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Urban Development

Model Disaster Preparedness

News story by Susana Seijas, Mexico City

Recalling its monstrous 1985 earthquake, Mexico City trains 10,000 of its civil servants in disaster recovery techniques.

MEXICO CITY – Japan’s cataclysmic March 11 earthquake and tsunami have evoked painful memories of Mexico City’s 1985 quake and made many here reflect on how well prepared the city is for a similar disaster.

earthquake damage“You can never really be ready for a disaster like the 1985 earthquake, or a catastrophe of that magnitude,” says Carlos Morales Cienfuegos, a search and rescue volunteer who pulled people from Mexico City’s crumbled buildings.

Improving Slums: Stories from Sao Paulo

Written by Fernando Serpone Bueno and Veridiana Sedeh, São Paulo

SÃO PAULO – Seventh largest among the world's metropolises and the linchpin of Brazil's booming economy, São Paulo presents a globally relevant case study of stepped-up efforts — but continued deep challenges — if cities are to correct the deep poverty and environmental perils of massive slum settlements.

Favela in BrazilClose to a third of São Paulo's 11 million people — in a metropolitan region of almost 20 million — live in slum-like conditions. There are some 1,600 favelas (private or public lands that began as squatter settlements), 1,100 "irregular" land subdivisions (developed without legally recognized land titles), and 1,900 cortiços (tenement houses, usually overcrowded and in precarious state of repair).

Climate Change and the World’s Cities: A Week To Remember

Neal Peirce's picture

SAO PAULO, June 4, 2011 -- For the cities of the world, there’s rarely if ever been such a momentous single week.  Faced with the potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change, the C40 organization of world’s large cities met in this Brazilian megacity to announce a set of landmark agreements. All the accords, said New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, current C40 chairman and the prime driver of its new initiatives, will be designed to undergird their struggle against rising seas and disruptive weather patterns -- in a world in which cities are responsible, directly or indirectly, for up to 80 percent of global climate emissions.

WB C40 agreement“The leaders of C40 Cities - the world’s megacities - hold the future in their hands,” Bloomberg asserted.

As a first step, the three dozen C40 mayors confirmed a full merger with the Clinton Climate Initiative, assuring added funding for a centralized, high-grade professional staff as well as full-bore support from former President Bill Clinton, who flew to São Paulo to seal and celebrate the agreement. Staff operations are global, with current bases in London and New York.

The Evolution of Great World Cities: Insights for Developing World Cities

Chris Kennedy's picture

Evolution of Great World Cities Book CoverThis blog is written in response to a generous and humbling offer by the urban anchor at the World Bank to present my book on the Evolution of Great World Cities (Kennedy, 2011). Having provided occasional assistance to the Bank over the past few years, I realized how big a challenge this may be. The Bank has brainpower akin to an Ivy League university, and is a large organization with so many endeavours that are hard for me to keep abreast of. Nonetheless, while tackling enormously complex development challenges, the clear objective of the Bank is to help with the elimination of poverty. Given that my book is primarily about stinking rich cities, there’s a chance that I could completely miss my audience! There again, the rapid rate of urbanization in the developing world provides such a huge opportunity to bring millions out of poverty, if planned well - and many cities in the developing world no doubt aspire to be great world cities.

Unlocking the Kinshasa-Brazzaville Bottleneck

Gözde Isik's picture

Kinshasa-Brazzaville is predicted to become Africa’s largest, and the world’s 11th largest, city by 2025.

With an international border running right through it, it is the obvious focal point for cross-border exchanges between the two Congos. But despite this, formal trade and passenger traffic between the two cities is pitifully small.

Why do Kenyans want to live in cities?

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

Every day, Kenya’s capital Nairobi is facing endless traffic jams. Our colleagues spend hours every day to commute to and from work. One Kenyan colleague escapes traffic by leaving home at 4.30am, others by leaving the office as late as 9pm. Given this congestion, escalating costs of living and high crime, why are Kenyans moving into cities more rapidly than ever – more 250,000 every year?

A tale of three men and 40 cities

Dan Hoornweg's picture

Driving through Sao Paulo yesterday, I was struck by the power of cities. While cities are part of the climate change problem, they need to be part of the solution too. They are bigger and more energized than any individual or organization. Cities push and cajole; and cities act. Cities are where it all comes together.

Even more so when former President Bill Clinton, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined forces in Sao Paulo. The accomplished gentlemen born less than a dozen years and 1,500 miles apart spoke and fielded questions with a worldly and gracious informality. The pleasant exchanges sat in contrast to the underlying gravity of their mission. Together they have determined to access their considerable resources to tackle one of the biggest challenges they’ve ever faced: climate change.

The location for the partnership launch is telling. With Mayor Kassab of Sao Paulo hosting this week’s C40 Large Cities Summit everyone reinforced the need for cities to be in this fight. C40 is a group of mayors of major cities of the world responsible for 12% of global emissions. It is not hard to imagine that the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost in our cities.

On behalf of the World Bank, President Zoellick and Mayor Bloomberg, representing the world’s most influential cities as Chair of C40, signed a Partnership MOU outlining how the two organizations will work more closely together and provide focused support to cities. The MOU outlines common tools and metrics, city- tailored finance, and enhanced city-to-city learning.

A tale of three men and 40 cities

Dan Hoornweg's picture

WB and C40 Climate PartnershipDriving through Sao Paulo yesterday, I was struck by the power of cities. While cities are part of the climate change problem, they need to be part of the solution too. They are bigger and more energized than any individual or organization. Cities push and cajole; and cities act. Cities are where it all comes together. 

Even more so when former President Bill Clinton, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined forces in Sao Paulo. The accomplished gentlemen born less than a dozen years and 1,500 miles apart spoke and fielded questions with a worldly and gracious informality. The pleasant exchanges sat in contrast to the underlying gravity of their mission. Together they have determined to access their considerable resources to tackle one of the biggest challenges they’ve ever faced: climate change.

A New Breed of Private Sector: Entrepreneurs and Urban Water

Julia Bucknall's picture

“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” Lao Tzu

In the film Quantum of Solace, James Bond battles a corrupt environmentalist to prevent a company from taking over Bolivia’s water supply. The company planned to enrich itself by creating a monopoly and charging excessive rates for water. Fortunately, Bond foils the plot, and the people of Bolivia do not lose affordable access to their water resources.

Training the Burkinabe in Building Timber-Free Housing Alternatives

Karen Vega's picture

The WB team were welcomed to Boromo (a province of Bales located two hours from Ouagadogou) by a team from Association La Voute Nubienne; a French non-governmental organization(NGO) with field offices in Burkina Faso. Their team is composed of 11 Burkinabes and a French team member, who trains masons to construct timber-free houses using the Nubian Vault technique.

A Nubian Vault house is made from locally available materials and is designed to use no wood. Because the ceiling is raised into a vault it keeps the living space significantly cooler than a typical box shaped house with a tin roof. This design originated from upper-Egypt and is a good example of south-south technology transfer.

The project, funded by the Development Marketplace, is a pilot that will test out a strategy to identify local champions and potential clients for the Nubian Vault houses.


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