Video Title
World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments at Habitat III

On 16th October 2016, on the eve of Habitat III over a thousand mayors and locally elected leaders gathered for the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments.

Source: Youtube

HP Megatrends

Global socio-economic, demographic and technological forces which HP calls Megatrends will have a sustained and transformative impact on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and our personal lives in unimaginable ways in the years to come. 

In the next 15 years we will experience more change than in all of history to date. Undertsanding Megatrends can help guide how we maneuver this great wave of change, and inform our technology choices of the future, what innovations will be required, and what new business models will be needed.


This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.

Leading Slum Dwellers around the World to Improve Their Cities

In 2008—for the first time in history—more people were living in urban than in rural areas. Today, more than one billion people live in slums. Founded by a collective of slum dwellers and concerned professionals headed by Jockin Arputham, a community organizer in India, Slum Dwellers International works to have slums recognized as vibrant, resourceful, and dignified communities. SDI organizes slum dwellers to take control of their futures; improve their living conditions; and gain recognition as equal partners with governments and international organizations in the creation of inclusive cities. With programs in nearly 500 cities, including more than 15,000 slum dweller-managed savings groups reaching one million people; 20 agreements with national governments; and nearly 130,000 families who have secured land rights, SDI has been a driving force for change for slum dwellers around the world.


The future of cities

This is a conversation starter first, a video second. I’d love to hear your thoughts on cities, the future, and this project. 

I shared some words, a reading list and featured interviewees here:

* Note that the first shot in the movie a "Garbage Truck in Taipei" is actually in Changhua City, also in Taiwan. Thank you Taiwanese friends for pointing this out! 

Thank you to everybody who contributed! Trust me when I say that even if I didn’t get your footage in the cut, we can feel it in the finished product. I want to keep telling urban stories and building on these ideas - hope you do too. Knowledge is Power.


This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.

What the New Urban Agenda tells us about building inclusive cities

Over a billion people—about 15% of the world’s population—have disabilities. Almost 80% of them live in the developing world, which is undergoing rapid urbanization.

While urbanization brings people closer to new economic and sociocultural opportunities, persons with disabilities still face a range of constraints in many cities, such as inaccessible buildings and public spaces, limited transportation options, inaccessible housing, and barriers in using technology-enabled virtual environments.

These urban constraints have a significant impact on those living with disabilities in terms of mobility, ability to engage in education and skills development, employability and income generation, and larger social and political participation.

Therefore, urban development must acknowledge and plan for the needs of a diverse population which includes persons with disabilities. And there is no better time than now to make that happen. 

The New Urban Agenda for inclusive, livable cities

The “New Urban Agenda” adopted at the Habitat III conference this October offers an unprecedented opportunityfor countries to work toward universal access to city spaces and infrastructure for persons with disabilities and older persons. This builds on the moral and legal imperative for accessibility through the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities—which is celebrating its 10th anniversary—as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Targets under Goal 11 specifically reference affordable housing, accessible transport systems, disaster resilient infrastructure, and universal access to green and public spaces.

Entry points for inclusive urban growth

How can we build inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities without leaving behind persons with disabilities? The New Urban Agenda and the SDGs point out several actions to start with:

  • Improving building codes and regulations: Designing universally accessible buildings has proven to be significantly more cost efficientthan retrofitting ones that are not. That’s why urban design and planning should incorporate accessibility into building codes and standards, and universal design and accessibility should be factored into the design phase of any urban development project. In addition, social assessments—including risk analysis, social impacts, and social sustainability—also need to include current gaps and barriers for persons with disabilities across sectors. Launched by GFDRR, the Building Regulation for Resilience initiative seeks to create an enabling environment for accessibility measures, and promotes the idea that building codes and standards must be developed and updated through inclusive, transparent, participatory, and resource efficient. 

  • Building the capacity of policymakers, civil society, and other stakeholders: Capacity development—including providing knowledge and tools—is an important part of implementing the New Urban Agenda. In terms of accessibility, capacity building must target (i) local and national policymakers on understanding and implementing disability-inclusive development, and (ii) persons with disabilities, Disabled Persons’ Organizations (DPOs), and civil society so that they can become effective and informed partners in engaging in consultations with policymakers. Moreover, inclusive development recognizes diversity and aims at involving everybody into the development process. It is crucial to raise awareness and build capacity of architects, designers, engineers, and product developers by integrating universal design and accessibility into degree, diploma, and certification programs.

  • Using information and communication technology (ICT) as an enabler: Technology innovations and ICT-enabled services are playing an instrumental role in shaping urban spaces and urban living. “Smart cities” use digital technologies to deliver improved and efficient public services, use interconnected mobile devices for improved information gathering, and improve relationships between governments and their citizens through new mechanisms for feedback, grievances, and interactions. Accessible digital technologies radically transform how persons with disabilities can communicate and manage information. Adopting accessibility design standards into digital technologies can break barriers to socioeconomic participation, financial inclusion, access to e-governance, disaster management services, civic participation, and community engagement for persons with disabilities. 

  • Respecting cultural diversity and promoting participatory design: Sustainable, universal urban design is local-environment specific, and should be responsive to cultural norms and sensitivities. Local community users—including the disabled and older community members—should be involved in consultations, planning, inspections, and monitoring. Developing sensitivity for the need and benefits of inclusion and generating a sense of ownership on inclusive design will also promote a culture of compliance rather than sole reliance on enforcement mechanisms. While top-down policy reforms, codes, and regulations are essential, cultivating bottom-up participatory processes to realize accessible urban development is key to converting policy into real change.


Why cities should plant more trees

Over 3 million people die annually from air pollution. Planting trees can help lower that number. Trees help improve public health by cleaning and cooling the air around them. As the threat of climate change steadily increases, planting trees is a fairly simple way city leaders can help stem the negative consequences of rising temperatures and increasing population density.


The perfect storm for the Automotive Industry

The global trends of urbanization, climate change and digitalization are challenging the automotive industry. Atos believes that this will lead to a customer service centric business model. Mobility in this new world will be shared and autonomous.


Don Chen on inequality and urbanization

By 2050, about 70 percent of the world’s people will live in cities. Don Chen, who directs the foundation’s work in Equitable Development, sees this as a tremendous opportunity. “Societies function better when everyone is contributing,” he explains.


China’s urbanization brings progress and challenges

Shanghai which is China’s economic powerhouse. The city’s wealth is built on the labor of migrant workers.

China’s fast economic growth has sped up urbanization. And rural migrants have flowed to big cities like Shanghai, for jobs and a chance to make it big. This economic upheaval also comes at a human cost.

For our special series “What is China,” CGTN’s reporters Han Bin and Nathan King find out in different directions.

Ma Yunqi lives on the edge of the city, and on the edge of poverty. He rents this room with his wife, who’s also a migrant worker.

Leaving home is a choice of economic necessity. And the emotional cost is tremendous.

Ma Yunqi’s family is in a village in Anhui Province, more than 10 hours away by bus. His 7 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son, live with their grandparents.

It’s a common situation for “left behind children” and the elderly in rural China. Living conditions are poor, as the countryside has few resources.

Migrant workers like Ma Yunqi can’t see a brighter future ahead. But they are grateful to be able to support loved ones back home.

China’s cities have been undergoing a rapid economic and social evolution, at a speed and on a scale which are unprecedented. Migrant workers have acted as both a cause and effect of the urbanization.

For some the Chinese dream has already been achieved, and they own homes in Beijing and invest globally and perhaps one of the ultimate status symbols buying property abroad-we went to one of the big destinations of Chinese capital in the U.S.-Seattle and saw first-hand how affluent Chinese can afford luxury on the other side of the Pacific.

Chinese buyers looking at Seattle real estate will likely already know Mei Yang – the Nanjing native knows what Chinese buyers are looking for -even down to an auspicious price tag.

Driving around the affluent Seattle suburbs of Bellevue and Medina, Mei said good schools, the presence of tech giants like Amazon, and soon a branch of Tsinghua University, makes it a hot market for Chinese looking to invest.

On a wooded hilltop we meet Chloe Hou from Henan Province – a very young Chinese entrepreneur- she’s turning this hilltop into a housing development aimed at young families flocking to this area.

Mei Yang said some Seattle residents are concerned that Chinese investment is pushing up prices – making homes too expensive. But many U.S. sellers in the Seattle area are knocking on her door, knowing that she has good connections to wealthy Chinese buyers.

Chinese real estate investment in the US gets a lot of headlines-what doesn’t is the number of jobs it helps to create in construction retail the legal and financial sector not to mention the wealth it creates for all the sellers to Chinese citizens.


This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.


A Globetrotting Filmmaker, Seeking Answers About Our Urban Future

By the middle of the century, the share of urban dwellers is projected to hit 66 percent of the global population—some six billion people. To accommodate the ballooning figures, cities will have to get creative.

“Is future urbanization going to be a good thing or a bad thing?” asks filmmaker Oscar Boyson. “If you care about people,” he adds, “this is going to be the defining question of our time.”

Any answers are likely to be complicated and numerous—but chances are good that there’s a lot to be learned by hashing out possible solutions with as many voices as possible.

In pursuit of examples, Boyson fired off a quick YouTube video soliciting suggestions for places and projects. His effort generated 1,500 responses across 75 countries. Boyson had immersed himself in urbanist texts by the likes of Jane Jacobs and Jan Gehl, to name a few, but he wanted to, as he puts it, take a “quick trip around the world and see what is sticking.” So he ponied up for one of American Airlines’ round-the-world tickets, and, over the course of two weeks, jetted from New York to Santiago, Auckland, Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Mumbai, London, Copenhagen, and Venice. Back stateside, he hit Detroit, L.A., and Boston.

The final result is an 18-minute filmThe Future of Cities, which splices analysis from the likes of Janette Sadik-Kahn and Edward Glaeser with mini-profiles of folks innovating on the ground.

Instead of hiring professional fixers to coordinate his travels and help pair him with sources, Boyson met up with people who had seen his initial video and agreed to show him the city through their lens. His contacts ranged from college kids to academics and architects. As soon as he touched down, Boyson hit the streets—or, when he wasn’t able to visit in person, viewers sent footage to him. (A student in Hong Kong, for instance, filmed Shenzhen street scenes when he went home to the city for the weekend.) “Pretty much everyone I emailed, even on three hours’ notice, was ready to rock,” Boyson says.

Faced with similar problems—a shrinking stock of affordable housing, car-choked streets—cities could do well to swap solutions. “Because cities inherently just don’t compete with each other, there’s a huge opportunity to collaborate with other cities,” Lauren Lockwood, Boston’s chief digital officer, says in the film. Boyson highlights some examples: Could a water usage tracking app, which aims to push back against utility shutoffs in Detroit, help places like Santiago and L.A., which are struggling with their own water-supply challenges? Could other cities adapt Santiago’s free electric rickshaws, or Singapore’s cap on the duration of a car’s lease? What about reimagining paved thoroughfares as public space or curbing the places where cars can roam?

A school in Lagos is built from locally available materials that float. (Oscar Boyson)

In the film, Jockin Aruputham, the president of Slum Dwellers International, and Morton Kabell, Copenhagen’s mayor for technical and environmental affairs, advocate incremental, citizen-driven initiatives. Boyson chronicles other cities that exemplify the concept of “kanju”—a term that Dayo Olopade, author of The Bright Continent, translates as “hustling” or “reimagining challenges as opportunities to innovate.” In Karachi, for example, bricks are made from tightly packed bags, while in Lagos, a school in a zone prone to flooding was retrofit to float. Residents pitch in to make it happen.

That idea echoes the role Boyson sees himself playing. “I’m more of an organizer of data and information than a guy telling you how it is,” he says. He envisions himself as a curator of voices and perspectives, not an issuer of dogma. He hopes this project is the first chapter of an ongoing conversation. The common denominator, he says, will be “going to real places and connecting with real people.” When it comes to outfitting cities for their future residents, he adds, it’s crucial to consider “who we’re making them for, and who we’re changing them with.” Those on-the-ground perspectives, he adds, are key. “The best thing about cities, and the internet, is that they connect people.”


This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.