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Changing urban planning: an urban SDG for compact cities

Dar es Salaam, 5 September 2014 — With Dar es Salaam continuing to grow, focus turns to what an urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) would mean for urban planning in the city. Can the lived experience of Dar es Salaam be changed through measuring and recognising sustainability? See more.

Sustaining Lagos through institutional reforms

Lagos, 4 September 2014 — Good governance coupled with political will creates an environment where policies can create sustainable development. One way to achieve this is through institutional reforms. See how these factors work together in Lagos to improve the lives of residents, spur growth and employment, and cater to both human and environmental needs. See more.

Protección de los Cerros Orientales: garantizando la sostenibilidad en Bogotá

Bogotá, 3 septiembre 2014 — Los Cerros Orientales de Bogotá constituyen un tesoro ecológico de incalculable valor para Bogotá. Tras siglos de explotación y olvido, la creación de un marco de protección jurídica ha sido un proceso largo y complejo, que ha culminado con una reciente decisión judicial. La falta de seguridad y la reparación de los daños ecológicos siguen siendo retos pendientes. Leer más.

Self-organized communities and development practices

Delhi, 2 September 2014 — Can development practices centered on collaborative community become mainstream in Delhi? This article discusses three case studies on community-centered development work and makes a case for legitimacy at ground level through the enactment of 74th Amendment and Local Area Plans in Delhi. See more.

Sustentabilidade urbana na prática: o caso do novo Plano Diretor de São Paulo

São Paulo, 1 setembro 2014 — Com seu novo plano diretor, São Paulo hoje é um laboratório de ideias de aplicação de princípios de sustentabilidade urbana no planejamento urbano. Com o objetivo de reequilibrar a cidade, grande foco foi colocado na questão do acesso à terra urbana, suas funções e densidades ideais, os espaços públicos e sistemas modais leves. Leia mais.

Innovating in an urbanizing world: leading from the middle

David Weiss, President and CEO, Global Communities

Last month, I attended UN Habitat's World Urban Forum, the world's premier gathering on the subject of cities and our urban future. Every two years, stakeholders from across the globe come together at the Forum to examine the most pressing issues facing our rapidly urbanizing world. Over the next three decades, 2 billion people will be added to our planet and most of this growth will take place in cities in developing countries. So, for international development organizations like mine, Global Communities, being able to hear perspectives from the growing number of policy makers, foundations, private companies and city residents that travel to the Forum is an invaluable learning opportunity. Read more.

Frontier cities: forging paths for partnerships and learning

Governor Richard F. Celeste of Ohio

As the world urbanizes, cities are poised to take the lead on many global issues like climate change, economic development, and poverty reduction. And the world will increasingly look to cities to take the lead. In the face of stagnant international negotiations on climate change, for example, cities are taking the lead through groups like C40, a network of the world's megacities taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Likewise, in an increasingly globalized economy, cities are investing in infrastructure and assets that maintain and attract companies in an effort to keep their competitive edge. Internationally, as the world urbanizes and government responsibilities decentralize in many countries today, the need to strengthen burgeoning local governments to play a wider role as community developers, as well as traditional service providers, is urgent. This "localization of development" presents an exciting opportunity to invest in city-to-city and peer-to-peer partnerships and networks. Read more.

Simulation models are fantastic tools for engagement

A lot of recent discussion around urban planning, resilience, and sustainable cities has included ideas about community engagement. How do we get the public more engaged in urban planning in ways that are effective - that honors good design, evidence-based science and community desires? Having decided that community engagement is a good idea doesn't make it easy. My friend and colleague PK Das of Mumbai has been involved in a lot of public engagement around the expansion of open spaces, and he said something insightful. One the one hand, plopping a big plan with an elaborate drawing down in front of an audience is not exactly engagement - in fact, it can easily be a buzz kill. On the other hand, when I asked Das what for him was the biggest difficulty, he responded: "As a professional, it is resisting the temptation to try an control the proceedings; I need to relax and be a participant." So there it is. How can we meld expert opinion (and science) and non-expert opinion (just as valid, but different) in a way that honors and includes both? Read more.

Urban development and the well-being of the bottom millions

Lagos is on the cusp of a radical change in the way the city is organised. Not only is the first light rail being built in the city, thirty years after the idea was first mooted; the government has also recently announced that construction will soon start on the 4th Mainland Bridge, long overdue by many standards. A few years ago I listened to a talk by the designers of that bridge, and was fascinated by how they envisioned it to not only work as a conventional bridge but also a direct stimulant/supporter of economic activity. The design is of a two-level bridge, the upper one for vehicular movement, the lower one for a combination of a tram line, rows of shops and goods vendors, and a pedestrian lane; that idea informed by the realization that modernizing Lagos does not have to happen at the expense of the trademark hustle-and-bustle that gives the city its peculiar character and feel; the things that make Lagos Lagos. Read more.

Educating new planners in Africa, but what is the future?

Within development studies a shift has been identified. An increasing sense of consciousness has emerged on whose ideas are being used to theorise development practice, whether they are applicable, and offer effective solutions. The post-development school of thought is centred on deconstructing 'universal' ideas of development. Novel viewpoints have emerged which are transforming how the 'developing' world is understood and what role citizens of the Global South can play. With post-development thought, urban researchers, and planners, are advancing new thinking to plan inclusive cities in the Global South. In a succeeding event on urbanisation at the African Research Institute, the subject matter was how urban planning in Africa is adapting for the future. Read more.