Syndicate content

urbanization

Boys and their Toys – Building Better Cities

Dan Hoornweg's picture

Niagra Falls, North America

Caution – this blog is almost as long as the soon-to-be commissioned Niagara Tunnel.

Often I can hide it – posing maybe as an economist, risk manager, a finance-guy, public-policy wonk; I’ve even once been complimented as an urban planner. But every now and then I revert to form and it slips out that I’m an engineer. This week was a classic – a ‘boy and his toys,’ my wife warned.

I went to Niagara Falls not to see the falls, or visit the casino, but to tour Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Niagara Tunnel and Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Station! Well worth a ‘!’ as getting to visit these two big civil engineering works was a bit like Christmas coming early; and they provide important lessons.

Our Cities Will Define Our Future

Dan Hoornweg's picture

After the post was vacant for more than a year, Jennifer Keesmaat started this month as the Chief Planner for the City of Toronto. One of the first things she did was write an excellent article in the local newspaper arguing ‘our cities will define our future’. She makes the case for Toronto – but the same argument can be made globally and even more strongly for cities like Jakarta, Lagos, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Nanjing and Kunming. We are truly in the thick of the Urban Century; we are building cities at a faster rate than ever before, and increasingly these cities are defining our and our children’s future.

Answers to more of your questions on rapidly growing cities

Dean Cira's picture

Cũng có ở Tiếng việt

Dean Cira

 (Urban specialist Dean Cira recently answered in a video 5 questions on rapidly growing cities that had been submitted to us by internet users. This post addresses a few additional questions).

 Manh Ha from Vietnam asked:  Urban planning currently focuses too much on having new buildings, which increases the population and construction density and reduces living environment in size. What planning model do you think Vietnam should follow?

 

There is a popular belief among planners and among Vietnamese generally that densities of the major urban centers of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City need to be reduced to improve the quality of life.  But if we look at the density of Hanoi, we actually see that by Asian standards, it is not particularly dense.

Your questions answered: living in rapidly growing cities

Huong Lan Vu's picture

 Last week I asked you to send us your questions about the challenges faced by rapidly urbanizing countries. Please see below my video with urban specialist Dean Cira, where he addresses 5 of the many questions received. Dean will follow up soon with a blog post tackling some of your other questions and comments. Thanks!

Wanted: Your questions on challenges and benefits of living in the city

Huong Lan Vu's picture
Dean Cira will answer some of your questions in a video

Urbanization itself cannot guarantee economic growth, but it does appear to be an inevitable process on the way to development: no country has achieved high income status without first urbanizing, and nearly all countries become at least 50% urbanized before fully reaching middle income status.

The trick is in how to manage this process in a way that plays up the benefits and minimizes the challenges it brings.

When I was a little child, we lived in a 30m2 house in the suburbs of Hanoi, Vietnam, with intermittent supplies of power and clean water. But I enjoyed playing on the quiet and clean street in front of my house. Twenty years later, my whole neighborhood has been nicely renovated; there’s enough electricity to run all appliances in my house, including two air conditioners. But I get stuck in traffic every day on my way to work, and the smog is so thick I can hardly breathe, even with a mask on my face.

Urbanization has arrived to my hometown with both advantages and challenges. However, noises, heavy traffic, and air and water pollution are not unique to Hanoi. They can be observed in many cities in emerging countries all over the world (such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, or Nigeria). The Vietnam Urbanization Review notes that if these challenges are well managed, they will allow cities like Hanoi to retain its unique charm and livability while enjoying the benefits that urbanization brings.   

Do you have any questions on how to ease traffic congestion? Or dealing with high housing prices in your city? Do you want to share your own experiences? What are your concerns when moving in or out of a city?

Our urban expert, Dean Cira, is here to answer your questions. 

Send your question now using the comment function below to ask him and he’ll address on video five of all the questions received. We’ll take questions until the end of Wednesday, June 20. You can also join the conversation on Twitter by sending your questions to @worldbankasia.

Urban population (% of total)

 

Data from World Bank

Where the Cloud Forest Meets the City

Julianne Baker Gallegos's picture

Puntarenas, Cosa Rica

Standing in the middle of the cloud forest in my home country of Costa Rica as a child I made the choice to dedicate my life to protecting the environment. Back then, the first image that came to mind when thinking about biodiversity conservation was definitely not that of a flourishing city. Fast forward 20 years and you’ll find the same environmentalist sitting in front of a computer in an office working on the challenges cities face as a result of climate change. What is a biologist doing working on cities? Well, I’m basically doing what I promised myself to do as a child… just from a different angle and in an apparently less exotic setting.

Top Ten New Urban Jobs

Dan Hoornweg's picture

With about 185,000 people a day moving into cities – some 2 billion more people by 2035 – cities are where the action is and jobs are available. Following is a top ten urban report for tomorrow’s job seekers.

1.   Construction Workers. Someone’s got to build all those new cities with their infrastructure, buildings, transportation systems, waste management, and power supply. And then there’s the retrofitting of existing cities. How are we going to pay for all this construction? Over the next 30 years the world will see an unprecedented increase in wealth as the land being taken over by cities grows in value. Let’s just hope we build ‘sustainable cities’ or the true costs will far outweigh the benefits.

2. Civil Engineers and City Planners.    Used to be you could graduate as a civil engineer and start building roads, buildings, railways, ports and wastewater treatment facilities. The ‘civil’ part just distinguished it from military engineering, the world’s first engineers. Now the ‘civil’ in civil engineering can just as easily refer to civility and civilization. Today, civil engineers, the builders of cities, need to help develop and nurture a social contract that is always stronger than concrete and steel. Also, an encouraging trend in many countries – more than half of the freshmen civil and environmental engineering students are female.

Women in the City: Will the world’s female mayors please stand up?

Artessa Saldivar-Sali's picture

After Newsweek’s third annual Women in the World summit two weeks ago, I started to wonder about where women stand in the massive wave of urbanization our world is facing. The UN study, The World’s Women 2010, tells us:

  • Only 14 women in the world were either Head of State or Head of Government in 2010.
  • In only 23 countries do women comprise over 30 percent in the lower house of their national parliament.
  • On average, only 1 in 6 cabinet ministers in the world is a woman.
  • Only 13 of the 500 largest corporations in the world have a female Chief Executive Officer.

But what about female Mayors? As the most visible face of local politics and the closest link to their constituents, do women occupy more positions in the city leadership? The global breakdown is below:

Graphic: Share of women among mayors

But why, one may ask, is the leadership of women particularly relevant to sustainable cities? The National Democratic Institute gives a number of reasons:

A Tale of Too Many Cities: Happy Birthday Charles Dickens

Dan Hoornweg's picture

Charles DickensThis year marks the 200th birthday for Charles Dickens who is likely the best-known social commentator who documented the more troublesome aspects of the Industrial Revolution and the start of the world’s headlong rush to urbanize. Dickens’ writings give a ringside seat to the turmoil London, and Paris, faced over two hundred years ago. That Dickens’ vantage point was London only made sense; it had just surpassed Beijing as the world’s largest city, and arguably is the birthplace of capitalism and industrialization.

The big question now is, where in the world would today’s most important social commentator choose to live? We obviously know it would be a big city as cities are the most powerful determinants of our futures. But what city best captures today’s and tomorrow’s social milieu?


Pages