Weekly Urban News Update
January 18, 2019
In This Update: 
Envisioning Smart Cities
Ahmedabad Promenade Sparks Controversy 
In Haiti after the Earthquake, the City of Canaan Remains Largely Ungoverned
Hong Kong Beverage Industry Pledges to Reduce Bottle Waste
Heavy Pollution in the London Underground
In the News and Around the Web
Smart City Strategic Planning

Envisioning Smart Cities
Smart Cities Council, a coalition that promotes smart city initiatives, has drawn up a list of resources for municipalities  that emphasizes holistic city planning. According to the Council, it is only after envisioning the needs and outcomes of smart city planning that municipalities can successfully plan and implement their aims. The first step, says Council Chairman Jesse Berst, is "where you get the holistic look at your city." When cities skip this step or fail to involve enough stakeholders, "they get part way down the road and they (have) left out a neighborhood or...a vulnerable population." Th is approach to smart cities is very much in line with the approach that IHC Global advocates in its Smart City Just City initiative, so we are particularly pleased to share this link. 

Read more here.
Urban Restoration and its Challenges

Ahmedabad Promenade Sparks Controversy 
In the last twenty years, the city of Ahmedabad has converted the Sabarmarti riverside, once home tens of thousands of slum dwellers, into a public space for its residents. The Commissioner of Ahmedabad enthuses: "The worst part of the city, with flowing gutters and illegal constructions, has been converted into an iconic infrastructure project." But environmentalists, housing advocates, and former slumdwellers, remain perturbed.  The Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation spent approximately 16 million USD to build housing for those who would lose their home, but housing rights advocates assert that they managed a transition in a way that resulted in widespread, if temporary, homelessness and economic insecurity upon relocation. According to Beena Jadhav, "Not a single family walked from their houses by the river to the ones given by the government without a phase of being homeless. There were many demolitions without an eviction notice."

Read more here.
Post-Disaster Recovery: Land and Property Rights

In Haiti After the Earthquake, the City of Canaan Remains Largely Ungoverned
The Haitian city of Canaan may be "one of the largest ungoverned spaces in the world," reports U.S. News and World Report. Haiti has not established Canaan as an independent, autonomous city or formalized land and property ownership since its creation in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. Without legally established connections to the state, there is no mechanism by which the government can tax citizens, obligating them to provide roads, water, hospitals and other amenities.   Post-earthquake reconstruction officer Clement Belizaire warns of the severity of the situation and its consequences, noting that without formalized property and land ownership, this "largely-self governed city could become a slum where land barons fill the void."

Read more here

Hong Kong Beverage Industry Pledges to Reduce Bottle Waste
In December, a group of leading producers, bottlers, importers, retailers, recyclers, and NGOs in Hong Kong set an agreement to recover 70%-90% of used bottle packaging by 2025. The Drink Without Waste initiative encourages individual beverage industrialists and their companies to reduce waste by their own volition. Last year alone, 1.7 billion containers were wasted.  The Single-Use Beverage Packaging Working Group affiliated with Drink without Waste also recognizes the need to create a holistic institutional framework to govern the administration, logistics and recycling. According to Drink Without Waste coordination between industrialists from a top-down approach will prevent organizational inefficiencies and higher costs.

Read more  here

Heavy Pollution Inundates the London Underground
A new study by King's College London suggests that one hour of exposure to air pollution on the London Underground can equate to a full day of air pollution in traffic. Health risks posed by dirty air in the metro are partially rooted in its age. Some of the metro lines and stations date back to the nineteenth century. This means that  deep and poorly ventilated tunnels comprise a substantial part of the transit system. Although the report does not discourage travelling by the Underground, researchers concluded that the saturation of particle pollutants indicates there is some health-risk associated with exposure. The warning is especially significant given the claim of a 2015 King's College study that 9,500 Londoners die prematurely every year as the result of long-term exposure to air pollution.

Read more  here
In the News and Around the Web
  • US Government Shutdown Overseas: The US Global Leadership Coalition explores the diplomatic, humanitarian, and development impact of the government shutdown overseas with former Ambassador Karl Hofmann. 
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom Ties Transportation Funds to Affordable Housing: At CityLab, Laura Bliss examines California Governor Gavin Newsom's proposal to tie transportation funding to the success of cities in meeting affordable housing production targets. 
  • Making the Case for Cities to Advocate for Human Rights At Open Global Rights, Annabel Short urges  cities to position themselves as international and local human rights advocates. 
  • Microsoft Invests in Affordable Housing : On Wednesday, Microsoft pledged a $500 million investment to address the affordable housing crisis. 
The new Sabarmati riverside promenade in Ahmedabad, India
(Photo cred: The Guardian)

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