Inside the slums and gated communities the opportunities and obstacles to sustainable and inclusive urban development can be seen.
There will be another 2 billion people living in urban areas by 2030. With a billion people now living in slums,and over 100,000 homeless people in Delhi, for example, it is no exaggeration to say that this is a critical decade for cities and the practice of urban planning.
A project that has resettled slum dwellers and given them security of tenure is being hailed as a model to be followed in the Indian sub-continent.
News from Sierra Leone that 9,000 slum dwellers have been made homeless by demolition of their homes highlights the need for planners to fundamentally rethink conventional approaches to housing the poor.
I was involved as a speaker in an event about indicators for sustainable urbanisation the UN-Habitat World Urban Forum in Naples. The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) has been working with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to explore ways towards harmonising approaches so that policy makers can be used to track progress towards (or away from) sustainable urbanisation. As Professor Eugenie Birch commented in the workshop, “There is lots of uncoordinated activity in this field”. In co-operating in this way CAP and HUD are contributing to global advocacy of the importance of urbanisation to sustainable development. Representatives of the Ford Foundation and of UN-Habitat also spoke on the same platform, demonstrating their support for the initiative.
The use of planning and built environment design to boost public health is attracting growing attention. Therefore the publication of a major, international research-based compendium is much to be welcomed. Water, crime, obesity, transport and food are amongst the many topics covered. Kevin McCloud, British designer and TV presenter has said “I’d like to see every politician, planner and developer given a copy.”
UN-Habitat has launched a new open-access portal for urban data. Urban Data allows users to explore data from a number of cities and regions around the world and compare indicators such as slum prevalence and city prosperity. you can try it out for yourself here.
This blog was first posted on the planning resource website on 3 July 2011.
The Maldive Islands: annual increase in urban population – 5.2%.; maximum height above sea level – 8 metres; rapidly growing tourist industry; four planners; no planning school.. Mozambique: annual increase in urban population 4.1%; proportion of urban population living in slums – over 90%; number of planning schools – 1. Basic facts like these hint at why planning education has become an important issue for the Commonwealth. What can we do to get planners with the right skills in the places where they are most urgently needed?