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Rockefeller offers $100 million
to make cities more resilient
New York City, 15 May 2013: To mark the start of its second century, The Rockefeller Foundation is launching 100 Resilient Cities, a US$100-million effort to build urban resilience worldwide. The Foundation is inviting cities from across the world to participate. One hundred successful applicants will be selected to join a new urban resilience network. The network will provide support to member cities and share new knowledge and resilience best practices. Cities will also be provided with the tools and resources to create a resilience plan.
The Rockefeller Foundation believes that in coming years natural and man-made disasters will grow in frequency and leave cities largely unprepared and under-resourced to bounce back. “Public and private sector leaders are expressing an increasing desire to build greater resilience, yet many have neither the technical expertise nor the financial resources to create and execute resilience strategies on a city-wide scale, in a way that addresses the need of the poor or vulnerable people,” the Foundation said in a press statement.
In August this year, cities can be nominated through a formal application process. Winning cities will be announced in three rounds over the next three years, with the final round of winners named in 2015. Nominations can be made by city governments or major institutions within cities/
The Foundation defines resilience as the capacity of individuals, communities and systems to survive, adapt and grow in the face of stress and shocks as well as even transform when conditions require it.
The Foundation was set up on 14 May 1913 by the US industrialist John D Rockefeller to ‘promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world’ with an initial gift of $35 million. It has now assets of some $3.6 billion.
Mayors suggest fund
to combat urban crime
Washington DC, 16 March 2013: Mayors from cities around the world called for international cooperation to make cities safer. At a meeting sponsored by UN Habitat, Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico City’s former mayor and winner of the 2010 World Mayor Prize, told reporters the purpose of the meeting was to show the world that cities could and wanted global action in order to guarantee safety for people in cities. He also suggested the establishment of a trust fund strictly for urban areas. “We need to establish a common index in order to know which city is the safest and which city is not safe in the short or medium term and also to propose to the international community an international trust fund to support directly local authorities, ” he said.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who said she spoke on behalf of US mayors, told reporters that it was difficult to define crime across cultures. She added that a permanent body consisting of city representatives from around the world could create a common metric and language. “We would share best practices on law enforcement but we would also focus our efforts on prevention, recognising that productive opportunities and supervisions for youth are the best long-term most cost-effective prevention strategy.”
Parks Tau, Mayor of Johannesburg, said at a press conference: “Mayors recognise the need to establish regional networks on safer cities and work towards safer cities, underpinned by the principles of insuring greater community involvement to address matters of local safety.”
Iñaki Azkuna, Mayor of Bilbao
awarded the World Mayor Prize
London, 8 January 2013: Iñaki Azkuna, Mayor of Bilbao, Spain, has been awarded the 2012 World Mayor Prize. Following a nine-month public nomination and voting process Mayor Azkuna was the choice of the judging panel comprising the fellows of The City Mayors Foundation. City Mayors said Mr Azkuna, mayor since 1999, had been instrumental in transforming Bilbao from a declining industrial city into an international centre for tourism and the arts. “Two events sparked off Bilbao’s transformation: the opening of the Guggenheim Museum in 1997 and the election of Iñaki Azkuna as mayor two years later,” he added.
The two runners-up of World Mayor 2012 are Lisa Scaffidi, Mayor of Perth (Australia) and Joko Widodo, Mayor of Surakarta (Indonesia).
Tann vom Hove, Senior Fellow at the City Mayor Foundation, said: “Since being first elected in 1999, Mayor Iñaki Azkuna has used the high profile of the Guggenheim Museum, designed architect Frank Gehry, to re-build the city. The Bilbao Guggenheim has become Europe’s iconic equivalent of the Sydney Opera House.”
Tann vom Hove also praised Mayor Azkuna’s financial management as Mayor of Bilbao. “The mayor used economically good times to pay back debt without forgoing investments vital for the future of the city.” In an interview with City Mayors, Mayor Azkuna said Bilbao was now virtually debt-free and that new debt would only incur for projects that will strengthen the future of Bilbao.
Runner-up in the 2012 World Mayor Project and winner of the World Mayor Commendation for services to her city is Lisa Scaffidi, Mayor of Perth, Western Australia. Tann vom Hove said she had the vision and energy to make Perth into one of the most remarkable cities in the world. “Under Mayor Scaffidi’s leadership, Perth has become Australia’s third city after Sydney and Melbourne,” he added.
Third place in the 2012 World Mayor Project goes to Joko Widodo, Mayor of Surakarta (Indonesia) from 2005 to September 2012, when he was elected Governor of Jakarta. While Mayor of Surakarta - also known as Solo - Joko Widodo turned a crime-ridden city into a regional centre for arts and culture, which has started to attract international tourism. “His campaign against corruption earned him a reputation of being the most honest politician in Indonesia,” Tann vom Hove commented.
The top 10 mayors of World Mayor 2012
1 Iñaki Azkuna, Bilbao, Spain
2 Lisa Scaffidi, Perth, Australia
3 Joko Widodo, Surakarta, Indonesia
4 Régis Labeaume, Québec City, Canada
5 John F Cook, El Paso, USA
6 Park Wan-su, Changwon City, South Korea
7 Len Brown, Auckland, New Zealand
8 Edgardo Pamintuan, Angeles City, Philippines
9 Mouhib Khatir, Zeralda, Algeria
10 Alfonso Sánchez Garza, Matamoros, Mexico
Cultural diversity adds
to cities’ dynamism
Hamamatsu, 31 October 2012: A global summit on promoting greater understanding of migrants’ needs by city governments has concluded in Japan with calls for more integrated policies and learning. The Asia-Europe Intercultural City Summit was held in Hamamatsu Japan and heard from representatives of cities in Japan, South Korea, Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands. Hamamatsu’s mayor Yatsutomo Suzuki told the event that cities are at the forefront of developing better policies for national government to promote cohesion among migrant communities, especially those in Japan with large Latin American populations, and that this is best developed in cooperation with other cities around the world facing similar challenges.
The Hamamatsu Declaration issued at the conclusion of the event commits Japanese and European cities to work with partners to promote integrated policies around interculturalism in urban areas, in particular recognising cultural diversity as “a source of cities’ dynamism” and drawing on this for “a new urban vision in the age of globalization based on the diversity advantage”. It anticipates that a global partnership among intercultural cities will promote learning in order to develop better policies around the needs of migrant communities.
The Council of Europe reported that in Europe the levels of migration and diversity were such that one could not afford to improvise for much longer. “According to Eurostat, there were 47.3 million foreign-born residents in the EU in 2010 (9.4% of the total population), with 6.5 per cent of the EU population being foreign nationals. Most of the EU foreign residents are from non-EU countries such as Turkey, Morocco, China and Russia and 63.4% of them come from highly developed countries, as defined by the Human Development index.”
From Japan Professor Yamawaki Keizo of the Meiji University reported that the number of foreign residents in Japan began to increase significantly in 1990, with the revision of the Immigration Control Act, and continued growing until 2008. “At the end of 2008, the number of registered foreigners was approximately 2.22 million, 2.4 times more than those registered 20 years earlier. However, due to the global financial turmoil since September 2008, and the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, the number of registered residents has declined slightly, standing at approximately 2.09 million as of September 2011.”
“Of these, two thirds have permanent resident status, which allows long-term stays and places no restrictions on employment, making them de-facto immigrants. In addition, roughly 15,000 people acquire Japanese citizenship each year, so we can see a growing tendency of foreigners to become long-term residents in Japan. Although there was a lot of attention paid to foreigners who returned to their native countries because of the earthquake, more than two million foreign residents stayed in Japan in spite of the financial crisis and the disaster. Many of these people have a strong desire to live here permanently, and are important members of Japanese society.”
“Meantime, the total population of Japan peaked in 2004 at approximately 128 million, and has been decreasing since. Within the next 50 years, it is expected to shrink by nearly 30 per cent, and drop below 90 million. The working-age population (15-64 years) will fall by half in the next 50 years, and the percentage of elderly (the ratio of persons older than 65 in the total population) is predicted to climb from the current 23 per cent to over 40 per cent. Furthermore, in response to requests from companies eager to globalize, the government is stepping up efforts to accept highly skilled foreign workers, and is promoting the increase of students from abroad in order to advance the international competitiveness of Japanese universities”.
The event was organised by the Council of Europe, the Japan Foundation and the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR).
New York offers business
the greatest opportunities
New York City, 12 October 2012: London loses out narrowly to New York City for the top spot of this year’s ‘Cities of Opportunity’ ranking. But PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), the authors of the report say that while NYC performs well across the board, it does not win in any single category. Paris rises four places to number four, while Beijing and Shanghai move into the top five for economic clout. Overall, the top five cities are: New York City, London, Toronto, Paris and Stockholm.
In the fifth edition of Cities of Opportunity, PwC and the Partnership for New York City again examine the current social and economic performance of the world’s leading 27 cities.
While New York officially edges out London by one point across 10 economic indicators, the city wins in no individual category. Toronto, which finishes third, also shows great balance yet wins no category. London, however, takes the lead in city gateway, an indicator introduced this year that measures global interconnectedness and international attraction.
1) New York City
6) San Francisco
8) Hong Kong
13) Los Angeles
18) Kuala Kumpur
21) Mexico City
22) Abu Dhabi
23) Buenos Aires
26) Sao Paulo
Leaders in individual categories:
Transport & infrastructure: Singapore
Health, safety & security: Stockholm
Economic clout: Beijing
City gateway: London
Experts issue warnings on
urban population growth
London, 8 September 2012: A new book published this week claims that most of the world’s large cities are unprepared for the urban population explosion that will ‘occur in the 21st century’. The author, Shlomo Angel, urges planners and political leaders to act now to establish basic infrastructure and make realistic projections for needed urban land, while at the same time setting aside critical green and open space and predicts that by 2050 some 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities. “This means the world's urban population is projected to grow from 3.5 billion in 2010 to 6.2 billion in 2050.”
The book continues to claim that almost all of these new urban residents will be in developing countries. Although concern about sprawl in the United States, and to a certain extent recently in China, has focused on smart growth, containment, urban growth boundaries, compactness, and density, that approach is not appropriate for cities in developing countries where population densities are four times greater than in US cities. Those areas are likely to more than triple their developed land areas by 2050.
The book Planet of Cities, published by the Lincoln Institute of land Policy, instead suggests a ‘making room’ paradigm to come to terms with the expected expansion of cities, particularly in the rapidly urbanising countries in Asia and Africa, and to make the minimally necessary preparations.
The paradigm is predicated on four propositions:
• The expansion of cities due to urban population growth cannot be contained. Instead we must make adequate room to accommodate it.
• City densities must remain within a sustainable range. If density is too low, it must be allowed to increase, and if it is too high, it must be allowed to decline.
• Strict containment of urban expansion destroys the homes of the poor and puts new housing out of reach for most people. Decent housing for all can be ensured only if urban land is in ample supply.
• As cities expand, the necessary land for public streets, public infrastructure networks, and public open spaces must be secured in advance of development.
But experts are divided about future population growth and possible solutions. Some don’t believe that the urban population growth experienced between 1950 and 2010 will continue in the same vein, while others advocate policies to shrink the world’s population. In an interview with The Guardian, Prof Paul Ehrlich from Stanford University said the optimum population of Earth - enough to guarantee the minimal physical ingredients of a decent life to everyone - was 1.5 to 2 billion people rather than the 7 billion who are alive today or the 9 billion expected in 2050. Earlier this year, the London Royal Society warned that the world population needed to be stabilised quickly and high consumption in rich countries rapidly reduced to avoid a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills.
London, 31 August 2012: London’s investment banker would rather work in Singapore and New York than in the British capital. They also believe that in ten years’ time cities in the Asia-Pacific region will have become the world’s most important financial services centres. A survey among 450 London-based bankers revealed that 31 per cent of respondents chose Singapore as their most favoured location, up from 27 per cent last year. Singapore ranked first amongst all destinations, followed by New York (20 per cent), London (19 per cent, down from 22 per cent last year), Hong Kong (16 per cent) and Dubai (15 per cent).
The survey ‘Preferred Location Survey’ by recruitment consultants Astbury Marsden also found that some 60 per cent of the 450 bankers questioned expected the Asia-Pacific region to be the biggest financial services centre in ten years’ time. Just 20 per cent expected London to be the biggest financial services centre in the next 10 years. Hong Kong (22 per cent) and Shanghai (22 per cent) were the most popular predictions amongst investment bankers to be the largest financial services centre, while a further 16 per cent predicted that Singapore would be the biggest.
The results suggest a big swing in confidence towards Singapore, after not a single respondent in last year’s survey picked Singapore to take over to be the largest financial services centre. The survey authors commented that Singapore was fast becoming the first port of call for European and US banks and hedge-funds to set up in Asia, with its large and established capital market, and close trade links with growth markets like India. “Banks and hedge-funds continue to shift their focus Eastwards and we expect this trend to continue.”
Mark Cameron, Chief Operating Officer at Astbury Marsden, said: “A fast growing, low tax and bank friendly environment like Singapore stands as a perfect antidote to the comparatively high tax and anti-banker sentiment of London and New York.”
“While some commentators have turned a blind eye to it, the increasing mobility of the workforce means that far more London based bankers are now more willing and able to relocate the 6,700 miles to Singapore.” Astbury Marsden explains despite an increasingly tough regulatory environment in Hong Kong and Singapore, reforms in the West such as the Vickers report and the Volcker Rule, are likely to take their toll on New York and London.
“Cities like Singapore and Hong-Kong have been quick to capitalise on setbacks in London and New York, courting investment banks and reacting to demand from expats and tourists for facilities such as sporting, music and other international events. This has made them popular destinations for expat investment bankers and hedge fund staff.”
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Rockefeller offers $100 million to make cities more resilient
Mayors suggest fund to combat urban crime
Iñaki Azkuna, Mayor of Bilbao awarded the World Mayor Prize
Cultural diversity adds to cities’ dynamism
New York City offers business the greatest opportunities
Experts issue warnings on urban population growth
London bankers prefer Singapore