Tag Archives: development

Nations Adopt Plan for Breakneck Urbanization

Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township is seen in this picture taken October 4, 2016. Picture taken October 4, 2016. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Johnny Miller - RTSRXXL

Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township is seen in this picture taken October 4, 2016. Picture taken October 4, 2016. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Johnny Miller 

By Paola Totaro
October 2016

QUITO, Ecuador (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The United Nations formally adopted a global road map to grapple with rapid urbanization on Thursday Oct. 20, capping nearly two years of behind-the-scenes international negotiations aimed at designing development priorities for cities and towns over the long term.

The New Urban Agenda (NUA) sets out a host of general goals such as development of sustainable and compact cities that do not harm the environment and redevelopment of informal settlements with the participation of residents.

The 23-page document was agreed upon at the U.N. Habitat III conference, held every 20 years to discuss the future of the world’s cities, by the U.N.’s 193-member nations.

“Urbanization is happening at an unprecedented pace and scale, and 3.7 billion people now live in cities. We think in the forthcoming years, by 2050, this will rise to 7 billion,” said Joan Clos, executive director of Habitat III.

“It is historic in the sense that never in human history have we seen such a transformation of human society,” he said. “This represents huge challenges, and the NUA aims to guide strategy to face these challenges.”

Unlike the 2015 climate negotiations in Paris that sought legally binding agreements on global warming, the NUA is non-binding. Clos said it should be seen as a guide to generate debate before implementation at the national level.

“We want to say that we need not fear urbanization,” he said. “There are some countries that want to stop urbanization, put a wall against it. We want to guide it.”

Many points in the NUA are related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the U.N. last year to end poverty and inequality by 2030. One SDG calls for making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

The NUA drew sharp criticism from a number of scientists who say it fails to address the urgency of growing urbanization and contains no tangible plan.

“(This) is entirely absent from the NUA. The planet has already moved beyond critical planetary boundaries related to climate, biodiversity, land use and fertilizer use,” said

Timon McPhearson, assistant professor of urban ecology at The New School in New York.

Nearly one billion poor people live in urban slums and informal settlements in about 100,000 cities around the world, in dire need of clean water, energy, food, sanitation and health services, he said.

The U.N. estimates that number will triple by 2030.

“Without a clear plan for implementation of the NUA and related SDGs, we will not make the needed progress for even basic quality of life and livelihoods in informal and other urban settlements,” McPhearson said.

Some members of the global scientific community plan to join forces at an international conference in 2018 to explore urban issues and solutions and look at what has been implemented from the NUA.

Habitat III was seen as particularly significant as it was held when for the first time, more people live in cities than in rural areas.

In 2014, 54 percent of the global population lived in cities but by 2050, the U.N. expects this figure to reach 66 percent.

Copyright Reuters 2016

(Reporting by Paola Totaro, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Related on F&O:

In Quito, the world tackles the future of cities, by Barbara Norman and John Colin Reid  Dispatch

Tens of thousands gathered in Quito this week for the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. The stark facts about our global urban future  include growth of the global population from seven to nearly ten billion by 2050, that of the seven billion people in the world, 6.7 billion live with pollution above WHO clean air standards, and that 12 million in East Asia alone will be at risk from coastal inundation.

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In Quito, the world tackles the future of cities

By Barbara Norman and John Colin Reid 
October 22, 2016

Quito's old town. Photo Deborah Jones © 2013

Quito’s old town. Photo Deborah Jones © 2013

As the global population grows from seven to nearly ten billion by 2050, we will need to build the equivalent of a city of one million people every five days to house them.

The world already has ten cities with more than 20 million inhabitants, including Tokyo (37 million), Beijing (21 million), Jakarta (30 million) and New Delhi (25 million). Out of the seven billion people in the world, 6.7 billion live with pollution above WHO clean air standards.

By 2050, around 12 million people from 23 cities in East Asia alone will be at risk from coastal inundation. Planning for climate change will be critical to minimise risk to these areas.

These are just some of the stark facts about our global urban future. With these issues in mind, up to 50,000 participants gathered in Quito this week to discuss a New Urban Agenda at Habitat III – the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development.

The adoption of the agenda will set standards for sustainable development with a strong emphasis on social inclusion, cultural diversity, urban prosperity, urban governance, urban spatial development, and integrated urban planning including climate change.

From Paris to Quito

The Paris agreement on climate change will come into effect in November 2016. Cities will be at the heart of achieving its aim to limit global warming to less than 2°C. Planning for a low-carbon and resilient urban future is now our greatest global challenge. It is critical to achieving emission reduction targets and planning cities for climate change.

After all, cities produce 76% of carbon dioxide emissions and account for 75% of energy use worldwide. The focus is now on implementing the Paris agreement; that is where the New Urban Agenda, proposed for agreement at UN Habitat III, comes into play.

Key issues being discussed include affordable housing, urban transport, gender equity, empowerment of women and girls, poverty, and hunger in all its forms. Involving communities in the future and design of cities is essential. Better urban governance of our growing cities and urban regions is a core theme.

Observing the range of activities here at Habitat III, it is impressive to see the significant engagement of the private sector as well as governments and NGOs. This mix of partnerships is vital if we are to make positive change in the planning of our cities.

Global companies are present as well as local consultancies. They can clearly see there is a market for them in more sustainable futures. This brings great hope for the future.

The scientists are less happy, and are seeking greater engagement in future discussions. In the latest issue of Nature, the commentary says “Scientists must have a say in the future of cities” and argues that they should have been more involved in the Habitat III processes.

Clearly, better connecting scientists with planners with communities is important in finding sustainable solutions. A key component in improving city planning is sharing knowledge and expertise.

Cities are often connected through global urban networks such as C40, a network of megacities advocating for action on climate change, and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.

Another important strategy being presented is improving the sharing of knowledge and expertise between “like climate regions”. It is equally important to improve communication of the major urban challenges with wider audiences.

Researchers with the United Nations University developed an art strategy as part of the preparatory process for Habitat III, with the intention of stimulating thought and discussion on health and well-being in cities. The overall message from UN Habitat III is that the sustainable planning and design of our cities and human settlements is fundamental to improving the health and well being of our urban communities and acting on climate change. Through that, we tackle the stark facts of urban pollution, our response to climate change, and the future liveability of our cities.

Our moment to act

We are living in a unique time for cities, with multiple UN agendas coming together at once: the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris climate agreement, Sendai Framework for Risk Reduction and the Small Island Developing States Partnerships Framework. National urban policies are seen as crucial to implementation of all these agreements. As the New Urban Agenda states:

the persistence of multiple forms of poverty, growing inequalities, and environmental degradation remain among the major obstacles to sustainable development worldwide.

Through better urban governance, we can make significant inroads to address the ongoing barriers to achieving more sustainable cities. The proposed agenda particularly highlights transportation and mobility as a priority to support action. Habitat III offers an opportunity to raise global understanding of the enormous challenges facing cities, and a platform for nations to collaborate in developing more sustainable urban futures. This will require considerable effort from everyone.

The ConversationCreative Commons

Barbara Norman is Chair of Urban & Regional Planning & Director of Canberra Urban & Regional Futures, at University of Canberra.  John Colin Reid is a Visual artist at Australian National University This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Related on F&O:

Nations Adopt Plan for Breakneck Urbanization, by Paola Totaro

The United Nations formally adopted a global road map to grapple with rapid urbanization, capping nearly two years of behind-the-scenes international negotiations aimed at designing development priorities for cities and towns.

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.
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More Food No Answer to Africa’s Hunger

A Malawian subsistence farmer surveys her maize fields in Dowa near the capital Lilongwe, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

A Malawian subsistence farmer surveys her maize fields in Dowa near the capital Lilongwe, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

By Alex Whiting
September, 2016

TURIN, Italy (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As a young university student of agriculture, Edie Mukiibi believed the latest hybrid seeds which promised bumper crops were the answer to improving the lot of maize farmers in his part of Uganda.

He persuaded many to buy the seeds, while working part-time promoting them in Kiboga district in central Uganda.

But the consequences were “terrible”, he said. It was 2007, a year of drought, and the new seeds turned out to be less resilient than traditional varieties.    “The farmers lost almost everything – every bit of maize crop they had. When I went back to talk with the farmers I could feel their pain,” Mukiibi said.     Even worse, the new crops could not be grown with any other crops, so the farmers were left with nothing to fall back on except the bills they had run up for the pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers the maize required, he said.    “This is when I started working with farmers … to diversify (their) farming,” said Mukiibi, now vice president of Slow Food International, a grassroots movement of farmers, chefs, activists and academics campaigning to improve the quality of food and the lives of producers.

He said he wanted to help farmers use “local seeds, local knowledge, and traditional ways of managing resources”.

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CAUSE OF MALNUTRITION

Large companies are increasingly taking charge of food production in Africa and pushing for greater quantities of food – but these are not the answer to cutting hunger in Africa, he said on the sidelines of Slow Food’s annual festival in the Italian city of Turin which opened on Thursday.      “We need to think more about the real causes of malnutrition in developing countries, and we need to realise the problem is not production, the problem is how do we keep the food we have in circulation,” Mukiibi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In Africa, food lost during or after harvest could feed 300 million people, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.    Mukiibi, who is based in Mukono district just east of the Ugandan capital Kampala, said people can go hungry in one part of Uganda while bananas are rotting in the fields and in stores in another part.    “We need to encourage small-scale producers that they are still important in the world of food,” he said, adding that thousands in Uganda have lost access to land bought by foreign companies producing food for export.

Many are given jobs on the newly created industrial-sized farms.    Traditionally, Ugandan farms grow different crops on the same piece of land. Five acres may be planted with coffee and in between the coffee plants, bananas and cocoa are grown, as well as yams and beans for the family to eat, he said.    The crops support each other – in times of drought coffee plants extend their roots to banana plants which naturally hold more water, he added.    “This is a … very, very productive farming system in Africa.”

Copyright Reuters 2016

Reporting by Alex Whiting, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change.

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

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