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Social Development

How can we help cities provide the building blocks for future growth?

Sameh Wahba's picture
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Photo: Ngoc Tran / Shutterstock

Basic infrastructure makes all the difference in the lives of people. Sometimes a road is all it takes…

Access to clean drinking water and sanitation can improve children’s health, reduce waterborne disease, and lower the risk of stunting.

Street lighting can improve the safety of a community, reduce gender-based violence, and add productive hours for shops and economic activities, which can help people escape poverty.

A paved road can lead to a world of possibilities for small business owners, increasing access to additional markets and suppliers, as well as opportunities to grow their businesses.

The urban infrastructure finance gap

Cities already account for approximately 70-80 percent of the world’s economic growth, and this will only increase as cities continue to grow. In the next 35 years, the population in cities is estimated to expand by an additional 2.5 billion people, almost double the population of China. As a vital component for connectivity, public health, social welfare, and economic development, infrastructure in all its forms – basic, social, and economic – is critical for the anticipated urban growth.

Globally, the annual investment required to cover the gap for resilient infrastructure is estimated at $4.5-$5.4 trillion. Cities will need partners to help them provide these building blocks for the future. The public sector cannot address these crucial needs alone, and overall official development assistance barely totals three percent of this amount. Cities should begin looking toward innovative financing options and to the private sector.

Urban expansion and resettlement can be a win-win for cities and communities: Case studies from five countries

Maninder Gill's picture
World Bank interview on urban expansion and resettlement

Our planet is undergoing a process of rapid urbanization, and the next few decades will see unprecedented growth in urban areas, including in urban infrastructure. Most of the growth will take place in low-and middle-income countries. The expansion and development of urban areas require the acquisition of land, which often requires physical relocation of people who own or occupy that land.

How can urban resettlement become a development opportunity for those affected by the process of urban development?

A World Bank report titled Urban Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement: Linking Innovation and Local Benefits offers useful examples:

What it takes to help internally displaced persons

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture

A total of 40 million people are estimated to be displaced within their countries as a result of conflict and violence.
 
Of the world’s conflict-induced internally displaced persons (IDPs), 76% are concentrated in just ten countries. Many of the countries have struggled with high levels of displacement for decades.
 
On World Refugee Day, following the recent release of the annual Global Report on Internal Displacement 2018 by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), IDMC Director Alexandra Bilak speaks with Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG), the World Bank’s Senior Director of the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, about the report and key areas of engagement on the issue of IDPs.

A key message of the report is that failure to address long-term displacement has the potential to undermine the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and progress on other international agreements. To make genuine progress at the national, regional and international levels, there needs to be constructive and open dialogue on internal displacement. This must be led by countries impacted by the issue, with the support of international partners, and in line with their national priorities and realities, according to the report.  
 
While continuing to monitor and assess internal displacement and sudden-onset disasters, IDMC will also focus in the coming years on building a more comprehensive understanding of drought-related displacement and internal displacement in cities, as well as expanding research into the economic costs of internal displacement. Watch the video to learn more.
 

The harsh realities – and hopeful solutions – of internal displacement

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture

Among the 68.5 million displaced people around the world, almost two-thirds of them – about 40 million people – are internally displaced persons (IDPs) within their own countries, according to the United Nations.

While 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the ​Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, it is not a moment to celebrate since we are facing enormous challenges to address internal displacement. However, it is an important opportunity to galvanize international communities for strategic action aimed at protecting IDPs and addressing the development challenges.
 
On World Refugee Day, Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, speaks with Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG), Senior Director of the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, on internal displacement.
 
In the interview, Ms. Jimenez-Damary outlines the important actions necessary for progress on the issue, including:
  • ensuring coherence between diplomatic, humanitarian, protection, and development actions, and
  • building capacity and awareness within governments so that they can better manage the challenges of internal displacement.

Ms. Jimenez-Damary emphasizes the need to allow the participation of IDPs “in order to make any solutions effective and sustainable.” Watch the video to learn more.
 
In April 2018, the Special Rapporteur, together with governments and humanitarian and development partners, including the World Bank, launched the GP20 Plan of Action for Advancing Prevention, Protection and Solutions for IDPs (2018-2020). For more information, click here.

Global migration and urban expansion: an interview with Ambassador William L. Swing

Kristyn Schrader-King's picture


Migration is one of the major defining factors of our time.

Today, one billion people – one out of seven people in the world – are migrants, including over 250 million people living outside their home country and an estimated 750 million domestic migrants.


According to a new World Bank report, “Moving for Prosperity: Global Migration and Labor Markets,” some of the biggest gains in global welfare and economic development come from the movement of people between countries.

However, migration is often an overlooked piece of the globalization mosaic. Rapid urbanization adds to the complex picture of migration – and poses a challenge to the host communities and migrants alike.

What can be done to improve governance of global migration and encourage actions on urban expansion?

As part of our Spring Meetings 2018 Interview Series, we spoke with Ambassador William L. Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Watch the interview to learn more.

After disasters hit, how countries and communities can build back better

Sameh Wahba's picture

Disaster losses disproportionately affect poor people, according to the 2017 “Unbreakable” report. The Caribbean Hurricane season of 2017 was a tragic illustration of this.

Not one, but two Category 5 hurricanes wreaked destruction on numerous small islands, causing severe damages on islands like Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Martin. The human cost of these disasters was immense, and the impact of this devastation was felt most strongly by poorer communities in the path of the storms.
 
And yet, amidst the destruction, it is essential to look forward and to build back better.
 
A new report, “Building Back Better: Achieving Resilience through Strong, Faster, and More Inclusive Post-Disaster Reconstruction,” explores how countries can strengthen their resilience to natural shocks through a better reconstruction process. It shows that reconstruction needs to be: 

Are cities ready for their increasingly aging populations?

Ashna Mathema's picture

Virtually everywhere, the share of “older persons,” aged 60 years or over, is increasing. The number of older people globally is projected to grow from 901 million in 2015 to 1.4 billion in 2030 to 2.1 billion in 2050. In 2015, one in eight people worldwide was 60 or older; in 2030, this number will be one in six people, and by 2050, one in five people.

Aging – and by the same token, aging in cities – is an outcome of increasing longevity and declining birthrates, and is currently more prevalent in wealthier economies. However, between 2015 and 2030, the rate of growth of elderly populations is expected to be highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by Asia and Africa. Not only is this rate likely to exceed that of the developed countries in the past, but it is also likely to occur at much lower levels of national income, and weaker systems of social protection (pensions, social security, etc.)


This demographic shift will have far-reaching social and economic consequences. Societies will not just be older, they will be more active for longer periods of their lives compared to previous generations, and they will function – and need to be understood – differently. Accordingly, it is important to recognize that aging is not a “problem” per se, but that it can become a challenge if the social, physical, economic, and policy environment is not adapted to demographic change. Aging is also changing the way money is spent and, as such, presents a massive opportunity for companies to tap into the “longevity economy” and to harness new innovations and disruptive technologies to increase the autonomy of older people.

From May 21-25, 2018, representatives from 15 cities in 12 countries visited Japan for a Technical Deep Dive on Aging Cities to learn about the fundamental paradigm shifts necessary to ensure that their cities offer a vibrant, productive, and livable environment for all residents, including the elderly.  In this video, Anna Wellenstein (Director, Strategy and Operations), Maitreyi Das (Practice Manager / Global Lead, Social Inclusion) and Phil Karp (Lead Knowledge Management Specialist) discuss the growing importance for cities and countries to understand, plan for, and adapt to the dramatic – but predictable – demographic shift that is occurring globally.

Building safer, more inclusive, and more resilient cities

Ellen Hamilton's picture

Cities are where most people live and most economic activity takes place. Cities bring opportunities, but not equally for all residents. A lack of access, rights, and opportunities for people within cities undermines the positive role cities can play. 


When people cannot find a decent and safe place to live, or are discriminated against because of their race, religion or where they live, or lack the skills, education and transportation needed to find a job to support themselves, something needs to change.

To make cities safer, more inclusive, and more resilient to a range of shocks and stresses, mayors, planners, and other city leaders should support integrated approaches promoting social, economic, and spatial inclusion. City leaders need to carry out this work in close partnership with the communities themselves.

From April 23–27, 2018, representatives from 16 cities in 13 countries visited Japan for a Technical Deep Dive on Safe, Inclusive, and Resilient Cities to learn from one another about improving urban safety, inclusion and resilience. In this video, Jefferson Koije (Mayor of Monrovia, Liberia), Ellen Hamilton (World Bank Lead Urban Specialist), and Phil Karp (World Bank Lead Knowledge Management Officer) discuss how cities can address these crucial aspects of urban resilience. Watch the video to learn more.

Spatially awhere: Bridging the gap between leading and lagging regions

Sameh Wahba's picture


As the world urbanizes rapidly, international experience has shown that economic activities concentrate in a relatively small number of places – it is estimated that only 1.5% of the world’s land is home to about half of global production.

Such economic concentration is a built-in feature of human settlement development and a key driver of growth. However, while some countries have succeeded in spreading economic benefits to most of their citizens, many other countries have not.

Especially outside the economic centers that concentrate production, there are “lagging areas” with persistent disparities in living standards and a lack of access to basic services and economic opportunities.

Today, over two billion people live in such lagging areas. Over one billion people live in underserved slums with many disparities from the rest of the city in terms of access to infrastructure and services, tenure security, and vulnerability to disaster risk. A further one billion people live in underdeveloped areas with few job opportunities and public services.

How can countries address the division between the leading and lagging regions?

As discussed at the Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we at the World Bank Group are taking an integrated territorial approach through a “spatially awhere” lens to tackle the land, social, and economic challenges altogether.

[Download: World Bank publications on urban development]

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