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Post by Marines Pocaterra

The United Nations has designated October 31 as World Cities Day.

This yearly celebration is expected to greatly promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanization, and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world.

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On the same day Halloween is also celebrated.  “Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.”

Both  simultaneous celebrations could represent the extremes of the present spectrum of urban challenges.

On one extreme “well-planned and well-managed cities that have turned efficient, attractive and provide a high quality of life, while also enabling further growth.

Cities like Seoul, have overcome poverty, and  are able to fully harness the benefits of urbanization to generate and sustain growth. These model cities of the future not only accommodate population increases and meet basic needs but create urban environments that are highly livable and sustainable.

Planning in these cities adopts a long-term, integrated view, and infrastructure is increasingly designed not only to be resilient but also to serve as green public spaces.”In Singapore, for example, urban growth has been managed in such a way that the city’s green cover has actually increased over time, in spite of increasing densities.”

On the other end are our urban ghosts: ungovernable cities due to poor management and inadequate planning. Inequality, with poor transport networks, majorities have few options to access economic opportunities and urban population doubling, cities sprawl beyond a point where basic services can be affordably or effectively provided.

Vast numbers of people occupy low-density settlements at the outskirts of the city without water, sanitation or electricity, and in high-risk areas. Investment in infrastructure cannot keep up, with the need for affordable land and housing.

War is taking a heavy toll in middle-east cities, with destroyed urban and production centers resulting in a huge displaced population.

This potential future threatens to become reality: increasing population, rapid urbanization, climate change effects, built areas more than doubling those on our present.

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