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 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?
Look at your town centre as a network of gardens, a promenade, a stage and be prepared to be outrageous. This was the advice given by Julian Dobson to meeting of the Scottish Towns Partnership in Edinburgh. He stressed the need to challenge the existing narratives about town centres which are too often about decline and narrowly focussed on retailing.
The brutal murder of Emmanuel Sithole in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra is a frightening sign of the potential for ethnic divisions to destroy social cohesion and economic growth. It undermines the moral leadership that South Africa has been able to exercise since the end of apartheid. It is part of a pattern of Afrophobia and hatred directed at migrants from other parts of Africa.
A chilling article connects the violence on the township streets to attitudes in corporate boardrooms and failures of political leadership. With Africa such a key market for South African companies, the reaction of consumers across the continent is likely to result in economic damage. As always in cities, everything affects everythng else and actions have impacts far beyond administrative boundaries.
Informal development is now penetrating the formerly exclusive suburbs of Harare, Zimbabwe's main city. lLike many colonial cities the early planning of Harare sought to segregate areas by class and ethnicity. However, urbanisation and poverty are now resulting in green spaces in low density suburbs becoming the focus for informal housing that brings the poor to the doorsteps of the rich.
Keys to making urban growth boundaries work as a planning tool for controlling sprawl in US cities were identified in a session in the recent American Planning Association conference. Examples of urban growth boundaries were presented from Portland, Oregon; King County, Washington; and Denver.