As we approach the 9th World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur next week, one of the essential challenges in implementing the New Urban Agenda that governments are struggling with is the provision at scale of high quality affordable housing, a key part of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 of building sustainable cities and communities.
When I worked on affordable housing in Latin America, one consistent piece of advice we would give our clients was that it is not a good idea for governments to build and provide housing themselves. Instead, in the words of the famous (and sadly late) World Bank economist Steve Mayo, we should enable housing markets to work. Our clients would always respond by saying, “But what about Singapore?” And we would say the Singapore case is too sui generis and non-replicable.
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Now, having lived in the beautiful red-dot city state for two and half years, and
Singapore’s governing philosophy has famously been described as “think ahead, think again and think across.” Nowhere is this more apparent than how the founding fathers designed the national housing program, and how it has adapted and evolved over the years, responding to changed circumstances and needs.
It is hard to believe today but in 1947 the British Housing Committee reported that 72% of a total population of 938,000 of Singapore was living within the 80 square kilometers that made up the central city area. When Singapore attained self-government in 1959, only 9% of Singaporeans resided in public housing. Today, 80% of Singaporeans live a government built apartment. There are about one million Housing and Development Board (HDB) apartments, largely clustered in 23 self-contained new towns that extend around the city’s coastal core.
At the risk of over-simplification, there seem to be four essential ingredients to this astonishing success story:
The composition of wealth fundamentally changes with economic development. Natural capital—energy, minerals, land and forests—is the largest component of wealth in low-income countries. Its value goes up, but its share of total wealth decreases as economies develop. By contrast, the share of human capital, estimated as the present value of future incomes for the labor force, increases as economies develop. Overall, human capital accounts for two-thirds of the wealth of nations. Read more in The Changing Wealth of Nations
Global wealth grew by 66% between 1995 and 2014 to a total of over 1,140 Trillion dollars. The share of the world’s wealth held by middle-income countries is growing — it increased from 19% to 28% between 1995 and 2014, while the share of high-income OECD countries fell from 75% to 65%. Read more in The Changing Wealth of Nations
Cities across Nepal—and in the developing world—produce more waste than ever before, due to a spike in population and a surge in new economic activity and urbanization. Properly disposing and managing solid waste has thus become urgent for city municipalities.
As a result, landscapes and public spaces in Nepal’s urban centers are deteriorating. Less than half of the 700,000 tons of waste generated in Nepal’s cities each year is collected. Most waste is dumped without any regulation or oversight and several municipalities do not have a designated disposal site, leading to haphazard disposal of waste—often next to a river—further aggrevating the problem.
With urbanization rising, the costs of inaction are piling up and compromising people’s health and the environment. In most cases, the poor suffer the most from the resulting negative economic, environmental, and human health impacts.
Regional growth tumbled last year, led by oil exporters
Growth in the Middle East and North Africa is estimated to have slowed sharply to 1.8 percent in 2017 from 5 percent the year before, driven by decline in growth among oil exporters. Growth declined among Gulf Cooperation Council and non-GCC oil exporters, with oil production cuts and continued geopolitical tensions contributing to the fall-off.
This issue is one we should be thinking about more and more often. As populations continue to grow, there needs to be new innovations to increase sustainable food production, without draining the earth. With factors such as climate change impacting water supplies and security, business-as-usual just won’t cut it.
For this reason, on January 29th, 2018, the Water for Food International Forum Innovation Fair: Innovate to Irrigate, gathered together 19 organizations who are leading the way in this challenge, through creative technologies that support farmer-led irrigation practices.
Photo: BrilliantEye | iStock
As the only global facility specifically dedicated to reinforcing the legal, institutional and policy underpinnings of private sector participation in infrastructure—which we call the critical upstream—we at the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) realize we have a key responsibility to developing countries.
That responsibility is to help client governments unlock their potential by de-risking investments and creating an enabling environment for private sector participation, itself a condition to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and climate-smart objectives. As such, PPIAF fits neatly into the new Maximizing Financing for Development (MFD) approach to crowd in the private sector, an initiative launched by the World Bank Group and other multilateral development banks last year.
It is these countries plagued by near-constant political and economic instability that are often the ones most in need of private investment. Yet they are also the places few private investors are willing to go. The risks seem to outweigh the rewards.