News items

The Foreign Ministers of the 28 European Union countries have called on Israel “to halt plans for forced transfer of population and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure” in the village of Susiya in the West Bank. Eleven members of the US Congress have also written to Secretary of State John Kerry about the plight of the village.

The European Parliament has issed a useful briefing note explaining the background to moves to deveop an Urban Agenda for the EU, and also sketching out some of the political tensions that the move is generating.

Public spaces are integral to healthy and prosperous cities. This was the theme of  a major conference last week in the run-up to next year's Habitat III global summit. Place-making needs to be seen as contributing to the 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals. 

18 Past Presidents of the RTPI have signed a letter highlighting the findings of a recent report on planning in Area C of the West Bank. The letter says that the report "explains how planning is being used to block development and impede much needed infrastructure investment in Palestinian villages, while facilitating the construction of Israeli settlements which are illegal under international law. "

Ideas for reviving flagging public markets as places to shop, eat and meet were presented by experts at an international conference in Barcelona this week. With many public markets struggling to adapt to changing patterns of shopping the need for design and innovation has never been stronger, and the answer lies in creating a sense of place.

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.

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