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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week launched his government's response to the urbanisation challenges it faces. The Smart Cities initiative was announced alongside a "Housing for All by 2022" programme. The aim is to create new Smart Cities while also regenerating old urban areas and addressing sustainability issues.

America's obesity crisis is creating a new concern to make healthy cities, though the rhetoric outstrips the plans. A recent blog on a health website says that more than half of U.S. adults don't meet the recommended daily requirements for aerobic exercise or physical activity. It makes the case for better planning and design to tackle the problem.

 

 

A wide-ranging review of the research literature reveals that living in an environment with plentful greenery seems to be associated with a number of indicators of good health. The study reveals what the authors say is "fairly strong evidence"  that there is a positive association between greenness and physical activity.

The increasing global emphasis on the cities must not obscure the importance of rural areas and their links to cities. This is the argument in a valuable thoughtpiece by Christine Platt, Past President of the Commonwealth Association of Planners in reflecting on the preparations for the Habitat III summit in Quito in October 2016.  

Almost half of the children in New Delhi are suffering irreversible lung damage because of the toxic levels of air pollution in the city. A number of factors make children particularly vulnerable to air pollution. They have lower immunity than adults and their respirtory tracts are easier for pollutnants to penetrate. Also particulate matter is concentrated at lower levels above the ground, so young children in particular are breathing in the worst air.

The new ESPON 2020 programme is offering three permanent jobs to join the team in their Luxembourg office. The posts are for a Project Expert with responsibility for Data, IT and the ESPON Toolbox; another Project Expert for Policy and Projects, and finally a Lawyer with expertise in European and Luxembourg law. The closing date is 16 June. For details email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Latvian Presidency of the EU has been pushing the case that towns have an important role to play in territorial cohesion. Key questions are what are the development ppotentials of towns and how can these best be realised? To this end, the ESPON programme has produced a commentary highlighting the main types of urban areas and towns across Europe.

In 2009-13 on average 856 persons were displaced from their homes each year in the occupied West Bank of Palestine, and 499 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished in each year by the Israeli authorities. Now research funded by the UK's Department for International Development has put a price on the economic damage this does.

The authorities in Rome this week demolished the Ponte Mammolo informal settlement where some people have lived permanently for well over a decade. Claims that residents were given advanced notice of the arrival of the bulldozsrs are disputed. The migrations from North Africa into Italy have seen some 200 new and transient people living on a parking lot for tourist buses in front of the main settlement, as they make their way north in search of jobs.

Ghana's urban population has grown from 4 million to 14 million in 30 years. This has underpinned economic growth, which has on average increased by 5.7% a year since 1984. Can this continue, or is the urban future bleak?

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