduce vulnerability to recurrent floods and cyclones in the areas of Inhangoma and Vilanculos through flood and preparedness plans devised in consultation with local communities. These include the design and construction of an elevated building that can serve social facilities (schools or clinics) in normal times and as place of refuge when floods hit. The communities are being shown how to build at least 20 low-cost cyclone resistant homes. This activity is supported by ECHO, Directorate-General of Humanitarian Aid of the European Commission, and co-financed through the Joint Programme for Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Preparedness. Another example is a major Environment Mainstreaming and Adaptation to Climate Change project that involves training programmes for local government officials, demonstration sites for pilot projects and constant revision of disaster preparedness plans. It is scheduled for completion in 2010. This is another Joint Programme, due for completion in 2010, which is being implemented with technical support from six UN agencies within the spirit of ‘Delivering as One’ for which Mozambique is a pilot country. Other projects deal with: municipal capacity building for participatory budgeting and planning (Chibuto, Manica and Nacala cities) financed by Spanish MDG Achievement Fund and the Joint Programme for Support to Decentralization and Integrated Local Development; urban planning and slum upgrading in Nampula city with support of Cities Alliance; a pilot initiative in Maputo city within the context of Cities and Climate Change; empowering urban women entrepreneurs through housing development and land ownership (Manica city); and the second phase of the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme funded by the European Commission which will mainstream the creation of a Mozambican Urban Forum in the near future, as well as continuing to support the formulation of a housing policy in Mozambique.

“The school taught us all and the beneficiaries how to go from paper to reality on the ground.” Today, it has two large classrooms that can accommodate some 400 pupils in two shifts, morning and afternoon, so that as many children as possible can get half a day’s learning in. The school is designed with gutters that channel rain water into a large collection tank to ensure a provision of safe drinking water. Ms. Ruth Saveka, one of their teachers, looks up doubtfully into the sky at the patchy cloud high above: “We never know precisely when it will come down and flood again. But at least everyone in the area knows that they can come to the school for shelter, and clean water.” In the event of floods, the school can provide refuge for approximately 800 people. The UN-HABITAT team showed the community how to make building blocks that do not have to be fired, thus saving trees that would be used for brick kilns. They demon-

strated the building techniques and today the school is open for anyone who wants to see how it’s done. “The idea is that people will try to replicate this idea of an elevated home when they start anew or rebuild their existing home,” says Mr. Feuerhake. A nationwide urban poverty crisis But when disaster strikes, not every community is ready, even though there has been much improvement in Mozambique in the past decade. Naturally people seek refuge in the nearest town. And often they stay. “The rural exodus was exacerbated by the 1977-92 civil war and by the impact of recurring natural disasters,” says a new UN-HABITAT study, the Habitat Country Programme Document 2008-2009 for Mozambique. “Poor living conditions of the new settlers, combined with the lack of or deficient urban planning management capacity at the local level, has


Sustainable development

produced an explosion of informal settlements around the city centres.” More ominously, it adds, that slum dwellers represent more than 80 percent of the Mozambique’s total urban population. “The majority of informal settlements are situated in areas prone to floods and other natural disasters, and lack access to water and sanitation services,” it says. “Poor drainage and poor road network conditions prevent local authorities effectively delivering basic services, and this situation provokes the spread of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and malaria.” Mr. Spaliviero says the UN-HABITAT country programme in Mozambique took into account the United Nations Development Framework and other UN system activities. He says the programme is now devising a strategy to deal with urban poverty and other problems by devising long-term development strategies – all of which are outlined in the Habitat Country Programme Document for Mozambique. Mozambique achieved one of the highest growth rates in the world in 1997-98 and has experienced consistent economic growth since. However, it had one of the lowest Human Development Indexes in the world in 2004 where it ranked near the bottom at 168 out of 177 countries. According to UNICEF figures in 2007, average life expectancy at birth stood at 42 years, while the adult literacy rate was 44 percent. Finding the solutions In the past six years, UN-HABITAT has engaged in considerable theoretical and awareness work. In 2003, this started with a manual and a card game entitled, Learning How to Live with Floods. It introduces children and communities to the concept of: drains, elevated structures, evacuation, and many others. The manual gives ideas on how the community can prepare themselves for floods by building supporting platforms or elevated structures that serve as little islands where people can take immediate refuge and store their valuables. In 2005, The River Game was produced as an integration land use tool to be used in the four riparian countries around Limpopo River, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. Another manual was produced in 2007: How to Build with Winds. It carries recommendations on how to reduce risks and build up resilience to cyclones. As the government saw UN HABITAT’s work in this area, it

UN-HABITAT has helped to provide a new school

asked the agency to collaborate in cyclone risk areas by creating simple to build cyclone-resistant structures. In turn, various provinces are also seeking to replicate projects like the school. Involved now in a drought resistance project, the agency and the INGC are producing a manual on harvesting, managing and re-utilization of rain water in arid and semi-arid zones. In order to apply the brochure’s concepts, a pilot rain water harvesting project will be implemented in Chicualacuala, an arid area close to the Zimbabwean border. UN-HABITAT’S traditional assistance to local governments includes assistance with master and cadastral planning, a system of building codes in disaster zones, as well as support to women’s groups given the country’s poor access to education, health, employment and credit facilities. According to traditional land laws, for example, women risk losing land and property to other members of their extended family in the event of a divorce or the death of their husband. To redress this, the government is adjusting the legal framework to ensure compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. After almost five centuries of Portuguese rule that ended with independence in 1975,

BEST PRACTICES

Photo © Gunnar SalvaSSon

Mozambique is steadily making progress, while UN-HABITAT’s work in the country is also expanding. Members of the agency’s country team are implementing their projects by providing technical, administrative and managerial assistance. At the national level, each project is conducted with the full participation of a Mozambican national with the emphasis on participatory work that involves the beneficiaries themselves. u

UN-HABITAT is helping Mozambique residents deal with floods Photo © moronnoodle

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Bus Rapid Transit

Lagos sets standard for urban transport in Africa The Nigerian capital has launched a new bus system which is carrying three times its forecasted passengers at fares which have been slashed by a third. Jake Blosse explains how Lagos BRT could be a blueprint for other developing cities.

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u r b a n is a huge October 2009success in Lagos, but will other cities adopt the same system? WBus O RRapid L D Transit

Photo Š daimler


Bus Rapid Transit

I

n less than two years, Lagos has demonstrated how a well-planned bus system can transform urban transport. Africa’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) system, which became operational on 17 March 2008, was finished within a record 15-month timeframe at a delivery cost of just USD 1.7 million per kilometre. After 100 days it had already carried 9.7 million people and within its first six months of operation buses had carried a total of 29 million. “Patronage has exceeded expectations,” says Dayo Mobereola, CEO of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority in the Nigerian capital. “Passengers pay 30 percent less in fares, and enjoy a greater degree of fare stability, despite the fact that fuel costs have risen by over 100 percent in the past few years.” Journey times have also been reduced by 40 percent and average weekly passenger numbers far exceed what had been forecasted. Lagos BRT was projected to carry 60,000 people per day but now carries over 200,000 people. “The scheme has attracted increased patronage from sectors that had previously shied away from public transport, namely children, car-owning middle classes, the elderly and disabled,” says Mobereola. An additional benefit is that Lagos’ bus network has created direct employment for more than 1,500 people, mostly graduates, and indirect employment for over 500,000 people. Says Mobereola: “Lagos BRT has demonstrated the ability of local operators to run successful public transport operations which has subsequently generated intense interest from banks, financiers and vehicle suppliers for other BRT networks.” The biggest initial challenge was getting a financial institution to fund the project. Mobereola comments: “At the concept stage it was very difficult to attract banks that would support us.” Eventually, a local bank offered a guarantee but it imposed tough conditions in order to mitigate risk. The agreement gives the bank a lien (a security interest) on revenues collected from bus services with only the balance, after deduction of the financing cost, being passed through to the operator. The bank has also been given the right to act as ticket distributor and security monitor. All participating operators have to accept collective liability for all the agreements they have entered into. Any individual default, whether by embezzlement of revenues or through

BEST PRACTICES

Bus Rapid Transit: the beginning First pioneered in Curitiba, Brazil, bus rapid transit (BRT) was born in the early 1970s, not to tackle traffic congestion, but rather because of the high number of individual bus operators. “Imagine thousands of people driving around and competing for every fare,” says Bill Vincent, director of the Bus Rapid Transit Policy Centre in Washington D.C., which was set up in 2002 to show how enhanced bus services can sustain mobility while helping fight climate change. “In Latin America, before the advent of BRT, any bus could pick up any passenger, anywhere. There were no designated bus stops, so you could just flag a bus down like a taxi.” The reason Curitiba introduced its bus rapid transit system in 1974 was to organize this chaos. By 2002, Curitiba transit services were worked by 1,902 buses, operating 14,000 daily trips totalling 320,000 kilometres and supporting more than 1.9 million passenger trips each day. These results caught the eye of many cities around the world, and BRT started to spread. There is concern that BRT can bring about more traffic congestion, due to segregated roadways taking up the limited land space available. But Curitiba’s traffic speed compares favourably. In 2003, the average speed of Curitiba’s bus services was 22.4 km/h. This compared with Rio de Janiero at 14.3 km/h, São Paulo at 15.4 km/h and Mexico City at 16.9 km/h. Traffic is Curitiba now flows at 40 km/h with a considerable advantage over Rio de Janeiro (30 km/h), São Paulo (24.1 km/h) and Mexico City (22.5 km/h).

vehicle unavailability, for example because of an accident or mechanical failure, will be made good by an additional charge on all the remaining members. “Where the default is fraudulent, the individual operator will lose his deposit or collateral,” says Mobereola. Lagos’ publicity campaign for its new transport system was crucial to its success. The television programmes BRT Half Hour and Lagos on the Move were geared towards educating and informing the population about the bus rapid transit system. “It was difficult at first getting people to understand what the new bus system was all about because of low confidence and lack of trust in the government,” comments Mobereola. “Lagos’ previous governments had put a lot of measures in place to address the transportation problems but none proved sustainable.” After becoming operational in 2008 with 100 high-capacity buses, 120 more buses were added when it became apparent that 100 simply would not be enough. After one year of operation, the system has carried a total of 56.2 million passengers. Of the world’s most populated cities, 15 of the top 20 are from emerging economies. It is here where bus rapid transit systems can shine. Lagos, with a projected population

What is BRT? Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a cheap, cost-effective public transportation strategy that can help tackle urban transport issues such as poor air quality and congestion, and assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a fraction of the cost of light rail. It is a high-quality intelligent transport system telling passengers when buses will arrive, informing drivers to slow down or speed up, giving prioritization at traffic lights and offering off-bus ticket purchase, all aimed at making buses faster, travel times shorter and congestion lower. However, globally, BRT is implemented in a number of ways, from expensive computer-controlled networks, to simpler bus systems similar to the one in Lagos.

increase of over 10 million people by 2020, is a good example of a city where BRT offers a cheap, flexible and effective transport solution for the future. u

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Innovation and news from Europe

Energy Thousands take emission cut vows at launch of 10:10 campaign A new campaign to cut personal emissions by 10 percent before 2010 was launched recently in London with 5,000 signatures pledged on the first day. The grassroots campaign aims to put the climate change initiative into people’s hands and through its website provides tips and advice on how individuals can reduce their emissions. “We’ll be offering lots of advice on how to do it and 10:10 has teamed up with the major energy companies who’ll help by showing customers how they are doing on their bills,” said a 10:10 spokesperson at the launch. “10:10 is about aiming high and finding out what’s possible – and becoming part of a business community that is doing the same. There are also specially designed targets for schools and other organizations,” he added. The launch at Britain’s Tate Modern Art Gallery, a former power station and polluter, attracted thousands of people who each brought along their own ingenious ideas. Some included using the car less and walking more, to promises of wearing more clothes in winter and not using the heater. The 10:10 campaign was an initial idea by film-maker Franny Armstrong and is being supported by The Guardian newspaper.

Infrastructure Child-friendly cities win awards Four European cities were awarded for their innovative and child-friendly projects in Stuttgart at the third annual conference Cities for Children. Malmö and Darmstadt were recognized for outstanding projects in the category Design of Open Spaces and Play Areas with Liverpool and Munich convincing the jury in the Mobility and Traffic Safety category. This was the first time the award had been presented, and the aim is to honour European cities each year for the successful implementation of outstanding projects aimed at chil-

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The Tate Modern Art Gallery was the chosen venue for the 10:10 campaign launch

Photo © anika muzar

UK Energy Secretary Ed Miliband has welcomed the plan and is encouraging staff at the Department of Energy and Climate Change to join in, while the department itself is on course to cut emissions at its London HQ by 10 percent by April next year. Basic ways of reducing personal emissions include: replacing old light bulbs with energy saving ones; cutting back on journeys that aren’t necessary; use a delivery service instead

of driving to the supermarket for the weekly shop; insulating houses, which can reduce the yearly household fuel bill by GBP 300, and fitting solar tiles to a south-facing roof that can generate free hot water, or extra power that can be sold back to the energy supplier. Other large companies and organizations who have signed up so far include, British Gas, Waitrose, EDF, NHS Hospitals, churches and schools. u

dren and young people in different policy areas. These range from education to health and safety issues, the design of outdoor play areas, the integration of young and old and to achieving a balance between work and family life. The cities of Odense, Karlsruhe, Satu Mare, Elblag, Salzgitter and Peristeri received Certificates of Special Recognition for their award applications. “The continued flourishing of the network and the overwhelming response to the first European Award of Excellence – City for Children – demonstrate the centrality of the issue of child-, youth- and family-friendliness throughout Europe. Our aim is to make childfriendliness a priority in municipal policymaking,” says Dr. Wolfgang Schuster, Mayor of Stuttgart, who oversaw the presentations.

Any European cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants are invited to apply, also in cooperation with organizations, associations, institutions, companies, churches and other partners who are involved in running or organizing the projects on the ground. u

Munich has won an award for mobility Photo © wim van ekeren


Innovation and news from north America

BEST PRACTICES

Housing UN-HABITAT investigates forced evictions in New Orleans The UN-HABITAT’s Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE) undertook a fact-finding mission to New Orleans, USA, to report on forced evictions in the context of post-disaster reconstruction. The group documented ongoing events and assessed the efforts to resettle the evictees, and possible solutions to improve their housing conditions. The AGFE mission carried out visits to the sites of public housing earmarked for demolition, to Mid City, to the Lower Ninth Ward, and to homeless shelters. Based on its neutrality, the AGFE mission is meeting with all key stakeholders, including government and civil society representatives. The experts are trying to find out the needs and challenges of the residents in rebuilding their homes or in securing alternative affordable housing. After New Orleans, the mission met with Federal officials in Washington D.C. who work on post disaster recovery. The AGFE mission was requested by the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), a non-governmental organization that has been working with

Energy Holiday Inn unveils plan to cut energy usage by half The Holiday Inn brand is currently undergoing a USD 1 billion global relaunch, the largest in the hospitality industry, with more than 3,200 hotels being updated with LED lighting. A redesign of the iconic brand logo requires new exterior signage for over 3,200 locations. The signage incorporates energy-efficient, long-life General Electric Tetra LED lighting systems and will save Holiday Inn an estimated USD 4.4 million annually over previous neon and fluorescent lighting (USD 3 million annual maintenance savings and USD 1.4 million in energy savings). Holiday Inn expects to cut energy usage by more than half and achieve an estimated 52 percent reduction in kilowatt hours with signs

AGFE are seeking solutions for those whose homes have been destroyed by disasters

Photo © craiG toocheck

resident organizations in New Orleans with the aim of ensuring equitable rebuilding for the city. UN-HABITAT established AGFE in 2004 in response to a resolution by its

Governing Council. The Group comprises individuals from academic, governmental, nongovernmental and community-based organizations from around the world. u

lit an average of 12 hours per day, 365 days per year. That represents an estimated reduction of 8,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually or the equivalent of planting more than 2,300 acres of trees per year. “We are increasing quality and driving consistency across all Holiday Inn properties, and being more contemporary with this major rebranding and it only makes sense to use the greenest signage solution possible,” says Angela Brav, chief operating officer, north America, InterContinental Hotels Group which owns the Holiday Inn chain. “We are replacing more than 9,300 signs across several countries, so the energy savings General Electric’s LED systems are providing is significant. Plus, they offer proven reliability for even greater savings from a maintenance standpoint and improved brand consistency across all properties.” This project involves more than 20 sign manufacturers creating 9,300 channel letter

and box signs with high-performance LED lighting inside. There are more than 270 dif different lighting configurations across five Holiday Inn brands, where the signs range from 28 centimetres to 2.4 metres. Changes include new outdoor lighting, building exterior updates and new landscaping with relaunch of the planned for the end of 2010. u

Using LED lighting brings huge savings in maintenance costs and energy-usage Photo © holiday inn

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IN-FOCUS

Latin America and the Caribbean

River clean-up offers fresh start in Brazil The impetus and resolve of local people in Belem, northern Brazil, has given the city’s urban planning and housing systems a big boost. Here Manuel Manrique, UN-HABITAT’s Rio de Janeiro-based Information Officer for Latin America, explains how the clean-up of the region’s Tucunduba River is having a positive effect on surrounding neighbourhoods.

It’s clear why authorities in Brazil are keen to give Belem residents a new start and a clean waterway

Photo © un-habitat / m. manrique


Latin America and the Caribbean

IN-FOCUS

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anitation works, water supply, new housing, streetlights and the upgrading of roads are mobilizing four poor neighbourhoods in Belem, the capital of Pará, in the northern region of Brazil. In recent times, the districts of Canudos, Guamá, Terra Firme and Marco have become violent with drug trafficking and assaults commonplace. The streets are mean and of often with poor lighting or none at all. They are also narrow, making it difficult for ambulances and the police to get around. The homes are ramshackle contraptions of cement, wood or leftovers from building sites, and are precariously overcrowded. Coupled with insecurity and crime, the poverty and overcrowding has had a grim impact on the environment, especially the Tucunduba River, a canal that meanders into Guajará Bay. It became a place where everyone dumped their trash, contaminating the water, reducing its volume, and sending waves of plastic bottles and detritus piling up along the river banks. So serious were these eyesores that they soured relations between ferry operators and communities living further downstream. “I was born and bred in Canudos, not so close to the river, but I saw how things got worse: violence, lack of housing and contamination. Six years ago we took over the leather factory, Santo Antonio, because we didn’t have homes and the factory was abandoned. There were more than 200 homeless families. The conditions weren’t the best, but it sorted out part of the problem,” says Paulo de Tarso, 40. He gave up his job as a salesman to become a community leader. Paulo’s journey started when the thencouncillor of Belem, Suely de Oliveira, visited the occupied factory, and saw the conditions in which 216 families were living. She also watched Paulo in action, learning from the way he directed neighbours to separate metal for sale, or how well he got on with people and sifting out the rubbish, among other things. That was six years ago. Ms. De Oliveira encouraged Paulo in his community leadership. In her new role one of her first measures was to begin a clean-up along the Tucunduba River region. The idea was to drain the worst stretch of more than two kilometres of the canal, plant fresh vegetation, establish proper river bank paths and widen it for boat traffic. “The work in the river impacts on the neighbourhood because they are going to

Years of work are needed to improve living conditions in Belem

pull down houses to build new housing. The people living along the river will be offered rent-assistance or immediate financial compensation,” says Lucivaldo da Silva Ribeiro, coordinator of the Tucunduba Project. At each step of the way, Ms. De Oliveira and Mr. Silva Ribeiro consulted the local communities through the good offices of Paulo Tarso. Everywhere he accompanied the government’s social advisor to consult and help explain the renovations to his people. This led to the construction of the Cortume and Liberdade apartment blocks at the site of former factory and nearby to provide healthier new accommodation for some 2,600 families. For the first time, they will enjoy piped drinking water, a proper sanitation and sewage network, new parks, better street lighting and other amenities previously undreamed of. On arrival in their new homes, the head of each family – 80 percent of them women – will, according to the government’s social security team, will receive full insurance for their apartments. The construction of the housing is accompanied by general improvements of the urban space. It includes widening of streets and avenues, more public lighting, especially in areas considered dangerous; also the construction of bridges for pedestrians and vehicles, police stations, green squares, and new waterfront facilities for boats. “This work will benefit over 4,500 families, not only those that will be living in the new housing, but also those that live nearby the renovations. It will improve quality of life. It is without doubt a big task, untold, that cov-

Photo © un-habitat habitat / m. manrique

ers various areas of human development. It goes at least halfway towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” says the Deputy Secretary of Urban and Regional Development in Pará, José Raiol. Mr. Raiol, says that the hardest part of the work is the beginning: “Explaining to people that their house will be demolished to improve the area where they live is not easy. There is a lot of mistrust, but our social services team deserves credit.” Nazilda Pacheco, the social coordinator in charge of 60 projects agrees that the early phase is always the most difficult, when it comes to convincing people that their lives will change for the better. So how do they do it? By visiting each household, explaining the new development plan, asking for views of the community in questionnaires, and once certain people see the benefits and understand, they are then asked whether they want financial compensation or the rent-assistance. Most families opt for the rent-assistance because they don’t want to move away from their place of work. The men are carpenters, artisans or peddlers. The women work as domestic workers or cooks. “But they also have the opportunity to work on one of the projects. Our concern with the population is consistent and that’s how, little by little, we win them over,” says Ms. Pacheco, who stresses that all the renovation projects “start social and end social”. Work on the four neighbourhoods is due for completion in March 2010 when the fifth session of the World Urban Forum is scheduled in Rio de Janeiro. u

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Latin America and the Caribbean: News

TRANSPORT Brazil Launches first hydrogen-powered bus São Paulo in Brazil has launched the first hydrogen-powered bus in Latin America. Developed by the Empresa Metropolitana de Transportes Urbanos, a company controlled by the state government, the hydrogen bus will shortly be transporting passengers in São Paulo, a city of 20 million people. The bus will run on the metropolitan corridor, a dedicated bus way linking São Paulo suburbs, between the districts of São Mateus and Jabaquara, a 33-kilometre journey one way, and will cover an estimated distance of 278 kilometres a day. Public, private and international sponsors such as the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) support the project.

Rural development Jamaica receives agriculture loan boost

ENVIRONMENT Latin America pulling its weight Mexico and Argentina are leading a shift to make the global economy more climatefriendly, according to an index of ‘carbon competitiveness’. The index measured national wealth per unit of carbon emissions to find out which countries would be most competitive under carbon limits. France, Japan and Britain ranked top among the G20 nations, reflecting France’s dependence on low-carbon nuclear power, Britain’s on low-carbon gas, and Japan’s energy efficiency and nuclear power. But only Mexico and Argentina are improving their output per unit of carbon in line with national emissions trajectories, which would avoid dangerous climate change. TRANSPORT Mexico City to spend USD 7.5 million to promote bikes in 2009 In an effort to get people to use their bikes instead of their cars, the government of Mexico City is building bike parking as part of its Cambiate de Carril, or Change Your Lane, project. The Institute for Transport and Development Policy in Mexico provided advice to the city government for the design and location of bicycle parking facilities along streets and at mass transit stations. Mexico City is constructing cycling infrastructure in order to increase daily drips by bike from 1 percent to 5 percent by 2012. Currently, around 120,000 bicycle trips are made every day. This year, the budget to achieve this goal has risen to MXN 100 million (USD 7.5 million). HOUSING El Salvador’s poor receive housing credit The Inter-American Development Bank has approved a USD 7 million loan aimed at helping low-income citizens of El Salvador gain access to credit for housing. The loan was approved through the bank’s Opportunities for the Majority facility and is estimated to help 2,300 families. The Salvadorian housing fund FONAVIPO ((Fondo Nacional de Vivienda Popular) will use the loan to expand its credit lines to microfinance institutions that, in turn, will provide loans to low-income households for the purchase of a home or a lot, make improvements to a dwelling they already own, or progressively build their own home.

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The World Bank loan will open up new markets for the agriculture sector Photo © Stefan GlaSe

The World Bank Board of Directors has approved a USD 15 million loan for Jamaica. The loan is to increase income among the rural population by improving market access for small-scale agricultural producers and tourism service providers. “This loan supports Jamaica’s efforts to reduce poverty in rural areas,” says Audley Shaw, Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and Public Services. “Despite a tight fiscal situation, rural economic development is a top priority for the government and we are glad to partner with the World Bank to better serve the needs of all Jamaicans.” The agricultural sector represents an important source of income for the rural population and accounts for 18.4 percent of total employment in Jamaica. The Rural Economic

Development Initiative will finance approximately 110 rural sub-projects that support revenue generating activities in agriculture and tourism, as well as the provision of critical infrastructure, marketing and management subprojects in these sectors. These demanddriven and competitively selected subprojects will be implemented by rural agricultural and tourism enterprises such as cooperatives and legally registered community organizations and will be prioritized and evaluated on criteria such as preference for lower income groups and clear local impact, among others. Grants are not expected to exceed USD 50,000 each for revenue generating activity and USD 200,000 each for other types of subprojects. The loan is expected to directly and indirectly benefit an estimated 22,000 rural residents. The initiative will also ensure the sustainability of rural enterprises by improving the provision of support services in agriculture and rural tourism at the local level. This will be achieved by providing technical assistance and capacity building to the agencies providing such services. Yurie Tanimichi Hoberg, World Bank co-task manager for the project says: “This initiative will promote the participation of civil society organizations in local government, and improve the quality of their work through technical assistance, including financial management and proposal development.” u

Waste management Mexico City announces ban on plastic bags Mexico City has passed a new law making it illegal for shops and businesses to hand out nonbiodegradable plastic bags to customers. All stores, production facilities and service providers within Mexico City will be affected – making the Mexican capital the second major city in the western hemisphere to enact such a ban along with San Francisco. Supermarket chains Soriana and Comercial Mexicana have already switched to oxo-biodegradable plastic bags, which they say take less than two years to break down. Most of the plastic bags now blamed for filling dumps, clogging

waterways and killing marine life take close to a century to break down, sponsors of the ban say. The move by the Mexico City government follows a number of other recent environmentally friendly initiatives, including the introduction of new buses that emit less pollution, and a planned bike-lending scheme expected to launch in December. Officials hope to increase bicycle use, which is currently limited due to a lack of cycle lanes and heavy traffic. The new law also complements the city’s ef efforts to turn one of the planet’s biggest wastemanagement systems into the greenest in Latin


Latin America and the Caribbean: News

Water New agreements address water safety in Latin America and Caribbean

Cooperation between Peru, USA and the International Water Association will see improved water quality in Latin S America Photo © Phillie caSablanca

Improving drinking water safety in the Latin American and Caribbean region is the focus of two new bi-lateral agreements between The International Water Association (IWA) and the Peruvian Ministry of Health and the United States Department of State. Both agreements will support the development of a Water Safety Plan Network in the region. These plans provide the most effective means of consistently ensuring the safety of a drinking-water supply through the use of a comprehensive risk assessment approach that encompasses all steps in water supply from catchment to consumer. Under the agreement a regional IWA office will be set up in Lima, Peru to bring together

America, if not the developing world. Mexico City only recycles about 6 percent of the 12,500 tons of rubbish its 20 million residents generate daily but aims to compost or use 85 percent of it for energy by 2013. The results of such bans have been mixed. Two years on from a ban affecting large supermarket chains and pharmacies in San Francisco, the Californian city has cut plastic bag distribution by more than 50 percent, according to the city’s environment department. But a ban in Seattle was challenged by the plastics industry in court and overturned last month in an industry-financed referendum. Supporters in Mexico City hope that the ban will spark a comeback of the old-fashioned, brightly coloured mesh tote bags, which are now being sold as chic boutique items. Following

professionals in the public and private sectors, who are concerned about drinking water quality and related sanitary issues. The United States Government is providing seed funding to provide a local coordinator and to offer technical assistance for the network. “Developing new partnerships that leverage the talent, resources, and expertise of the private sector and civil society is at the heart of the U.S. strategy to achieve global water security,” says Aaron Salzberg, U.S. Special Coordinator on Water at the Department of State. “The Water Safety Plan Network will help spread the knowledge needed to ensure sustainable access to safe drinking water throughout the region.” u

Mexico is aiming to become Latin America’s greenest city Photo © fernando diaz

signature of the law in August, businesses in Mexico City have a year to comply. u

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INFRASTRUCTURE Faster highway for the Dominican Republic The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will provide USD 44.8 million for a toll highway project that will reduce the travel time between Santo Domingo and the Samaná peninsula, an area with great tourist potential, located in the north-eastern part of the Dominican Republic. Overseeing this initiative, whose total estimated cost is USD 178 million, will be a consortium comprising Colombian construction firms Odinsa and Grodco, and highway concession holders Consorcio Remix of the Dominican Republic. ENERGY Brazil to fund Guyana hydro power station The Brazilian government has announced its support for a new 800MW hydropower project in Georgetown, Guyana. Brazil’s President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva disclosed that a team of technical officials will be travelling to Georgetown in October. He also revealed that already there are Brazilian companies to finance hydropower projects in Guyana, which would also benefit the Brazilian state of Roraima, to provide a reliable source of electricity for all communities. INFRASTRUCTURE Loan to boost living conditions in Rio de Janeiro The World Bank has approved a USD 39.5 million loan for the Rio de Janeiro Sustainable Rural Development Project in southeastern Brazil. The project seeks to improve income and living conditions for an estimated 150,000 people (37,000 families or 30 percent of Rio de Janeiro’s rural population), improving access to basic socioeconomic infrastructure, increasing productivity and linking farmers to consumer markets. The project looks to improve small farmer productivity through technical assistance, enhance market linkages through investment in infrastructure, strengthen long-term impacts on larger scale sustained productivity through planning and training, and improve support for the rural sector by pushing for institutional reform. ENERGY Venzuela looks to go nuclear Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is aiming to tap into nuclear energy and is looking to Russia for help in getting started. Chavez is already dismissing critics’ concerns over his nuclear ambitions, offering assurances his aims are peaceful and that Venezuela will simply be following in the footsteps of other South American nations using atomic energy. Yet his project remains in its planning stages and still faces a host of practical hurdles, likely requiring billions of dollars, as well as technology and expertise that Venezuela lacks. Russia has, however, offered to help bridge that gap, and Chavez has announced that the two countries have created an atomic energy commission.

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Women’s Bank funds new housing in Sri Lanka A UN-HABITAT project in conjunction with the Women’s Bank and the government of Sri Lanka has given Sri-Lankan women access to housing finance. Now they are benefiting from floodresistant homes and continuous clean water for the first time. Emily Wong of UN-HABITAT’s Gender Unit speaks to the women whose lives have been transformed.

Housing upgrades mean that residents can live in cleaner and safer conditions

Photo © revati uPadhya


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very October, the Women’s Bank, a women-led cooperative savings and credit programme for low-income communities, commemorates World Habitat Day and their achievements towards improving the lives of the poor, especially in informal settlements. This year, the song, dance and colourful festivities were even more special for several hundred residents benefiting from collaborative projects of Women’s Bank and UN-HABITAT in 2009. In the district of Kuruniyawatta, Kolonnawa, Women’s Bank and UN-HABITAT recently launched a project to improve housing, security of tenure and infrastructure to benefit over 200 people. The settlers had struggled to get safe water and power services because they had always occupied the public land as squatters. However, the government of Sri Lanka is contributing to the project by transferring ownership of the land to Women’s Bank, which will then transfer it back to the community after they have finished repaying loans for housing upgrades. Staying put The land lies in the low flood plain of the Kelani River, yet many residents do not want to move. Financing for the housing upgrades will ensure that the residents have more flood-resistant shelter, for example with more durable houses elevated from the ground. “We have lived here for the major part of our lives. We have made a home and our children go to school here. Our livelihood is here. Despite the threat of floods, we do not want to relocate,” says S.N.K. Priyanka, a 40-year resident of Kuruniyawatta. A mother of three and a member of a local women’s savings group working with Women’s Bank, she says the project has given the community hope and confidence that flood-related risks, such as the spread of disease from overflowing sewerage, can now be better managed with the housing and infrastructure upgrades. Hatton National Bank is providing a loan of approximately USD 96,000 for the project. UN-HABITAT has been involved by helping to set up a local finance facility, Lanka Financial Services for Underserved

Photo © un-habitat

Kuruniyawatta women

Settlements, which is guaranteeing a portion of the loan from the commercial bank. Besides making the loan available, this leads to lower interest rates, which helps reduce the cost of finance and therefore payment of the community. Finance for women The Kuruniywatta project is one of 10 projects in Sri Lanka where UN-HABITAT

is working to improve women’s access to housing finance. Women’s Bank has been a leading partner. The organization started in 1989 with savings groups run by women from slums of the capital, Colombo, and now has developed into a leading community banking system for poor women in Sri Lanka, with over 70,000 members and collective savings worth USD 12 million. u

The Women’s Bank • The Women’s Bank emerged out of a pilot project of women’s mutual help groups initiated by the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) of Sri Lanka in 1989. • The project was based on the traditional system of savings and credit, known in Sri Lanka as seettu. The participants in such a group contribute an agreed sum of money to a pool on a daily, weekly, two-weekly or monthly basis. The pooled amount is awarded to one member of the group at a time, either in an agreed order or by drawing lots. • To be eligible for membership of a group, a woman must have a low income, she must reside in a low-income settlement and she must be willing to participate in group activities according to a set of rules and regulations. • Saving is the first activity a group undertakes once it has been formed. As the group increases its savings, the maximum loan amount which the women can borrow from the bank also increases.

Source: http://www.gdrc.org/icm/inspire/womenbank.html

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Asia and Pacific: News

HEALTH World Health Organization promotes healthy cities The World Health Organization based in Japan is making healthy cities the focus of World health day 2010. With the campaign “1000 cities - 1000 lives”, events will be organized worldwide calling on cities to open up streets for health activities and close areas of the city to traffic. One thousand stories of urban health champions will be gathered to illustrate what people are doing to improve health in their cities. The theme was chosen in recognition of the effect urbanization has on the health of communities and individuals, and the event – held next April – aims to encourage healthier outdoor living within cities. WATER Success at Singapore Water Week SGD 2.2 billion worth of deals were signed at Singapore’s second Water Week this summer – six times the amount of business achieved last year. More than 10,000 people from 85 countries/regions participated in the event and approximately 300 attendees were high level delegates from 49 countries, such as: the Crown Prince of Orange, President of Asian Development Bank, Vice President of World Bank, the Water and Environment Ministers of Qatar, Malaysia, Brunei, Sri Lanka and Laos as well as CEOs of international global water companies and water organizations.

Energy India to build world’s biggest solar energy plan India has announced plans to build the world’s biggest solar energy plant in the western desert of Rann of Kutch, which could potentially supply all of country’s energy needs. The plan, recently approved by the Indian government, outlines a national target of 20 gigawatts of solar generation capacity by 2020, creating 100,000 jobs and reducing around 42 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. It will be developed in three phases: 20 gigawatts by 2020, 100 gigawatts by 2030 and 200 gigawatts by 2050. Currently only around 8 percent of India’s total power mix is from renewable energy sources and coal remains the backbone of its power sector, accounting for about 60 percent of power generation. The solar plant will allow India to reduce its current output of greenhouse gases, which account for 4 percent of global emissions and to supply the 400 million people in India who still do not have access to electricity.

Dr Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, says: “Our vision is to make India’s economic development energy sufficient. We will pool our scientific, technical and managerial talents with sufficient resources to develop solar as a source of abundant electricity to power our economy and to transform the lives of our people.” India’s position has always been that it needs to use more energy to lift its population out of poverty, and to solve the power deficit that has stifled its growth. Greenpeace has called upon industrialized countries to help India with technology and financing with the plant projected to cost USD 19 billion. “To fulfill its solar mission, India needs international technological support and industrialized countries need to come up with concrete proposals on technology and finance,” says Siddharth Pathak, Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace, from the UN Climate negotiations at Bonn, Germany. u

India’s solution to the energy crisis could be the sun

Photo © Joe zlomek

DISASTER MANAGEMENT Thousands displaced in Philippines typhoon Typhoon Marakot hit the Philippines’ main island, Luzon in August and displaced thousands of people. At the time the typhoon hit, disaster officials were still attempting to help more than 375,000 people affected by flooding in the southern island of Mindanao. The Philippines, located along the typhoon belt in the Pacific, is hit by an average 20 typhoons every year, which claim the most lives of all natural disasters, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) estimates that the typhoon has caused more than USD 1 million worth of damage. HOUSING Mayor of Shanghai demands more lowcost housing Shanghai’s Mayor Han Zheng has announced plans to combat inflationary house prices by providing more land for low-cost housing and accelerating the construction of affordable homes in the second half of 2009. Mayor Han said excessive inflation had driven up prices and the government needed to take control of the property market. According to government data released in June 2009, there had been a 6 percent increase in housing prices and this despite an escalation in urban unemployment and a slowdown in the growth of salaries. House prices in Shanghai are predicted to rise by 20 percent by the end of 2010.

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Energy Bangladesh civil servants ordered to dress down Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has told government workers to wear informal dress in a bid to cut air-conditioning use in government buildings. The country’s official dress code has been rewritten, after Sheikh Hasina ordered government employees to do more to ease the country’s energy shortage. Untucked, loose-fitting shirts will replace suits and ties during the hot period. The scheme even applies to government ministers and, if successful, it will be implemented more widely across the private sector. Communications Minister, Syed Abul Hossain, says: “The prime minister pointed out that air conditioning is a luxury and if we wear lighter clothing we will not need to use air conditioning so much.” When air conditioning is necessary, officials and ministers have been told not to set it below 24 degrees Celsius. Bangladesh’s 144 million people have long suffered severe power cuts due to demands imposed by its economy, which has been growing at around 6 percent annually over the past five years. Electricity shortfalls are especially acute in

If Bangladesh’s AC scheme succeeds, it may be rolled out across the private sector Photo © chriS hriSta richert

the hot summer months from March to November, when air conditioning is most used. These power cuts have seriously hindered Bangladesh’s economic development and in August, Hasina’s government unveiled a USD 6 billion power plant building programme in an attempt to end Bangladesh’s chronic energy shortage. Private companies will operate the power plants. The shortage of electricity has also prompted the government to introduce daylight saving, and in June the clocks were moved forward by one hour in another attempt to cut energy consumption. u

Transport World’s fastest train system to be built in China The Chinese government is set to spend USD 50 billion, more than double what it spent in 2008, on a nationwide high-speed passenger rail network which once completed will be the largest, fastest and most technologically sophisticated system in the world. Construction on the project started in 2005 and by the time it has been completed in 2020 almost 16,000 miles of new track will have been laid at a cost of USD 300 billion. The plan has also brought about mass employment, with 110,000 new jobs being created just on the Beijing-Shanghai route. At least five routes are to accommodate trains travelling at speeds of 350 km/h. So far, China has built 185 kilometres of track capable of handling 350 km/h trains, including the link between Beijing and Tianjin, which opened last August ahead of the Olympic Games. Shanghai Maglev Train (magnetic levitation) holds the record of the fastest train in China, which has a top operation speed of 431km/h and

China predicts that more people will take the train as traffic gets worse Photo © athewma

top testing speed of 501km/h. However, due to the short distance (only 30-kilometre Maglev tracks), the average operational speed for the Maglev train is 245.5km/h. In 2008, passengers in China made 1.4 billion rail journeys, in a nation whose major cities are already choked with traffic, Chinese rail officials expect that figure to double over the next decade. u

URBAN WATCH

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Sri Lanka benefits from USD 75 million World Bank credit The World Bank has approved a USD 75 million credit to Sri Lanka which will support the second phase of a community driven development programme that has helped nearly one million Sri Lankans. The Second Community Development and Livelihood Improvement Project, known also as Gemi Diriya or “the strength of the villages”, is active in more than 1,000 villages, helping communities identify, fund and implement their own development needs. About 870,000 people in the most remote and poorest villages have benefited from provision of drinking water, access roads and bridges, information technology centres, access to credit and income generation. To date, the programme has financed 2,140 community infrastructure subprojects, generated 18,500 jobs, and provided livelihood activities to 140,000 households. ENERGY Reliable power for poor Mongolian communities The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Government of Japan are funding a USD 2.6 million pilot project in Mongolia to deliver lowcost, reliable electricity to poor, remote communities. Until now rural communities have relied on diesel-generated power, which is expensive and only available four to five hours a day. The project will build transmission and distribution lines in nine selected bag centres, using the single-wire earth return system which is widely used in developed countries to provide cheap electricity to sparsely populated communities. WATER Incheon Declaration: Protect Urban Water Incheon Metropolitan City has successfully held The World City Water Forum 2009. Mr. Ahn Sang-soo, Mayor of Incheon, declared that an ethic of stewardship and resolve was required to restore urban streams and aquatic eco-systems. Mayors, political leaders, specialists, CEOs and futurists from around the world attended the forum, spending three days discussing global water issues under the theme of Innovation and Harmony – Water and City. The forum ended with the mayor reading the Incheon Water Declaration, which insists that cities must protect urban water. The Incheon Water Declaration, drafted by ICLEI, was designed to adopt the UN Millennium Development Goals and Istanbul Water Consensus. ENERGY Biofuel crucial to China’s energy goals Clean Chinese biomass energy should be able to provide more than 30 percent of rural energy demand in China by 2020. The rural agricultural sector will provide ethanol and biodiesel from high-yield energy crops and support the national strategic goal of producing alternative fuel products to substitute 10 million tons of fossil fuel products by 2020. The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Engineering and Environmental and Energy Development Consulting Ltd have released the report National Action Plan for Rural Biomass Renewable Energy Development in China, which provides detailed measures to enable China to achieve its biomass development target in the medium and long term.

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Entrepreneurship serves young people in slums There are always business opportunities somewhere, even in slums. They serve hope of a better future. In this article Melanda Schmid of the Environmental Youth Alliance of Canada, explains how UN-HABITAT’s Urban Entrepreneurship Programme is helping young people learn the essential skills that make a huge difference to their lives in some of the worst slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

Local entrepreneurs cut bones to make jewellery in Kibera, Nairobi

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Photo Š tim brauhn


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rban poverty problems such as insecurity, a lack of shelter, poor sanitation, water scarcity, and few if any job opportunities, overwhelmingly cloud the prospects of young people who today constitute the majority of urban populations in developing countries. Interventions in slums are more likely to have a lasting impact and create self-sustaining solutions if they address livelihoods and economic security, as well as the other problems highlighted above. So what can be the answer? Entrepreneurship is one way. Although not a one-size-fitsall employment solution, it does touch on one significant piece of the economic puzzle. In many developed economies, the small business sector is amongst the largest contributors to Gross Domestic Product, and building capacity in the small-scale activities already taking place in impoverished areas is one way to assist in the gradual transformation of informal business activities into formal ones, which can ultimately impact economic growth and serve to reduce poverty. “We started with the premise that youth groups with some history of running small businesses could be supported in the expansion of those businesses if they could improve their basic business skills and practices, and get better access to finance and markets,” says Karun Koernig, Senior Manager at Environmental Youth Alliance. But finding an effective way to transfer complex business concepts to marginalized youth is not straightforward. This is because formal theory-based learning does not effectively transfer business skills, which are best learned on the job. Building strengths To meet this challenge, the Urban Entrepreneurship Programme used a business simulation process, developed for the African context. It involves a series of increasingly complex modules that include problem-solving and interactive game-based learning. The learning sessions, delivered at intervals over six months, allowed the groups to experience realistic situations and learn from their successes and failures in the safety of the simulated environment. Bringing the learning process right to the location of the groups’ businesses – most classes were held in the slums – and grounding it in real life

experience, the programme allowed learners to gradually apply key lessons about profit, margins, supply and demand and marketing to their day-to-day business practices. In conjunction with this training, the Environmental Youth Alliance worked with each group to identify their highest potential businesses, and offered support tailored to the group’s needs. This ranged from financial planning and access to financing, marketing and sales support, to coaching on strategic product enhancement. It also included assistance to community-wide networks around mutually beneficial business ventures. Getting the financing and the confidence “We had saved some money and we wanted to buy a bus, but we didn’t know how to move forward,” says Isaac Nderitu, Chairman of the Kinari Small-Scale Self Help group. This 31-member collective, who came to Nairobi some years ago after being displaced from their agricultural roots through political violence, operate stands at a busy roadside produce market, and also manage a sanitation block. After saving for years, the group had a nest egg but no confidence in how to proceed, and no trustworthy mentors to ask for advice. The element of the programme that helped them was financial planning support. “I was initially sceptical, but as we did the cash flow forecasts it became clear there was real profit potential,” says Mr. Koernig, who worked with the group to create their loan proposal for a bus business. Armed with solid plans and profit projections, the Kinari Small Scale Self Help Group secured an EUR 11,000 commercial loan for a 29-seater bus, and earned accolades from the media and the government. The group members still run their market stalls, but now also manage their bus, which runs the busy route right in front of their market each day and employs four staff. The group plans to one day purchase land and start their own farm, with the bus-business profits. What made the bus project easy to finance was that it was a loan for a hard asset, which acts as its own collateral. The programme applied this same logic to financing the expansion of another youth group, one with potential to grow their small business in the garment and textile industry.

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“Some youth groups don’t have enough savings to purchase large equipment, and are not confident about their ability to repay,” says Patrick Ominde, Junior Coordinator of the Urban Entrepreneurship Programme. Another team, the Mathare No. 10 Youth Group, some trained in textile printing, was running a small manual screen-printing business making t-shirts and artwork. This group was set up with a low interest, longer-term rent-to-own agreement for the special printing needed. The youth group now manages the machine, and ownership will be transferred to them formally upon successful completion of all payments. Paired with intensive marketing and sales support, the printing machine has made it possible for group members to secure large-scale printing contracts for shirts and other commercial or logo-printed merchandise. Their customers now include some of the city’s biggest names. Bridging the divide - connecting with outside markets Securing market access for these youth groups has been a key element of the programme. “Many of the youth groups in slums don’t have standard business processes such as invoices or receipts, and lack knowledge of proper business etiquette. These youth wrongly assume formal sector business will think they are inferior and not take them seriously, when in reality they can deliver competitive products and services if they improve their soft skills,” says Arnold Muema, a local sales and marketing consultant. With a bit of initial help in interfacing with a range of formal sector businesses, there are good indications that these groups can sustain and expand their client base. In the same way as he helped the printing project, Mr. Muema worked with the Be Smart Fashion Design Association youth group, who are trained tailors but struggle to maintain year-round business levels. As with many youth groups running small businesses, one of the greatest barriers is the scope of their current market. With Be Smart, Mr. Muema linked the group to major coastal resort hotels in need of staff uniforms, and encouraged them to push themselves beyond traditional designs into this new, potentially lucrative market. The group has filled their first order and is looking forward to more in future.

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Supporting youth-led development - Canada and Norway In 2008, UN-HABITAT signed a partnership with the Canadian NGO, the Environmental Youth Alliance. The programme aims to find replicable solutions to the problem of massive youth poverty in urban slums, through collaborative, youth-led development activities. It has focused on improving the small businesses of 16 youth groups, representing over 300 young people. After a baseline study of the groups’ activities, which included waste management, water and sanitation, as well as an array of small slumbased informal sector businesses, the Environmental Youth Alliance delivered tailored interventions aimed at maximizing business growth, improving profits – and livelihoods. Norway, a strong advocate for the empowerment of women and young people has since 2006 supported UN-HABITAT’s youth programme. It backed the establishment of OneStop Youth centres and in 2008, the Opportunities Fund for Youth-Led Development, a unique mechanism within the UN system, to support urban youth-led initiatives, with USD 1 million annually.

Youth working with printing machine habitat melinda Schmid habitat/ Photo © un-habitat/

Strength in the community – youth power The Environmental Youth Alliance Volunteer, Justin Sekiguchi is the point man for one of the most exciting components of the Urban Entrepreneurship Programme – the creation of Waste Management Centres, operated by networks of youth groups in a community, as businesses. “While not all waste, water and sanitation activities that youth groups undertake can be run as successful businesses, especially in isolation, there is good business sense in having youth groups get together and process recyclable materials on a large scale,” says Mr. Sekiguchi. Mr. Sekiguchi’s team has been able to mobilize more than 500 young people in the two Nairobi slums of Makadara and Mathare. Each is equipped with a shredding machine to add resale value to waste plastics, but is also set up to handle the processing of scrap metal, glass, and paper or cardboard. Beyond the physical infrastructure, the coordinators focused on strengthening existing bonds between neighbouring youth groups within the community, and facilitating cooperative networks that have the capacity to run these centres and the equipment as a team – and for profit. Their training included interactive business simulation, the technical aspects of waste

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management, recycling, and the operation of plastic-processing machines. In addition to the training, the two groups each received step-bystep support for the creation of management structures for their centres, and were full participants in the planning and execution of their working premises. The construction phase for their premises, which ran in parallel with the various training and the management advice, provided temporary employment for 30 youth, as well as significant business for local suppliers and service providers. On an ongoing basis, there are now 20 active youth groups with some 550 members, now successfully managing the centres profitably in two of Nairobi’s lowest-income neighbourhoods. The centres have the potential to benefit the livelihoods of hundreds of jobless young people over the long term. But the process has not been simple or straightforward. Indeed, both communities face ongoing challenges of political strife and internal factions, some of which continue to flare up and interrupt business activities. Nonetheless, the shared, youth-led management of the waste management centres stands as a hopeful symbol of change for the better. Tackling waste management in slums, so closely tied to problems of health and sanitation, in a way that also addresses issues of livelihood and economic security, is something that UN-HABITAT hopes to replicate in future through similar initiatives that build on the Urban Entrepreneurship Programme’s successes.

Learning all the time What is clear from the baseline study of the 16 participant groups and their businesses, and from the experience of the Urban Entrepreneurship Programme pilot, is that these groups cannot simply build their way out of poverty by providing waste, water or sanitation services to equally impoverished customers. They need to be linked to markets outside the slums and low-income areas they are currently comfortable with. But they need support to develop their highest business potential, so that the much needed services they provide in their poverty stricken communities can be still more sustainable. In the words of Mr. Nderitu of the Kinari Small-Scale Self Help Group: “People joined together have the power to lift each other because I myself cannot do it alone.” While simply pushing large numbers of jobless youth through entrepreneurship training is unlikely to have much impact, in the longer term, delivering thoughtfully tailored programmes designed to support fledgling youth-led business activities may do so. This is one of the key strengths that set the Urban Entrepreneurship Programme apart from generic business and entrepreneurship training programmes. UN-HABITAT hopes these innovative entrepreneurship methods can be applied to its activities in slums across the board in future. They are also principles which the agency believes crucial for municipal and local governments and authorities to adopt if they are to meaningfully address issues of youth and urbanization, which are so intricately linked. u


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Africa: News

ENVIRONMENT African cities firmly part of Copenhagen preparations Cities from all over Africa have prepared their contribution to the Local Government Climate Roadmap. The main aim of the summit was to mobilize African Local Governments to actively engage towards a strong climate agreement in Copenhagen in December at the COP15 and to ensure that local governments are formally recognized as key climate change role players. These outcomes have also been formally presented to the National Department of Environmental Affairs National Climate Consultation session on 4 August 2009 and subsequently fed into the African National Climate Change negotiating process. SECURITY Displaced Africans to gain access to land African government officials have developed new policies to help vulnerable people, such as those without land, women and displaced citizens, have equitable access to land. African leaders made a joint declaration regarding the aim of the new policies at their 13th Ordinary Session this summer. Mohamed el Sioufi, the Director of UN-HABITAT’s Shelter Branch has applauded the move, saying it is a “landmark decision that reflects the critical role of land in African development.” This development is also in keeping with aims set out by the African Union Commission, the Economic Commission for Africa, and the African Development Bank Land Policy Consortium in 2006. HOUSING UN-HABITAT to put roofs over heads in Great Lakes region A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the UN-HABITAT and the International Conference on the Great Lakes region which commits both parties to work together towards better protection of land and property rights for displaced populations, while addressing land and property issues during and after displacement. Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UNHABITAT says that she sees the venture as an “opportunity to work together to mobilize resources and help the significant number of displaced persons in Africa.” The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region is an institution created by the governments of several African countries. DISASTER MANAGEMENT Aid for victims of fire and floods in Nigeria Nigeria’s National Emergency Agency (NEMA) has proposed a new scheme to offer insurance to vendors who lose their assets in natural disasters. NEMA say that government aid in West Africa is limited for those whose livelihoods have been destroyed due to fires and floods and the new scheme should help Nigerians to bounce back. However, NEMA are aware that the scheme is out of reach for the 81 million Nigerians who live on less than USD 1 per day. Negotiations are underway for the scheme to reach more small-holder farmers.

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Infrastructure South Africa signs EUR 120 million loan to improve roads

South Africa is pushing to improve its infrastructure before 2010 Photo © ryan Glanze

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 120 million to the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) for the upgrade and extension of two key toll roads in northern South Africa. The road improvements will bring significant safety benefits as a result of improved road alignment, the construction of emergency lanes and grade-separated junctions. The project also has a strong social component as it will help to develop more remote regions and create direct and indirect employment opportunities during the construction and management stages. The loan was signed on 16 July in the EIB’s Headquarters in Luxembourg in the presence of Plutarchos Sakellaris, EIB Vice President re-

sponsible for lending activity in South Africa. Also in attendance were Nazir Alli, Chief Executive Officer and Inge Mulder, Chief Financial Officer of Sanral, as well as the Hon Dr A Sooklal, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa. “The EIB is delighted to support the upgrade of these key toll roads, a project which is exactly in line with our objective of supporting economic growth in South Africa through the promotion of improved public infrastructure,” says Sakellaris. With increased pressure on South Africa to develop its infrastructure ahead of the 2010 World Cup, the EIB funding will be used to support the upgrade and widening of 30 kilometres of the R21 linking Pretoria and the O.R. Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg, as well as improvements to over 160 kilometres between Springs and Ermelo on the N17 which links Johannesburg and Swaziland. In 2008, the EIB supported sustainable economic development in South Africa by investing in three projects to the value of EUR 202.5 million, almost doubling its financing activity compared with EUR 113 million in 2007.” u

Energy Solar-powered mobile phone launched in Kenya The Kenyan telecommunications company, Safaricom, has launched the first solar-charged mobile phone for its local market. Branded Simu ya Solar and manufactured under a partnership with China’s ZTE, the handset is made from recycled materials and has an in-built solar panel that charges the phone. Simu ya Solar, which also comes with a conventional charger, will be on sale at a price of KES 2,999 (USD 39). “Solar power is the way to go as it is cheap, green and renewable,” says Safaricom Chief Executive Officer, Michael Joseph. “This solarcharged phone will come in handy particularly in the rural parts without grid electricity, and even in urban areas for those who are keen on saving on phone maintenance costs.” Safaricom already has over 60 Base Transmission Stations (BTSs) that are operating on renewable energy sources – wind and solar – in

various parts of the country. “Our subscribers can now talk all day and night without worrying about the level of charge and charging costs,” says Joseph. u

A solar-powered phone means no more costly visits to distant power-points for mobile users Photo © Safaricom


Africa: News

Housing Kenya transfers land to UN-HABITAT for new housing project Kenya’s Ministry of Lands has granted UNHABITAT almost 55 acres of land to be used to build affordable housing and to improve the livelihoods of people living and working in slums. The land, in the municipality of Mavoko about 25 kilometres southeast of the capital Nairobi, was handed over to the UN agency as part of the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (KENSUP). Kenya Women Land Access Trust will receive 30 percent of the donated land that has been allocated for the building of homes. The trust aims to help low-income women in housing cooperatives to become homeowners, so they can have greater security of tenure and an investment for the future. Mainstream banks are generally reluctant to consider low-income women with informal employment for loans even though some

have reasonably stable incomes but with innovative housing finance schemes initiated by UN-HABITAT, they now have the chance to become homeowners. In Kenya, 58 percent of young women who are employed in Nairobi and other large cities work in the informal sector, according to the 2008-2009 State of the World’s Cities Report. There are plans to build 100 homes in Mavoko, through a partnership between six local housing cooperatives, the Housing Finance Company of Kenya and UN-HABITAT, through the use of Experimental Reimbursable Seed Operations (ERSO). Experimental Reimbursable Seed Operations provide loans to local financial institution which in turn leverage the funds to provide loans to the urban poor for housing and infrastructure upgrading, such as for water and sanitation. u

IN-FOCUS

HOUSING FINANCE US private equity fund supports affordable housing in South Africa International Housing Solutions (IHS), a private sector fund which gives money direct to developers and takes a share of their profits, is planning to invest 1.5 billion rand in South African housing as well as to launch a USD 400 million fund for pan-African investments. IHS has been active in South Africa since 2006 where it has invested ZAR 500 million (USD 63 million) to build affordable housing. Many South Africans live in shacks in townships not simply out of poverty but because there is no affordable alternative. IHS transfers money direct to developers so they can then obtain bigger bank loans at cheaper borrowing rates to build lower cost housing. ENERGY Solar water heating in South Africa gets a boost A pro project undertaken by Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) aimed at rolling out solar hot water heating (SWH) on a mass scale in South Africa has been successful in moving several cities towards adopting SWH bylaws, and provides a renewable energy manual for other cities. A follow-up project in Cape Town will see the installation of an additional 10,000 SWH units each year, thus saving 6.25MW and 20,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. ENERGY Nigerian police discuss urban safety More than 200 Nigerian police officers gathered in Abuja in September for training aimed at bettering their skills in maintaining law and order in urban areas. UN-HABITAT, United Nations Office on Drugs and the Nigeria Police hosted the three-day Safer Cities Expert Group meeting on policing urban spaces. Twenty International experts, police commissioners and youth and civil society organizations also attended. Ibrahim Y. Lame, Minister of Police Affairs, said that in order to enhance the mobility and social cohesion in urban spaces, local authorities and police as well the community should work hand in hand. URBANIZATION Urban poor getting poorer

The land given will see many people taken out of informal settlements and given proper housing amenities Photo © eduard traG

Rapid urbanization is fuelling poverty among an estimated four million Kenyans, almost a third of whom are in the capital Nairobi. They are unable to meet basic nutritional, health and other needs, says a new report by Oxfam. With the costs of basic health services up by 16 percent, fuel by 65 percent and water by 114 percent, expenditure on items such as water, soap, sanitation and education has also dropped. Already, the majority of the slum population spends at least 75 percent of their income on staple food alone.

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Middle East: News

EDUCATION Israel and UN-HABITAT renew MOU A new Memorandum of Understanding regarding the training of urban professionals and sharing good practices has been signed by UN-HABITAT and Israeli government officials. Jacob Keider, Israeli ambassador to Kenya, the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Avigdor Lieberman and UN-HABITAT Executive Director, Anna Tibaijuka met to sign the agreement. Training on Gender in Local Government is currently under way in Israel with 24 participants from 18 countries. HOUSING UN-HABITAT mission to Palestine Following a resolution adopted at the 22nd session of UN-HABITAT Governing Council in April 2009 on the Special Human Settlements Programme for the Palestinian People, UN-HABITAT has started to scale up its activities in occupied Palestinian territory. Daniel Biau, Director of the Regional and Technical Cooperation Division (RTCD), and Alain Grimard, Senior Human Settlements Officer of the Regional Office for Africa and the Arab States (ROAAS) visited the region in August and met with Palestinian officials and partner institutions. The visit aimed to oversee and review UN-HABITAT’s activities and projects and to discuss the new UNHABITAT Programme Document (20092011) prepared for the occupied territories with different partners.

Transport Construction costs double for Dubai Metro Construction costs on the new Dubai Metro project have soared to AED 28 billion (USD 7.62 billion) from the AED 15.5 billion (USD 4.2 billion) originally estimated, according to the emirate’s Road and Transport Authority. The Dubai Metro, which has now opened, will eventually become the world’s longest driverless train system with more than 70 kilometres of track. One of the reasons for building the new system, the first such network in the Gulf, was to tackle the daily gridlock on the Sheikh Zayed Highway, though that involves encouraging passengers out of their air-conditioned cars and onto mass transit. This is not helped by the fact that summer time temperatures can climb as high as 50 degrees Celsius, or the availability of cheap petrol, with a litre in Dubai costing 41 cents compared with 77 cents in the United States at current market prices. With many ex-pat residents leaving because of the economic crisis, the city’s traffic has decreased anyway though the Transport

Authority expects 200 million passenger journeys on the metro each year, reducing road congestion by as much as 17 percent. The Authority expects the metro to generate USD 4.6 billion over the next 10 years. To raise cash, it has offered naming rights for 23 of the planned 47 metro stations, as well as the metro lines. So far, USD 490 million has been raised from such sales. The driverless metro will have women-only carriages, as well as VIP sections, offering passengers leather seats, a panoramic view from the front of the train and more legroom for just a few extra dirhams. A second track, the 22-kilometre Green Line looping the Dubai Creek, was originally scheduled to open next March, but will open three months later, according to the Rail and Transport Authority. Plans for a third line, linking Dubai’s existing airport and the Al Maktoum International Airport under construction near the border with Abu Dhabi, have been postponed. u

RENEWABLE ENERGY Swiss companies to set up at Masdar Masdar, the world’s first carbon-neutral city in Abu Dhabi, has signed a partnership agreement with the Swiss Village Association to develop a community of Swiss companies with expertise in clean technology and renewable energy. The Swiss Village will be a distinct neighbourhood within Masdar City allowing Swiss companies to design and construct their premises while supplying technology and materials for use throughout the city. WATER Drought unites Turkey, Syria and Iraq Syria and Iraq are to receive additional water from Turkey’s Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Turkey’s energy minister, Taner Yildiz, had previously stated that drought in Turkey meant that increased water for its neighbours would be impossible. The three countries have now signed an MOU pledging to cooperate with respect to finding additional water sources and combating drought in the region. The precise amount of water Turkey will give has not yet been announced.

Dubai’s investment may prove risky, as the recession has seen many people leave the city Photo © John nyberG

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Middle East: News

Housing UN-HABITAT launches new housing programme in Iraq UN-HABITAT has joined the government of Iraq to launch a new USD 70 million programme that will focus on urban governance, housing, infrastructure and basic services as the country recovers from years of conflict. The launch of the UN-HABITAT Iraq Country Programme was attended by senior representatives of Iraqi ministries and the international community in Baghdad, including UN agencies and donors. According to Ali Baban, Minister of Planning and Development Cooperation, the national unity government in Iraq is fully committed to the making the programme work. “This programme aims to stimulate growth, deliver better services to all, especially the poor and the most vulnerable, create employment, reduce poverty and maintain social and political stability in Iraq,” says Baban. “I welcome the partnership with UN-HABITAT in modernizing the Iraqi institutions of Housing and Urban Governance.” The new programme will focus on providing technical assistance and capacity building support to ministries and local authorities in Iraq. Mr. Istabraq Al-Shouk, Senior Deputy Minister of Construction and Housing and Chair of the Iraq National Human Settlements Committee

says: “Sustainable urban development is a major challenge for Iraq with most city councils unable to provide the desperately needed basic services including housing and jobs. This jointly developed programme, with excellent coordination between the government and UN-HABITAT will be key to identifying priorities to overcome some of the challenges that Iraq is facing at the moment.” In a televised address, UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said: “This is a historical moment in marking the partnership between the Government of Iraq and UNHABITAT.” Mrs. Tibaijuka reminded the International Community of its obligation to help Iraq achieve the Millennium Development Goals. u

Iraq will head into an era of urban sustainability, if the developed world takes responsibility Photo © Steve woodS

Sustainable development First sustainable waste facility opens in UAE The Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) has designed and installed the first purpose-built environmentally sustainable waste management facility in the United Arab Emirates. Located on Saadiyat Island and covering a total of three hectares (30,000 square metres), the new facility segregates and recovers all valuable commodities from waste material that would normally have been sent to landfill. The recovered commodities are then either reused on other construction projects on the island or sold. The new facility has so far processed more than 215,000 cubic metres of building waste, concrete and reject rock and has recovered over 199,163 cubic metres of reusable materials. The types of commodities typically salvaged include

roadbase products, aggregates, plastics, paper, cardboard, wood, steel and aluminium. “We take the issue of sustainable resources extremely seriously; and throughout all of our projects, from design to completion, we actively employ and implement sustainable best practice guidelines,” says Lee Tabler, Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Development & Investment Company. u

UAE’s landfill will reduce as more building waste is recycled Photo © tdic

IN-FOCUS

WATER Gaza Strip almost out of drinking water Water fit for human use in the Gaza Strip could run out in five to 10 years, according to the Gaza Coastal Municipal Water Utility (CMWU) and UN agencies working there. Only 5-10 percent of Gaza’s groundwater yields potable water, according to CMWU. The rapidly growing population, pollution and lower rainfall are among the factors blamed for the looming water shortage. A World Bank report, released in April this year claims that although Gaza has a master plan for water and sanitation, less that 2 percent of it has been implemented because of the Israeli blockade, which has led to a lack of materials. CONSTRUCTION Fifty-storey tower will put Beirut in the spotlight The Sama Beirut tower will soar to 200 metres in height when it is completed in 2014. The developers, Antonios Projects, hope that the tower will come to be a landmark in Beirut and pave the way for further projects of this magnitude. Both residential and commercial premises will be housed inside the tower, while views will be of green trees and aesthetically designed gardens. The skyscraper project was officially launched under the patronage of His Excellency, Lebanese Minister of Interior, Ziad Baroud in September. ENERGY Cairo slums receive solar makeover Solar panels in Egypt’s largest city are sprouting on rooftops, providing residents with clean power and water and a chance to directly improve their lives. Since 2003 the nonprofit Solar CITIES project has installed 34 solar-powered hot water systems and five bio-gas reactors in Cairo’s poor Coptic Christian and Islamic neighbourhoods. Solar CITIES’ hot water systems are constructed from recycled materials and are uniquely tailored to the parts of a city where water and electricity availability are often sporadic. Solar CITIES’s activities are currently limited to Cairo, but the team posts tutorials on how to build and install solar water heaters on YouTube. ENERGY More electricity for Kazakhstan The World Bank Board of Directors have approved a USD 48 million loan for the Kazakhstan Moinak Electricity Transmission Project, which will help to increase the supply of electricity to households and businesses in southern regions of Kazakhstan. The project will increase the capacity of the power transmission network to allow the flow of clean electricity that is to be generated by the 300 megawatt Moinak Hydroelectric Power Plant currently under construction.

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IN-FOCUS

Central and eastern Europe: News

EDUCATION Less bureaucracy, more cooperation Central and eastern European cities have identified four crucial areas through which valuable learning opportunities could be gained through cooperation with western cities. How to build the professional capacity of city administrations, how to develop city infrastructure and management, how to improve the provision of social services and how to make local and central governments work better together could all be tackled through better cooperation. Although there was a general consensus that cities should not wait for EU funding to begin or intensify working relations with EU cities and within regional networks, the feeling was that less bureaucratic EU funding would provide an important boost towards better and more frequent exchanges and joint initiatives. TRANSPORT Urgent need for new public transport in Istanbul The new Secretary General of Istanbul, Prof. Dr. Adem Bastürk, says that heavy investment ‚ is needed in the city’s public transport system. An increase in the number of cars on the roads has lead to congestion and Bastürk ‚ believes extending the existing railways and constructing a new metro system will help ease the flow of traffic. He named other problems faced by the city as pollution and earthquakes. Additional trains should also help combat the amount of car exhaust fumes emitted into the city’s air.

Transport EBRD funds pan-European transport corridor The European Bank for Reconstrucion and Development’s (EBRD) Board of Directors has approved a EUR 150 million sovereign loan to the Republic of Serbia to finance the construction of a new motorway section in Serbia along the strategic Corridor X. Corridor X is one of the 10 pan-European corridors and Serbia’s main transport route. It provides vital links to FYR Macedonia and Greece in the south and to Croatia, Hungary and western Europe in the north. The first section of the new E-80 motorway – an 18 kilometre section from Nis to Prosek – has already been built and the EBRD loan will be used to finance the construction of the remaining sections of the four-lane motorway. The construction of the 90 kilkometre-long stretch, running from Nis, Serbia’s third largest city in south east of the country, to Dim-

itrovgrad, on the border with Bulgaria, will allow Serbia to capitalize further on its location as a transit country for international traffic. With a total cost of approximately EUR 795 million, the project is co-financed by the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the Republic of Serbia. Serbia will also receive a grant from the EBRD Western Balkans Fund, which will be used to develop a plan for introducing the private sector into road toll collection and to assist with the preparation of the by-laws necessary for the implementation of the roads in Serbia. “The construction of the E-80 motorway is a strategic project for Serbia and for the region and will bring great benefits to Serbia in terms of trade facilitation and regional integration within the Balkans,” says Thomas Maier, EBRD Business Group Director for Transport. u

HOUSING Countries in central and eastern Europe ask UN-HABITAT for assistance Central and eastern European countries facing financial turmoil during the economic crisis have asked UN-HABITAT for innovative funding to develop sustainable housing. The request was made in Warsaw, in September, to members of the Advisory Council to the UN-HABITAT. In the short term, the financial crisis will cause a reduction of affordable housing, and, if the issue is ignored, social tensions could rise. Daniel Biau, Director of the Regional and Technical Cooperation Division of UN-HABITAT, highlighted the need for governments to find ways of promoting cheaper housing options for poor and low income households. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT New survey identifies cities’ sustainable development needs Researchers at the Urban Matrix project have identified which obstacles are standing in the way of sustainable urban development in European cities. Online surveys were conducted throughout 2006, 2007 and 2008 and more than 250 individuals from 80 cities in 23 European countries participated. Topics covered in the questionnaires included: energy and climate change, urban transport, and sustainable economic growth and social cohesion. Urban Matrix provides a knowledge transfer platform designed to support European local authorities in addressing sustainable urban development. ERBD sees improving eastern Europe’s road infrastructure as a priority

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Photo © andreJ ndre va SilJevic


Central and eastern Europe: News

Energy New technology unveiled to convert CO2 to petrol A scientist from Lublin in Poland has invented a revolutionary new way of turning the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into petrol through artificial photosynthesis of methanol. The method essentially reverses the combustion process, recovering the building blocks of hydrocarbons. They can then be used to synthesize liquid fuels like methanol or gasoline. Poland produces 340 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. This amount could potentially be converted into 280 million tonnes of methanol, and then between 80-120 million tonnes of petrol or diesel oil. That is five times more than Poland currently uses yearly, claims Dobieslaw Nazimek, professor at the Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, southeast Poland. Artificial photosynthesis of methanol is being assessed from an economic point of view and if viable, mass production of petrol from carbon dioxide could be possible in about three years, Nazimek claims. According to preliminary calculations, equipment built to produce 100 million litres of petrol would cost about EUR 24.2 million, which gives

about EUR 0.24 euro per litre of petrol. The business would pay for itself after the first year of production, claims Nazimek. “In our eyes, it is a true technological revolution,” says Nazimek. “Most countries already have reached peak oil, year by year that the raw materials derived lack resources required. Production of fuel from carbon dioxide is a solution for the economies around the world and is a strategy that can rid our dependence on imported fuel.” u

Turning carbon dioxide into petrol could see much less of the greenhouse gas pumped into une on the atmosphere Photo © Peter SuneS

Energy GE to supply turbines for Europe’s largest wind farm Czech power group, CEZ, has signed a contract with General Electric for the supply of the wind turbines for its EUR 1.1 billion, 600-megawatt project in Romania. The CEZ Group’s wind farm in Dobrogea, 117 kilometres from the Black Sea, will be the largest onshore facility in Europe. The wind turbines represent GE’s most advanced turbines in terms of efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities. GE is already installing 139 turbines in the first phase of the wind farm’s construction. Eastern Europe is lagging behind many of its western neighbours in meeting EU renewable energy goals, relying mainly on coal and nuclear for its electricity generation. But investors are drawn to Romania where they find a sympathetic ear from a government eager for renewable power plants to bring them closer to EU goals, while at the same time replacing

outdated communist-era infrastructure. The CEZ wind farm will also lessen the impact of a EU climate package proposal expected to push up costs for power generation from fossil fuels starting in 2013. The first stage of the Dobrogea project will be finalized during the first part of 2010, and the second stage is expected to be implemented in 2011. u

The government in Romania has sought out a renewable power deal Photo © miGuel Saavedra

IN-FOCUS

TRANSPORT Belgrade to expand public transport infrastructure Officials in the Serbian capital of Belgrade are considering scrapping plans to construct a new capacity-based rail system and build a heavy metro network instead. The city’s 2003 transport plan called for an increase to public transport infrastructure, but political changes have meant the rail system plan could now give way to the plan for the metro, which was originally drawn up in the 70s and 80s. A feasibility study has been taking place to determine the most sustainable option. GOVERNMENT PLANNING Kosovo asks for public opinion Citizens in Kosovo have been invited to explain how they would run their local towns if they were in charge. The Association of Kosovo Municipalities (AKM) ran a competition called: If I Was a Mayor, which encouraged residents to submit a plan for leadership. Entrants were assessed by criteria pertaining to: their leadership role, delivery of quality services and citizen participation. Ten winners were chosen and their plans have been published with the hope that actual mayors will take notice of the citizens’ ideas. The Council of Europe gave their support to the project. ENERGY Turkey signs gas-pipe deal with Russia A recently planned gas pipeline involving Turkey has signalled a potential power reconfiguration in the eastern European region. Russia is the main gas supplier to Europe, and used a pipeline that ran from the Ukraine to Europe. However, due to political discord last year, the supply was halted and much of Eastern Europe suffered from a gas shortage during the winter. A new transit route through Turkey was needed to ensure a steady and reliable supply of gas. Turkey and Russia reached agreement in August 2009, and the South Stream project is expected to begin construction of the pipeline in 2010. The pipeline will carry gas from Russia, through the Black Sea (including Turkish territorial waters), through Bulgaria and into Europe . INFRASTRUCTURE EUR 200 million loan to build new Slovak motorway The EBRD is bringing private finance to the modernization of the transport system in the Slovak Republic with a loan for the construction of the R1 motorway, part of the east-west national corridor. The project launches the Slovak government’s Private Public Partnership (PPP) programme to upgrade the road network in Slovakia in order to stimulate the economy and improve links among urban areas and regional communities.

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URBAN WATCH

World Habitat Day news

Dateline Washington – World Habitat Day

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N-HABITAT spearheaded the global celebration of World Habitat Day this year from Washington DC at a glittering event hosted by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Highlights of the event on Monday 5 October included the presentation of the Scroll of Honour Awards for individuals, cities or institutions that have made achievements in the field of human settlements. World Habitat Day is also used to launch the agency’s biennial flagship publication, the Global Report on Human Settlements 2009. In keeping with tradition, the report’s theme is the same as that World Habitat Day itself - Planning our Urban Future. (See cover story page 16). “A troubling trend has emerged in many cities in developed and developing countries alike: the growth of up-market suburban areas and gated communities, on the one hand, and the simultaneous increase in overcrowded tenement zones, ethnic enclaves, slums and informal settlements, on the other,” says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a special message to mark World Habitat Day. “Stark contrasts have also emerged between technologically advanced and wellserviced business sectors, and other areas defined by declining industry, sweatshops and informal businesses. Better, more equitable urban planning is essential. New ideas from smart cities around the world are pointing the way toward sustainable urbanization. But there is far more to do. Urban poor need improved tenure and access to land. All cities need safer and more environmentally friendly public transport, housing security, clinics and public services. There is also a need to mobilize financing for urban development.” In her statement, Mrs. Tibaijuka says the choice of this year’s theme reflects the fact that in many parts of the world, urban planning systems have changed little and that in some cases they contribute to the problems rather than help solve them. World Habitat Day has been celebrated annually in cities around the world since 1986. u

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The 2009 UN-HABITAT Scroll of Honour award winners 1. Un Techo Para Mi País, a Chilean NGO For providing 42,000 homes for the poor in 15 Latin American countries. 2. The Alexandra Renewal Project, Johannesburg, South Africa For helping thousands of poor people move into better homes and boosting health, water and electricity services. 3. Al-Medina Al-Munawarah Local Urban Observatory, Saudi Arabia For pioneering a Local Observatory System now used elsewhere the country and in the Middle East for smart urban planning. 4. Rizhao Municipal Government, China For transforming their city into a green zone with new housing and infrastructure. 5. The City of Grozny, Russia For resurrecting their war scarred city and providing new homes for thousands. 6. Peter Oberlander, Canada A founding father of UN-HABITAT – for a lifetime of promoting the urban agenda around the world. 7. Jan Peterson, United States of America For championing the rights of grassroots women and their movements for better human settlements. 8. Neal Peirce, journalist, United States For a lifetime of journalism dedicated to reporting cities for cities for a better urban future. 9. UWESO, the Uganda Women’s Efforts to Save Children For providing water, health and sanitation to orphans and vulnerable children. 10. The City of Malmö, Sweden For its innovative, holistic approach to becoming a 21st-century eco-city. 11. Cementos Mexicanos (CEMEX) For helping more than one million poor people build their own homes, and more.

The 2010 Cities Lecture Award will be held in Rio uckSh Sh SantoS antoS next March Photo © erick iuckS

The UN-HABITAT Cities Lecture Award UN-HABITAT is accepting nominations for its 2010 Cities Lecture Award. The award carries prize money of USD 10,000 and the privilege of delivering the lecture at the next World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in March 2010. Applicants should be internationally recognized through their original and significant contributions to the cause of human settlements. Those interested in stepping forward to deliver an exciting and thought-provoking lecture have until 30 October 2009 to apply. A full CV with publications list and a supporting statement of no more than two pages should be sent to the following e-mail address: hs-net@unhabitat.org


HABITAT Business Awards

URBAN WATCH

Sharing best practices is the key to sustainability

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wenty companies have been granted awards by UN-HABITAT, which were presented at the Habitat Business Forum in Delhi in July. The awards are designed to publicize outstanding achievements of the private sector in contributing to sustainable urbanization through corporate responsible practices. “We need pioneers like these 20 awardwinning companies to drive forward good practice, as many people will follow what works and we must keep pushing towards sustainable urbanization,” says Simon Reddy, chief executive at the C40, which unites 40 cities to fight climate change through joint programmes and meetings. One aim of the awards (see map for the full list of winners) is to make cities aware of each other’s programmes so they can benefit from innovations which might be employed in their own city. It is far better that cities cooperate and learn from private sector achievements in other cities than operate in isolation. As Wade Crowfoot, Director of Climate Protection Initiatives in Mayor Gavin Newsom’s of office in San Francisco, explains: “There have been countless times over the last five years where we just happen to find out that a city has been working on exactly the same thing as us, where we would have greatly benefited from being able to share that information otherwise we end up reinventing the wheel.” Following a recommendation of the awards’ selection committee, UN-HABITAT has committed to fund a public campaign to raise awareness of the best practices identified by the awards. This will aid both the sharing of knowledge and also bring underrepresented countries into the frame so that they can participate and benefit. As well as publicity, another factor limiting the sharing of innovation and good practices is bureaucracy. Governments and cities need to remove red tape so that private sector innovations can be spread for the benefit of the local population. Greg Rice, chairman of Australian company Rapid Building Systems, whose Rapidwall plaster panels were

Photo © kevin Jaako

Car-free days in Seoul is a best practice other cities could follow

recognized for being a sustainable solution to affordable mass housing in developing countries, says: “A city mayor should invest for the benefit of their city but it takes an awful long time for things to get approved.” Andrew Kluckow, managing director of UK company, Meckow International, whose innovative filtering product was praised by UN-HABITAT for providing safe drinking water, says removing levels of bureaucracy and regulation is imperative. Kluckow describes going to and fro between non-governmental organizations and government departments during a cholera epidemic in an attempt to donate Aquapur units to Africa without paying import tax. He was finally told he would have to make the donation through the head office of an organization in Europe. “I told them that by the time we go through all the bureaucracy and have been given approval, there will be at least 20 people dead,” says Kluckow. Cities also need to share information so that their leaders feel they can achieve results. “This is not down to a lack of will but more

to do with a lack of confidence as to ‘how do you apply some of these good practices in my city?’” explains Reddy of C40, which through webinars, workshops and conferences on specific areas is bringing cities together in order to share good practices. “When we first started looking at this it was incredible to realize that cities like Bogotá have pioneered the energy-saving Bus Rapid Transit, Stockholm has got bio-gas buses, Seoul has carfree days, and Tokyo, a city of over 12 million people, has one of the most efficient water delivery systems, losing only 3.5 percent to leakage.” But surely it is not one-size-fits-all and city leaders are right to assume that what works for others probably will not work for them? Not at all, says Reddy, who explains that this is exactly what C40 are trying to overcome. “Everyone’s going to be different, but if they can find out how cities have done it, learn from their successes and their mistakes, and replicate them in their own cities, we can accelerate the rate at which we drive down greenhouse gas emissions.”

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Habitat Business Awards 2009 Unique Straw Products Project, Uganda www.kwiuganda.org Kinawataka Women’s Initiative works to improve the income of the poor through training. They organize activities such as recycling local waste materials to produce marketable products such as shoes and handbags.

Por Fin Nuestra Casa, PFNC LLC, USA www.pfnc.net Por Fin Nuestra Casa (Finally, a home of our own) is an affordable solution to the housing shortages in developing countries using recycled steel shipping containers. Housing demand is answered while green spaces are maintained.

Aquapur, Meckow International Ltd, UK www.meckow-international.com Meckow’s Aquapur is an affordable water treatment product that can be used to deliver clean, safe drinking water anywhere, which requires no electricity, and has a lifeexpectancy of between 20 and 25 years.

Tree Planting for Children’s Health, Kenya The Our Lady of Nazareth Primary School has planted trees for renewable energy and improved the air in Nairobi’s slums. The goal is to plant 12,000 trees and to instruct students in natural science and environmental conservation. Jeddah Urban Observatory, Lebanon www.khatibalami.com Khatib & Alami established the Jeddah Urban Observatory, which uses high-tech GIS technology to assess, identify and monitor urban conditions and provide decision makers with the tools to solve urban issues. ADPROSA, Guatemala www.adprosa.com ADPROSA gives poor Guatemalans access to affordable housing through microfinancing partnerships with local banks. Financial assistance is also provided for prospective homeowners.

Key The map indicates the source countries for the products and projects recognized as Good Practices by the international selection committee. The awards were given in five categories (see below) on the basis of impact, innovation, sustainibility and affordability. CATEGORY 1: Affordable Housing Solutions CATEGORY 2: Sustainable Water, Sanitation, Waste Management and Urban Infrastructure Solutions CATEGORY 3: Clean Urban Energy Solutions, Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change CATEGORY 4: Innovative Information and Communications Technology Solutions CATEGORY 5: Conflict-related and Natural and Disaster Mitigation and Post-Disaster Reconstruction

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Social Real Estate Investment Trust, Sri Lanka www.ashoka.org/node/3963 The Wiros Lokh Insitute is recognized for its initiative to move slum dwellers from urban areas into modern housing through a partnership aligning local government, investors and the poor.

WIPRO Energy from Organic Waste, India www.wipro.com WIPRO manages solid waste generated in an urban enrvironment in an eco-friendly manner, thus reducing the discharge of untreated waste to the surrounding area.


Good Practices North Ankara Entrance Urban Renewable Development Project, Turkey www.tobas.com.tr This initiative by Tobas Metropolitan Municipality Construction, Real Estate and Project Co. aims to provide a hygienic environment for 5,000 people living along the main road leading to the northern entrance of Ankara City. Those with title to their land will be given new houses and those without will be settled in special housing.

Baltic Pearl, China www.baltic-pearl.com Baltic Pearl is an integrated town development project, run as a joint venture between Russia and China. Improvements to the Gulf of Finland coast and two nearby canals are being made and the result will be a new residential area without damage to the ecological environment.

Nanjing Tiptop International Apartment, China www.fengshang2002.com This project from the Beijing Fengshang Real Estate Co. is China’s first carbon neutral residence and demonstrates how low energy consumption is possible alongside high quality living space through the use of solar energy and other renewable energy.

Dayu Chengbang, China Chanchun Quinyan Real Estate Development & Construction Co. Ltd has been involved in several shanty town renovation projects that take into account social, economic and ecological issues.

Qionghai City, China www.Qionghai.gov.cn Qionghai Municipal People’s Government has made huge efforts to integrate original cultural and ecological aspects into their urban developments.

Coal Mining Subsistence Area Management and Shanty Town Renovation, China Tangshan’s Nanhu Urban Central eco-Park is recognized for the development of a Coal Mining Subsidence Area. Converting a gritty industrial area into an eco-city, suitable for outdoor recreation and mass tourism.

Dujiangyan City, China www.djy.gov.cn Sichuan Dujiangyan People’s Government is rebuilding Dujiangyan City, Sichuan Province, which was recently devastated by a major earthquake. The aim is to combine postdisaster reconstruction and urban-rural planning.

The Green Project, Brisbane, Australia www.thesalagroup.com The Sala Group’s Green Project provides low-cost and low-impact communities for senior citiizens. The residents own their houses but lease the land by paying a weekly fee, creating a long-term partnership.

Tanaji Malasure City, India www.tmcity.in This social housing project was set up by TMC Matheran Realty Ltd based on the principle of sustainable development and green building technology with a zero subsidy philosophy. The company constructs quality housing for the poor at prices as low as USD 4,000 by crosssubsidizing the homes with the yields from commercial and real estate development.

Integrated Planning Project, India www.lodhagroup.com This proposal from the Lodha Group is an integrated township project with high functionality and low cost. In addition to the necessary infrastructure, it also has plans for adequate commercial space to maintain economic viability and integrate ecological sustainability (landscaping, greening, solar power etc.)

Tieling New Town, China www.tieling.gov.cn The transformation of Tieling as a major economic hub by establishing residential and commercial areas has turned a lowincome area into a vibrant new town.

Rapidwall, Australia www.rapidwall.com.au Rapid Building Sytems has developed Rapidwall, a recyclable, lowcost, high-strength, load bearing gypsum plaster building panel that was singled out as an environmentally friendly, affordable and sustainable solution to alleviate housing demands in emerging economies.

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People

Postcard from Sweden Claudia Umanzor Zelaya, newly qualified as an architect in Sweden, recently completed a few months of work experience at UN-HABITAT’s headquarters in Nairobi. Here she asks what she can take home to her troubled, beloved Honduras.

I

left my home in Honduras for Gothenburg, Sweden where I qualified as an architect, promising to return home once I had adequate tools to create positive change. I understood the wonder of my country from a very early age. I recall holidays in the company of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. We had the big house, Grasodal , a name that my grandfather picked for his beloved countryside property, 40 kilometres from Tegucigalpa. I remember so well the outings to the beaches in Puerto Cortés. Those beach trips were such a contrast to the modest means of my parents during the first years of my life in East and later West Germany where I grew up until I turned eight. It was during those years that I started to establish the first comparisons between places – more limited than elaborate – but sufficiently stimulating to start an obsession that would never abandon me. Situated in the heart of the Americas, Honduras is home to people from many backgrounds. We enjoy the humour of television series such as Seinfeld. We sing José Alfredo Jiménez songs at the top of our voices. We cry to the heartfelt melodies of Pablo Milanés alluding to a Latin America thirsty for revolution in the 1980s. We dance the salsa, merengue, bachata, and reggeatón of the South American and Caribbean people skilfully and with grace. Our heritage is also reflected in the urban fabric, not just in our music, but in the chessboard layout the city, its streets around the central park, a legacy of Spanish rule and style. There are many streets and avenues where vehicles roar about with without consideration for pedestrians, not to mention cyclists. There are drive-thru banks, drivethru fast food, and drive-thru pharmacies – all evidence of the influence of the United States. The magnificent houses in New Orleans style are vestiges of the banana company era, predominant in the northern part of the country.

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A tram in Gothenburg: efficient and clean

I have carried all this cultural baggage to Sweden, where I, as an architect, I have found a paradise of sustainable policies and good practices. It is a unique opportunity to shed new light on the reality of my country. Swedish socio-political history will be very useful to take home, especially in these times of crisis in our country, now sadly divided. In some fashion I think that Sweden’s neutrality during World War II – to my mind at least – represents a metaphor to the indifference that Hondurans have demonstrated towards social processes, which has not been the case of our neighbours, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Hondurans will never be the same again. All of a sudden everyone seems to have an opinion and feels empowered to become a change maker. What can I take home? Gothenburg has a public transport system has trams and buses that are modern, efficient, hygienic and environmentally sustainable. I don’t exaggerate when I say that in the streets of Gothenburg one feels like a queen, in the middle of big avenues, be it by bike or by foot. There are many benefits to a developed society such as this and I am aware that in

Photo © Graham lewiS ewi

measurable terms in Honduras, we have a lot to learn from Sweden. But missing in Sweden are the easy smiles regardless of the circumstances; the nonchalance of a person repeatedly mistaken for someone else; the faith of those who thrive on hope, dreams and magic – traits made popular by important Latin-American authors, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Being in Europe, my family has always and regularly sent me nostalgic little goodies from home, to satisfy my melancholy. I am from where there is a river, from the top of a hill, from a family with the smell of the earth, tobacco and warmth. I never imagined that serving the United Nations in Africa I would feel at home and that I no longer needed these parcels any more. It is an unknown and yet somehow familiar land. While all these impressions are settling in my mind, and I figure things out, at least it is clear to me now that the best form of development will never be at the extremes of the spectrum. I dream of a hybrid Honduras. And so long as I live, I will be searching for this ideal for my country. u


Conference and events calendar

URBAN WATCH

Low Carbon Cities (45th ISOCARP International Congress) 18-22 October 2009 Porto, Portugal www.isocarp.org

The 45th Congress explores the role of planning, and of all those involved in the planning and development process, in the drive to achieve less resource intensive, low carbon cities. There will be workshops on: Tackling The Effects of Climate Change on our Cities and Urban Regions – Today and Tomorrow; Strategic Land Use Planning for Low Carbon Cities; Transport, Community Energy, and Waste/Recycling Strategies; Design for Low Carbon Cities, and the Management and Delivery of Low Carbon Cities.

Cities Alive 19-22 October 2009 Sheraton Centre, Toronto, Canada www.citiesalive.org

In partnership with the City of Toronto and the World Green Roof Infrastructure Network, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities is organizing the inaugural CitiesAlive World Green Roof Infrastructure Congress. The Congress is about the benefits of green roof infrastructure and aims to build the capacity of the green roof infrastructure market through an international exchange of information, and via local education, training and accreditation opportunities.

European Development Days 22-24 October 2009 Stockholm, Sweden www.eudevdays.eu

European Development Days is a yearly event hosted jointly by the European Commission and the EU Presidency. The event aims to make development aid more effective, to build a global coalition against poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Delegates from 125 countries are represented, including heads of state and leading world figures, Nobel prizewinners among them.

Efficient 2009 25-28 October 2009 Sydney, Australia www.efficient2009.com

Efficient 2009, the fifth in a series of events, is a premier international conference on the efficient use and management of urban water. The aim is to provide a forum for the exchange of the most recent ideas, techniques and experience in all areas of water management that could contribute to more efficient and sustainable use of water. Professionals from around the world (water managers, regulators, consultants, scientists, local authorities, environmentalists, researchers and providers of equipment and solutions) will attend the conference.

Positioning Planning in the Global Crises 12-13, November 2009 Bandung, Indonesia www.ppgc.or.id

An international conference on Urban and Regional Planning to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Planning Education in Indonesia, aims to bring together researchers, scientists, practitioners and students to exchange and share their experiences, new ideas, and research results about all aspects of urban and regional planning, and discuss the practical challenges encountered and the solutions adopted.

The International Journal of Neighbourhood Renewal 19-20 November 2009 London, England http://www.ihbc.org

This inaugural conference, organized by Holden Publishing, will showcase 45 neighbourhood renewal organizations from around the world. A range of agencies, companies and individuals that have contributed to improving local neighbourhoods and developing effective neighbourhood renewal strategies will be honoured during the event.

Urban Design Asia 2009 20-21 November 2009 Seoul, South Korea www.uda2009.org

The First International Symposium Urban Design Asia 2009, organized by Urban Design Institute of Korea, will be held to unite urban specialists and professionals to discuss the issues relating to the theme Urban Sustainability in Asia.

Urban Security Conference 26-27 November 2009 Mumbai, India www.the-euroindia-centre.org

The Confederation of European Security Services, based in Brussels, and the European Forum for Urban Security, based in Paris, together with the Confederation of Indian Industry will share expertise on the theme of Building Secure Cities for Economic Prosperity and Growth.

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New flagship publication

Global Report on Human Settlements 2009 The Global Report on Human Settlements: Planning Sustainable Cities is the most authoritative and up-todate assessment of conditions and trends in the world’s cities and other human settlements. Written in clear non-technical language and supported by informative graphics, case studies and extensive statistical data, these reports are essentials tools and references for researchers, academics, planners, public authorities and civil society organizations around the world. Planning Sustainable Cities reviews recent urban planning practices and approaches, discusses constraints and conflicts therein, and identifies innovative approaches that are more responsive to current challenges of urbanization. It notes that traditional approaches to urban planning (particularly in developing countries) have largely failed to promote equitable, efficient and sustainable human settlements and to address 21st-century challenges, including rapid urbanization, shrinking cities and ageing, climate change and related disasters, urban sprawl and unplanned peri-urbanization, as well as urbanization of poverty and informality. It concludes that new approaches to planning can only be meaningful, and have a greater chance of succeeding, if they effectively address all of these challenges, are participatory and inclusive, as well as linked to contextual socio-political processes. (See cover story page 16.)

UN-HABITAT P.O.Box 30030, GPO Nairobi 00100, Kenya Tel. (254-20) 762 3120 Fax. (254-20) 762 3477 www.un-habitat.org

FOR A BETTER URBAN FUTURE


Publications

URBAN WATCH

Planning prosperity: China’s special economic zones As globalization accelerates and competitive pressures increase, network clusters have emerged as an important form of economic organization to promote firm-level learning anchored on location advantage. Such network formation that has been driven by the high-tech sector has been spawned in specific geographic locations in China. Here, Here Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Director of UN-HABITAT’s Monitoring and Research Division, calls attention to the close association of industrial dynamism, city growth and wealth generation.

J

ust like South Korea and Taiwan before it, China very early recognized the need for fostering industrial clusters in the form of special economic zones (SEZs) as a policy tool to attract flagship firms that are at the centre of global production systems. For instance, between 1998 and 2006, China’s economic growth averaged an annual rate of 8.5 percent (See table right). This strong economic growth has been driven largely by export, the source of growth dynamics had been the clustering of industries along the coastal cities. Most of the regions with per capita Gross Regional Product (GRP) higher than the national average are located along the Changjiang River or the Pearl Delta River region. As a result of China’s huge market which is distributed among different geographic regions, the clusters vary considerably by their size, structural diversity of firms, as well as in the depth of cluster technological knowledge. This is manifested in the co-existence of small and medium enterprises with flagship firms for instance. The emergence and growth of high-tech clusters depends largely on two key factors – the proximity to strong science and engineering university bases, and second, the availability of well-developed infrastructure. Innovative clusters tend to form around sources of knowledge, based on a sophisticated infrastructure in which knowledge is developed, shared and exchanged. This is the case with the network clusters in China which have been formed around 52 high technology zones that started to emerge since 1988. According

China’s per capita GDP at constant price

to statistics by China’s leading research firm CCID, 90 percent of the high technology zones are in the electronics information industry. Among these are the information hardware sector in Zhongguancun Science Park, Shanghai Zhangjiang High Tech Park and the Zhuhai National High Tech Industrial Development Zone which produce more than 70 percent of total industrial output. The manufacturing bases are concentrated in the Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Fujian province

as well as Shanghai, and Beijing main cities. In these regions production is concentrated mainly in three locations including Yangzi River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and Loop Bo Sea Region, which have formed the computer manufacturing industrial clusters in those areas. However, clusters tend to have different features. For instance, Pearl River Delta has very strong costal manufacturing base relying on component import processing; Loop Bo Sea Region is the most highly knowledge intensive

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region with large numbers of low cost science and technology personnel, while Yangzi River Delta combines the above two factors, though it does not have as much concentrated knowledge base as Loop Bo Sea Region. These clusters are highly concentrated and demonstrate strong linkages between entrepreneurs, investors and researchers. They exist within localized geographical areas and interact within a larger system at the regional, national and international level. As with the rest of east Asia, clusters in China have become key factors in the country’s capacity to attract international investment that generates new technological expertise, to interest investors in innovation through the use of venture capital for example, and to benefit from the international mobility of skilled personnel. To illustrate the variety of clusters, I present two case studies, which reflect these characteristics common to a number of east Asian countries. The first is the Dongguan SME Network clusters and the second is the Tianjin flagship network clusters. Case 1: Dongguan Electronics SMEs Network Cluster Dongguan town is located in the middle of the Guangdong, Shenzhen and Hong Kong Economic Corridor, which is the most developed region of the Pearl River Delta. It has the best geographic location, which makes it the preferred location for global electronics manufacturing industry. Since the 1990s, Dongguan’s geographic advantage has been a source of considerable FDI flow which has led to the growth of its IT hardware manufacturing industry. Investment from Taiwan has helped to integrate Dongguan into the global electronics industry production system, and promoted the formation of industry network clusters. Dongguan has thrived on sub-contracting forms of collaboration of large, medium and small enterprises; interaction between upstream and downstream manufacturing which subsequently fostered assembly network clusters. There are over 800 Taiwan computer and electronics enterprises in Dongguan, and they have become the dominant players in the cluster. The production output of Dongguan exceeds 60 billion Yuan per year, with Taiwanese firms contributing over 50 percent of this value, much of which is traded in global markets. Dongguan has become one of the largest global computer and electronics products manufacturing bases as

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well as one of the largest electronics components export bases. What were the main triggers to the growth of this cluster? In addition to favourable policies, the initial reasons that Foreign Direct Investment started flow flowing into Dongguan were cheap land and its close proximity to Hong Kong. These factors combined with the favourable institutional context transformed to the special advantages of Dongguan, to build a global network of supply system. Much of this network advantage hinges on the fulcrum of consistent sector and national policies.

Case 2: Tianjin Electronics Flagship Network Clusters Tianjin Economy and Technology Development Area (TEDA) contrasts with Dongguan. While the latter is made up largely of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), this one is driven mostly by large enterprises especially the multinational corporation flagships. For instance, in 2001, large enterprises generated gross production value of CNY 70.2 billion (USD 10.2 billion), which was 91 percent of total industrial production while SMEs contributed only 9 percent.


Publications

Further reading Uneven Paths of Development: Innovation and Learning in Asia and Africa published by Edward Elgar Publishing. This book by Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, who is also Professorial Fellow at UNU-MERIT in the Netherlands, and Rajah Rasiah, Professor of Technology and Innovation Policy in the Faculty of Economics and Administration at the University of Malaya, Malaysia, and Professorial Fellow at UNU-MERIT, carries interesting new insights into the issues raised in this article. It seeks answers to the questions why east Asian countries have grown so fast, and African countries so slowly, for the last quarter century, although many countries in the two regions started off on a relatively even footing. It represents an important step forward to understanding this. A mustread for students of economics as well as practitioners seeking to understand and promote economic development, it draws on country data and experiences. Gross profits (including taxes) contributed by large enterprises was 94.52 percent in the same year. Foreign direct investment was CNY 72.7 billion (USD 10.6 billion), which was 94.29 percent for the industry, while state-owned, collective, stock share holders and other economic types amounted to only 5.71 percent. Gross profits (including taxes) by foreign direct investment were 95.9 percent. In the main, TEDA is a high-tech zone made up of electronics, telecommunications and computer and related component sub-sectors dealing in production and trade. In 2001, there were 28 multinational corporations in the top Fortune 500 companies engaged in 48 projects in TEDA; by 2003 the number reached 70. However, there are drawbacks to excessive reliance on multinational corporations. A closer examination of the flagships’ contributions to local capability formation shows that the transfer of technological capability to local firms has been limited. First, hi-tech industry development in TEDA has relied largely on enterprise network controlled by flagships leaving out local enterprises that are mostly small, with relatively dated equipment and limited assets to compete. Second, within the network clusters in TEDA, the linkages between the flagships and local enterprises in high tech production is rather weak and as such the channels for technology diffusion in TEDA is very limited. Concern for product quality and standard has meant that some key components and raw materials continue to be imported from both within and outside China. In 2007, there were 48,472 hi-tech enterprises in the development areas, employing a total of 6.5 million people, equivalent to about 8.5 percent of total employment. Among the large and medium-sized enterprises in these hi-tech

industries, only 0.47 million were engaged in science and technological activities. While the distribution of these enterprises and personnel vary across regions, most of the cities with a greater number of hi-tech enterprises also engage more workers. Five lessons learned But then what are the lessons for other latecomer countries? There are five main issues to be raised. Clearly, the growth of the Chinese industrial clusters, actively promoted by the government has resulted in the transformation of the cities involved over time into global production zones creating very unique forms of industrial organizations. The representative network clusters of Chinese hi-tech industry are located in Yangzi River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and Bohai Loop regions, which contribute nearly 80 percent of the country’s industrial growth. Second, much of the transformation of the Chinese city clusters has been due partly to historical and strategic reasons as well as political choices far back in the past. For instance, the initial condition of the country such as high pools of scientists and engineers, and the presence of knowledge infrastructure has been an important variable. In other words, development is pathdependent; history matters: the investment a country made in the past will shape the configuration of development today. Third, contrary to the Neo-liberal prescription advocating neutral industrial policy, State action is crucial for latecomer development. The competitive advantages of high technology industry could only have been possible through the same kinds of strategic policy initiatives that have proven successful in other east Asian mira-

URBAN WATCH

cles. The relationship of government-business is “Governed interdependence”; a kind of productive and complementary relationship: government agencies need the private sector for implementation of policies, while the private sector needs public agencies for coordination of catchup activities, particularly in financial allocation, risk-sharing and technological upgrading. The relationship between public and private sectors was not fixed, but co-evolved with the industry over time. Fourth, consistent with what is known about the behaviour of dynamic sectors everywhere, innovation processes of firms in high-tech areas are strongly shaped by their specific knowledge base, qualifications and skills, required organizations and institutions involved, as well as specific competitive challenges from a globalizing economy. These instruments were purposely targeted by policy in China contrary to much of what we see in Africa today. Finally, Chinese policy was able to proactively respond competently to changes in the external environment. Over time the environment within which Chinese industry developed changed significantly as policies evolved. First, market deregulation increased competition. Second, along with the reform of the industry, there was a focus on changes to rapid urbanization whereby cities such as Zhenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing were radically transformed. Very importantly, an open market policy did not mean less intervention in the Chinese case. A number of measures were taken to support the development of the domestic computer industry including tax policies; the setting up of the Development Fund, subsidiaries, and licenses as well as the emphasis on national production. Centres of wealth generation In summary, in all of these cases, cities emerged as important centres of wealth generation in China. Taking all the 287 cities at prefecture level together, they make up only 28 percent of the total population and 6.5 percent of the total area, but they contributed 63 percent of the GDP in 2007. In particular, they accounted for 73 percent and 66 percent of the nation’s tertiary and secondary industries, and over 90 percent of the total value of exports and imports. The broader lesson for poorer countries is that cities are central to poverty alleviation in ways in which they can become centres of production and innovation. u

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Urban World: Scaling new heights, New ideas in urban planning