Metropolis
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Email:
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Internet:
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Global urbanisation:
Threats and benefits

The 8th Metropolis World Congress

22 May 2005: The population of cities around the world is growing at the rate of about 180,000 a day, delegates at the 8th World Congress of Metropolis were told in Berlin. Many regard this massive drift from rural to urban areas as a threat with disastrous consequences for developing countries.

Review of Metropolis

UN Habitat, the UN Human Settlement Program, says that by 2030 there would be two billion new city dwellers. “Many of them will end up in slums. Already, one in ten city dwellers lives in slums; in Africa that is seven out of ten. Around 900 million people are currently living in slums.” Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN Habitat said in Berlin that chaotic urbanisation was the most important global problem that needs to be tackled after the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

However others attending the Congress described global urbanisation as inevitable and on the whole beneficial to society. "People move to cities because they hope for a better life, and they normally get it, even if they live in slums," said Reiner Klingholz from the Berlin Institute for Population and Development told IPS.

While some city mayors at the world congress perceived the rapid growth as a threat, Reiner Klingholz looks at the positive side of the development. "It is a logical consequence of an intensification of agriculture," he said. He argued that as farmers became more efficient, fewer people are needed for food production. That gave more people the freedom to move into jobs in industrial production and commodity chains. "All countries left the poverty trap in this way," he said. “Most slum dwellers have no access to clean drinking water and sewage or waste management. But the situation is still generally better than in rural areas,” Mr Klingholz added. "Cities have the big advantage of providing services covering a small distance. Food supply is also normally better in cities.”

The Congress also heard from Ashok Kumar Walia, Minister for urban development in India. He believes that in ten years time there would be some 27 mega cities, most of them in Asia. (‘Mega cities’ is a term that describes urban areas with populations of more than 10 million.} The Indian Minister told delegates that female dwellers would have a key role to play in solving the problems of mega cities. “"If the woman get educated, the whole family gets educated. And then health is taken care of and population growth is controlled," the minister explained.

Many representatives at the Metropolis World Congress complained that access to finance for development of their cities was restricted. Others pointed out that as cities grow they would need the support of international agencies and national governments. Patrick Ramiaramanana, the mayor of Antananarivo, capital city of Madagascar, suggested that the World Bank should engage directly with local governments and mayors. “Problems in urban communities can only be solved from the bottom up,” he said.

The 8th Metropolis World Congress took place in Berlin from 13 to 15 May 2005. Joan Clos, Mayor of Barcelona, was re-elected President of Metropolis. The Barcelona-based organisation for large cities also welcomed six new cities as members: Almaty (Kazajstan), Dili (East Timor), Kazan (Russia), Manchester (UK), Porto Alegre (Brazil) and Puebla (Mexico). The Metropolis Award 2005 was given to Antananarivo, Seoul and Alexandria for the outstanding urban projects.


Mayor Monitor allows you to rate the performance of mayors from across the world Full list


Mayor Monitor (MM)
City Mayors introduces Mayor Monitor (MM), which allows residents and non-residents to rate the performance of mayors and highlight their ‘best’ and ‘worst’ decisions. Mayor Monitor uses the widely understood one-to-ten rating system, where '1' signifies an extremely poor performance and '10' ‘an outstanding one. In addition to rating mayors’ performances, citizens are invited to highlight city leaders' best and worst decisions while in office.

Over time, Mayor Monitor will provide a valuable track record of mayors’ successes and failures as well as their popularity among residents and a wider public. The results will be published on the City Mayors website and updated monthly.

The MM list currently includes more than 30 mayors from The Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia Full list