Weekly Urban News Update
July 21st, 2017
In This Update
Report: Urban Context Analysis Toolkit

A new report has been released from the Stronger Cities Initiative, a consortium made up of the International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council and World Vision International, with support from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). The Stronger Cities Initiative, as part of the larger Global Alliance for Urban Crises, spent the last two years researching, piloting and testing new approaches to working in urban areas, and through their research are now presenting nine tools and guidance notes for governments, organizations and humanitarian practitioners to use when working in urban conflict, displacement and natural hazard settings. The Stronger Cities Initiative asks that, if you find the tools useful, you share your feedback by filling out a survey here.

Read the full report  here.

Over the past two weeks, the United Nations met for the High-level Political Forum, a conference that served as a central platform for countries, agencies and organizations to review and present their progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. A partnership exchange was held during the second week of the Forum, in which government and civil society partnerships promoting SDGs 1 (end poverty in all its forms everywhere), 2 (end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture), 3 (e nsure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages), 5 (achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), 9 (build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation), and 14 (conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development) were presented in the UN General Assembly Hall. IHC Global was privileged to be selected to present alongside so many innovative and inspiring partnerships, as IHC Global president and CEO Judith Hermanson introduced our new initiative with AREA-Uganda, which aims to use the International Property Markets Scorecard to assess and create awareness for women's inclusion in the property market in Uganda.

Read about IHC Global's new project  here.
BNew Book: The Public Wealth of Cities

Dag Detter and Stefan Fölster have released a new book, "The Public Wealth of Cities: How to Unlock Hidden Assets to Boost Growth and Prosperity". In the book, the two Swedish experts on public finance dive into the problems many cities are currently facing, from ineffective social services to crumbling public infrastructure, and describe how new steps to restoring economic vitality and financial stability to cities, combined with a shift towards long-term investments, are already proving successful. The key is unlocking the hidden social, human and economic wealth in cities, treasures of which Detter and  Fölster describe how to find in their book. One of the authors will be holding a discussion about the book and what "public wealth" really means next week, along with Bruce J. Katz, the inaugural Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institution, who focuses on the challenges and opportunities of global urbanization.

When: Monday, July 24, 2017
6:30 PM EDT
Where: Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe
1517 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

To buy the book, click here. Learn more about the event here.

Join the Urban Institute and the National League of Cities as they explore the role of mayors and city leaders, in partnership with key social sector stakeholders, in achieving better health outcomes through safe, affordable housing initiatives. City and community leaders and experts will discuss emerging city-level models, based on a recent convening of mayors and city teams, and share new research from the Urban Institute on unique health and housing interventions at the neighborhood and city level.

When:  Wednesday, July 26, 2017
8:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Where: The National League Of Cities
City-County Conference Room
660 North Capitol Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

Learn more and register for the event here.
Feature IHC Global Urban Feature: Smart Cities
New urbanization plans in India are neither smart nor sustainable

The Issue
Countries around the world are racing to make their cities smarter, more sustainable and more livable, and India is deeply invested in these goals. In 2014, the Indian government pledged a mission to achieve 100 smart cities, unveiling several "smart" plans, including a redevelopment of the Bhendi Bazar, a bustling market in the city of Mumbai. The plan is ambitious and attractive: 3-5 story buildings will be replaced by towers some 40-60 stories tall, in order to increase density while decreasing sprawl, a strategy that has become known as "vertical with a vengeance". However, using an extended urban metabolism model, which measures how the built environment will be impacted, researchers at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom have determined that the proposed project is neither smart nor sustainable. Researchers obtained the project plans and gathered information from both primary and secondary sources, and upon completing both physical and mathematical models, they concluded that while there would be a population increase of only about 25%, there would be severe corresponding environmental effects. Water consumption and waste water production per capita would increase by 155%, while rainwater harvesting will reduce to less than half of what it is due to smaller roof areas. Electricity consumption will increase by 30% in residential areas and a whopping 226% in commercial areas. Due to the increase in electricity consumption, carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 43% per capita, and emissions from transport will increase by 176%, as more people means more cars.
What We See
These conclusions are surprising, as they have arisen from a city development plan that's sole mission is to make the city smarter and more sustainable. As a city that already faces challenges in sanitation, electricity, housing and population density, Mumbai cannot afford a project that gives up more than it gains. As cities fight urban sprawl with plans to go vertical, there will be a greater dependence on centralized electricity, water and sanitation, all of which are already challenges for cities and intimidating roadblocks on the way to sustainability. Vertical urban expansion and high density development have become buzz words in recent years in discussions around sustainable development and increasing urban growth. Many studies tout the benefits or high-density development strategies in terms of reducing a city's ecological footprint and minimizing congestion caused by sprawl. However, this article is a good reminder that all urban projects and policies must be approached critically and evaluated based on their specific context. In many cases, vertical planning may not be the most effective strategy for reducing environmental impacts, nor for increasing inclusion. For instance, in many informal settlements, residents' economic livelihoods depend upon small shops and markets that they run out of their home fronts, and high-density, vertical slum upgrading projects can have negative consequences for the social and economic wellbeing of communities, as has been seen through the Kibera Soweto-East slum upgrading project in Nairobi. This is not to say that vertical growth strategies are never the right choice-however, it is imperative that urban planners, local governments, and researchers work together at the beginning of project plans to ensure that a project's objectives are indeed reachable. Dialogue between all sectors of society and tools like the urban metabolism model can bring urban planners and local governments closer and closer to creating cities that are sustainable, cost-effective, and inclusive.

Read the full article  here and the full report here .

To learn more about IHC Global's Key Policy Topics, which are both barriers and gateways to better, more equitable urban development, click here
In the news and around the web
  • Seoul, South Korea, is in the midst of an identity crisis.
  • Next City makes the case for why rising police budgets are not making cities safer.
  • More refugees are living in urban areas than ever before. In an exclusive interview, one refugee explains what they need in an urban setting.
  • IHC weighs in on the lessons eco-city projects in China can learn from their predecessors.

National Geographic's travel photographer of the year competition is now open, and features many breathtaking snapshots of cities, including this  picture of street shoppers going about their daily lives during Ramadan in Commercial Street, Bangalore.
     Source: Guardian Cities
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Help us gain a better understanding of urban safety; take our survey  here!
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