Over the last quarter-century, the number of urban dwellers in South Asia has more than doubled to almost 500 million. In India alone, the number of city dwellers has grown by 122 million. Delhi, Karachi, Kolkata and Dhaka have all joined Mumbai in the league of mega-cities. And yet, urbanization in South Asia has barely begun. With about 30% of its population living in cities, South Asia is the least urbanized in the world. But in the 20 years to come, South Asia will urbanize faster than any other region of the world, with the exception of East Asia. This rapid urbanization can be a powerful engine in accelerating poverty alleviation. But most cities in the region are struggling to cope with even the current level of urbanization. Can South Asian cities support the growing urban economy and population and become centers of shared prosperity, or will they become centers of grief?
In 1967 Montreal hosted the World Expo in a massive 100-year old birthday party for Canada. Festivities were grand and the future seemed bright, but a slow decline had already set in. The Montreal Olympics of 1976 were also not enough to offset the forces of Quebec separatism. From a full third of Canada’s population in 1951 to less than one-quarter in 2011, Quebec’s separatist aspirations have had an economic cost on the Province, especially on the city of Montreal. Montreal is certainly still a great city, but the odds of it ever again becoming Canada’s financial center or largest city are remote, especially after last month’s election victory by the Quebec Sovereigntist party.
- Urban Development
In my post “Should you trust a medical journal?” I think I might have been a bit unfair. Not on The Lancet, which I have since discovered, via comments on David Roodman’s blog, has something of a track record of publishing sensational but not exactly evidence-based social science articles, but rather on Ernst Spaan et al. for challenging the systematicness of their systematic review of health insurance impacts in developing countries. It’s not that I now think Spaan et al. did a wonderful job. It’s just that I think they probably shouldn’t have been singled out in the way they were.
Sometimes, international convention meetings can be heart-breakingly slow-moving. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – one of the three conventions born after Rio in 1992 to drive sustainable development – which has been meeting in Hyderabad in India this week, is no exception. I’ve seen tough negotiators from all corners of the Earth emerge from conference rooms wearing pained expressions.
It’s outside the negotiating rooms – where the major topic of the moment is how to mobilize the financial resources needed to meet the CBD’s ambitious Aichi Targets – where things are a lot brighter.
Interview with Siddhartha Raja, ICT Policy Specialist, on the new strategies and approaches toward managing radio spectrum frequencies.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Hacking against corruption
“30 people, some of them friends, some others strangers, put together their skills in one place for one cause: beating corruption while having fun programming, coding, testing and, when things did not work out, starting all over again. The goal was making one good idea become reality by the end of 24 hours.
In Bogotá, Colombia, hackers and developers were full of energy when they arrived at Academia Wayra at 5PM where the ‘Hacks Against Corruption’ hackathon took place the Saturday before last.
Their commitment was really amazing! They literally did not stop working for 24 hours.” READ MORE
While the U.S Presidential Debate on Tuesday night brought to the fore issues of gender equity in the U.S.
Cũng có ở Tiếng việt
Last week I read about Malala, the 14 year old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head inside her school bus as retaliation for her active engagement in promoting girls’ rights to education in Pakistan. The same day I was helping a friend edit some text for her photo series on very young girls around the world (some as young as 5 years old), who are forced to marry often much older men out of economic necessity and due to cultural practices.
I suppose on that day, it really hit me how lucky I am to be working on gender issues in a country such as Vietnam, which in many ways is considered a front runner among developing countries when it comes to gender equality, and where such atrocities usually would not happen (although underage marriage does still occur in some mountainous areas of the country).
There is however one major challenge to gender equality in Vietnam, where there is reason for growing concern: the skewed sex ratio at birth. In Vietnam, the latest figures from 2009 show that for every 100 girls born, 111 boys are born. When looking at the richest 20% of the population and the rates for couples’ third child, this number increases to 133 boys for 100 girls.
The social and economic challenges of the Middle East and Northern African (MENA) region are all very well-known: the region has the world’s highest general unemployment rate (10 per cent – versus a global average 6 per cent) and the lowest female labor participation (26 per cent in the MENA region versus 52 per cent on average in the rest of the world). But recently, there are signs that this is changing.
Take for example last month’s ‘pitching contest’ by young entrepreneurs at the ArabNet conference in Lebanon, where 40% of the pitches came from women – a much higher percentage than is typical at similar conferences in Europe. And there are testimonies by female entrepreneurs like May Habib, founder of the Dubai-based Arabic translation service Qordoba.com which uses a lot of freelance female workers in the region. She mentioned in a recent interview that the internet has transformed women's opportunities. "More flexible work options, freelance, home-based work, low capital requirements; you can see why starting a company on a small scale is a much more viable thing for women to do than get a corporate job”.
HYDERABAD, India — It feels like a foreign land. Well, it is India, but that's not what I mean. Here I am, an infrastructure guy at the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity's Conference of the Parties. What I am seeing in real time is global architecture at work on finding ways to protect the planet's natural resources in the face of manmade problems and changing climatic conditions. It is important work, and almost every country is laboring to find solutions that fit its unique needs. But you can imagine that common ground is not easily come by.