Shrinking cities are a focus of growing concern. Globalisation has increased the vulnerability of cities to sudden adverse changes in their economic base. Austerity policies augment the problems. Loss of a key economic activity, can be followed by net out-migration of economically active age groups, falling tax revenues, an aging population but declining public services, “excessive” infrastructure that is expensive to maintain, empty property and gap sites. What strategies are being pursued in different parts of the world to address these challenges?
A new publication that can be downloaded for free sets guidelines for how to plan and manage metropolitan development.
I have referred to Chinese urbanisation several times in these blogs, but make no apologies for returning to the topic. What is happening in China should be of interest to planners, urbanists, environmentalists and economic development professionals everywhere. In part this is because of the sheer scale of the changes – a rural to urban shift on steroids!
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.
I would like to award the prize for the best contribution to environmental sustainability for 2012 to Hurricane Sandy. Sandy single-handedly managed to convert more American citizens to the threats posed by climate change than any number of scientists, scientific publications or politicians. By dumping extreme weather on the US eastern seaboard, massively disrupting transport and business, and above all by providing great TV pictures, it made a strong case in many different ways.
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. "
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 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.
As ever more trips are made it becomes harder and harder to move around cities, even when money is invested in transport infrastructure. Across the globe, but especially in the rapidly urbanising mega cities of the global south, cities are facing a crisis of accessibility. Quite simply, unsustainable forms of urban transport are no longer working.