City Mayors reports on and discusses urban development issues in developed and developing countries

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City Mayors reports on and discusses urban development issues in developed and developing countries

Spatial Planning and Development in the USA:
Economic growth is of paramount importance

14 March 2019: Spatial planning and development in the US is quite different from Europe in many regards.  One of the biggest differences between planning in the US and Europe is that spatial planning and development in the US is almost exclusively a local government responsibility. Spatial planning and development does not happen in a vacuum, of course. It is part of a whole socio-economic environment. Federal government policies on taxation, workers’ rights, property rights, etc. impose limits on what can be done. But the local government context is extremely important for understanding modernization in the US. MORE

Smart cities – a delusion
of misplaced priorities

14 January 2016: According to a study by MIT Media Lab, in the future, cities will account for 90 per cent of the global population growth, 80 per cent of wealth creation and 60 per cent of total energy consumption. Developing better strategies is therefore imperative for improving the living environment in our existing cities. Expanding current metropolises by rational planning, and refurbishing infrastructure and amenities in existing cities can be intelligent and sustainable options but are highly challenging in the context of the meager fiscal and other resources and lack of political will. The policymakers are, instead, looking at creating ‘smart cities’ for the future! More

Megaregions are predicted to propel
US population and economic growth

10 March 2013: It’s a commonplace among urban planners and many policymakers that regions are the basic unit of economic competitiveness in the global economy. America 2050, part of the Regional Plan Association, reckons that America’s population growth and and even a larger share of the country’s economic expansion will occur in 11 megaregions. Yet nowhere in the industrialized world are regions given fewer resources and less power than in the United States. More

Japan urged to invite foreign expertise
when re-building tsunami communities

4 March 2012: Japan is planning to build six energy efficient so-called ‘future cities’ in the region devastated by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami one year ago. But there are concerns about the scope and sustainability of the projects and whether international entities will be shut out. More

Gentrification poses a new
dilemma for many US cities

29 September 2011: Gentrification has been a characteristic of major American cities like New York and Boston for over a century, but in the past decade it has become part of the growth cycle of smaller cities as well. Minority and working class neighborhoods such as Pittsburgh’s South Side; Northwest Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and East Austin, Texas are being transformed as white and middle-class residents move in. More

London Olympics: The Games will be a success
but doubts over their long-term legacy remain

7 September 2011: For seven weeks, from 27 July to 9 September 2012, the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place in London. Since winning the 2005 bid against its competitors Paris, New York and Moscow, while promising that the 30th Olympiad would regenerate London’s East End, a lot has changed in England’s sixth-most deprived district of Newham and the surrounding areas of Stratford. More

World’s most famous slum must
be remodelled not redeveloped

21 June 2011: Dharavi is Asia’s largest and the world’s second-largest ‘slum’, made famous by the film Slumdog Millionaire. Maharashtra’s state government now has plans to re-develop large parts of it. City Mayors’ Urban Development Consultant Prakash M Apte describes the plans as perhaps well meaning but certainly misguided. He calls for a remodelling of Dharavi. Prince Charles agrees with him, arguing Dharavi offered a better model than western architecture for housing a booming urban population in the developing world. More

Adding value, not just shrinking
is the key to rightsizing cities

13 June 2011: Cities and regions grow, reach a plateau and shrink. Sometimes they start growing again after a short slump, such as New York City following the dismal 1970s, in other cases, like in Mayor Curley’s mid 20th century Boston, it takes decades of distress before the wheels of fortune start turning again and the urban economy finds itself in tune with current economic developments. Some cities though, like Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis or Youngstown, are seemingly unable to halt their population losses. More

Gandhinagar’s unique layout
threatened by urban planners

24 April 2011: Either by design or imbecility the re-planning of the Indian city of Gandhinagar by the consultants to its urban development authority has obliterated its identity as a state capital. The city’s consciously created axial layout and egalitarian Gandhian ethos has been dismantled. The juggernaut of unbridled capitalism has led to its debasement and inorganic extension resulting in its becoming just another suburb of Ahmedabad. More

East London will use Olympics
to change negative perceptions

18 March 2011: When it comes to selling the East London borough of Newham, the toughest audience is Londoners themselves. Decades of industrial decline, joblessness, social deprivation and crime place it far from the British capital’s glittering West End. Jeremy Clarkson, a popular British television presenter, once described Newham as so far East “that it might as well be in Poland.” But decades of investment are starting to pay off: this year, Clarkson has chosen to bring his TV series Top Gear to Newham. More

India needs futuristic policies to manage
economic growth and rapid urbanization

16 January 2011: With the recent rapid strides of the Indian economy, acceleration in the urbanization trend can be safely predicted. Every economy undergoing such rapid growth has witnessed higher levels of urbanization akin to what is taking place in China. Do India’s towns, cities and metropolitan centers have the institutional structures and resources to manage this transition? More

UK cities seek new ways
to finance capital projects

26 November 2010: As mayors and other city leaders in the UK grapple with eye-watering budget reductions, many are looking for new ways to raise money and finance both capital schemes and programmes. Changing arrangements with the private sector is high on their wish-lists. More

Studies uncover pros and cons
of efforts to revitalize US cities

6 October 2010: Three recent studies on mixed-use development, resident satisfaction with their neighborhoods, and community gardens offer insights into the effectiveness of some of the most widely-used urban revitalization strategies of mayors in the United States. More

The Linear City promises humane
living spaces for our small planet

12 August 2010: The idea of the Linear City results from ten years of study and a close look will make people realize that the concept offers several solutions to the ecological and sociological problems of our times. Moreover, the Linear City aims at increasing the quality of life by bringing the countryside to the city and it does so through a realistic and affordable transition. The world is currently faced with the fact that billions of people need a place to live on a small planet governed by ecological laws. More

Dubai’s local government adjusts
priorities following the global crisis

18 April 2010: Following the international downturn in 2008 and the subsequent difficulties at Dubai World, the Dubai government and the municipality under its Director General Hussain Nasser Lootah are adjusting their ambitious programmes and slow the hitherto rapid pace of development. More

American cities seek to
discover their right size

5 April 2010: Mayors in many American industrial cities are embracing urban revitalization through ‘rightsizing’, or shrinking their cities’ infrastructure to match shrinking populations. Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, and Youngstown lost half their population over the past 50 years and continue to lose residents. The cities’ built environment – buildings, streets, and utilities – far exceeds the needs of the current or projected population. More

St Etienne re-invents itself
as city for art and design

28 March 2010: When Mayor of Saint Etienne and President of the agglomeration authority Saint Etienne Metropole Maurice Vincent welcomed guests to the opening of the 64 million euros Cité Du Design in November 2009 he was completing a task initiated by his predecessor Michel Thiollore well over a decade ago. Michel Thiollore, who placed fifth in the World Mayor contest in 2006, came to office in the early 1990’s with a dynamic and positive approach to the task of restoring the city’s fortunes. More

Business Improvement Districts
are unashamedly business-led

16 January 2010: As cities and towns become ever more populated, the debate on the way they are managed takes on an increasing urgency. With so many other priorities for the public purse the prospect of identifying a variety of income streams is attractive. One mechanism for so doing are Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). More

New legislation could make
US cities great for everyone

10 December 2009: A characteristic of American metropolitan areas is residential segregation by race and class. “If you give me a person’s address, I can almost always tell you his income, the quality of public schools his children attend, and the color of his skin,” says William A Johnson, former mayor of Rochester, New York. More

Damascus: A historic living city
must not become a theme park

16 October 2009: How can ancient cities benefit from the UNESCO world heritage badge and simultaneously avoid becoming a ‘Walt Disney’ for tourists? Syria’s capital, Damascus, is the oldest continuously lived in city in the world and is in danger of this phenomenon. With its five-star hotels and so-called ‘VIP pockets’, the locals are being driven out in droves. More

China’s urban transition
causes growing inequality

27 November 2008: The word transition perhaps best describes China: the world’s most populous country is transitioning from a predominantly rural society to an urban one. China’s urbanization process in the last two decades has been extraordinary: the urbanization level in the country has nearly doubled from 25 per cent in 1987 to roughly 42 per cent in 2007; it is estimated that by 2030, 60 per cent of the country’s population will be urban. While urbanization has led to unprecedented economic growth it has also caused massive inequalities. More

Scientists from Germany and Korea
work on creating green mega cities

3 September 2008: Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a typical mega city: vast, pulsating, noisy and full of exhaust fumes. This is the setting in which researchers from the German Fraunhofer Institute are developing new building concepts and IT solutions. which will save energy, cut pollution and make living in the city a more pleasant experience. More

Europe’s city centers and suburbs
will change drastically in the future

22 May 2008: The renaissance of the city is a hot topic in Europe. But what does the term renaissance mean? Generally it designates the renaissance of the inner city, the complex, mixed used inner city. The term renaissance is often applied to the city center only. Is such a perception appropriate? Does it mean that suburbanization is in decline? Professor Bodenschatz assumes that European cities have turned into urban regions, which will change drastically in the future. More

Continental cities provide
lessons for urban Britain

6 May 2008: Many towns and cities in Britain have had to cope with the decline of their principal industries, as have their counterparts in northern Europe. European cities can provide valuable insights into how to tackle deep-seated urban problems, such as the regeneration of run-down industrial areas.  Successful city development requires long-term commitment and genuine collaboration between many agencies and interests. More

India will need new cities and
they will require new powers

23 February 2008: India is on a high growth path and rapidly urbanising. If it mismanages the latter, it will have difficulty in ensuring the former. But there is currently little public awareness of the scale of the challenges ahead. Consequently grossly inadequate systems remain in place to handle the task. More

The world’s largest wholesale
market feeds 20 million people

17 February 2008: Spread over an area of 304 hectares, Mexico City’s Central Wholesale Produce Market deals in just about everything from fruit and vegetables, flowers, birds and meat, fish and seafood to dairy products, groceries, sweets, seeds, cereals, tinned products, raw materials and cleaning products – and countless more! In all, it generates more than eight billion dollars annually and supplies the daily needs of 20 million people. It is the country’s largest business centre, second only to the Mexican Stock Market. More

Time bomb is ticking
away for India’s cities

6 February, 2008: India is facing a massive urban crisis, whose solution is nowhere in sight. This is partly because what kind of a time bomb the crisis represents - how quickly things are likely to reach unbearable proportions - is not fully appreciated by most. The crisis has many facets but it is only the clogged roads that are seen to be for what they are: impossible to live with. Issues like having enough water and power and getting rid of waste are considered serious but not seen as coming to a head soon. More

Dubai and Shanghai examples
of wasteful urban development

15 December 2007: The danger of treating climate change only as a man-made phenomenon that impacts nature’s systems is that it posits the problem in some distant remoteness and absolves all of us of immediate responsibility. The facts tell us that three-quarters of the carbon dioxide in the world, which is the biggest greenhouse gas, is emitted by cities. Dubai and Shanghai are models that ought to be avoided, as they are examples of environmentally wasteful urban development. More

Politicians argue over demolition
of public housing in New Orleans

6 December 2007: Shortly before Christmas 2007, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is planning to unleash teams of bulldozers to demolish thousands of low-income apartments in New Orleans. Despite Hurricane Katrina causing the worst affordable housing crisis since the American Civil War, HUD is spending $762 million in taxpayer funds to tear down over 4,600 public -housing subsidized apartments and replace them with 744 similarly subsidized units - an 82 per cent reduction. More

US debates the preservation
of recent modernist buildings

17 October, 2007: The baby boom in the United States began in 1946 and lasted until around 1960.  Four million children were born each year during this period, more than double the number of the previous two decades. One way the US government responded to rapid post-World War II population growth was by offering low-interest, federally-guaranteed home mortgages. More

Sao Paulo’s Alphaville gated community -
an early answer to middle-class insecurity

14 October 2007: The rise of the 'gated community' has been in tandem with the urbanisation of society and the realisation that rising disposable incomes can provide the means to defend life and property against rising crime. Simultaneously, those who seek to live behind such methods of enforced security can often be viewed as contributing to a wider sense of marginalisation. In a country such as Brazil, highly urbanised and with internationally reputed high crime rates, this tendency is proving nothing short of a phenomena. The Alphaville community of Sao Paulo is one such manifestation worth considering. More

Little action as some 160,000 US bridges
are considered to be structurally deficient

10 October 2007: In a well-publicized 2005 report, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) concluded that 27 per cent of the almost 600,000 bridges in the US are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.  The report estimated that it would cost US $9 billion annually for 20 years to fix the bridges alone. The collapse of a major bridge in Minneapolis in August 2007, which underscored the warnings of the ASCE study, was only the latest high-profile infrastructure failure in the US. More

Guatemala City authorities push for
environmentally responsible growth

6 June 2007: After the devastating earthquake of 1773, Guatemala City was relocated to where it is today.  In 1776, after an arduous task of rebuilding, the new city was founded and dedicated to the Virgin of Asunción.  Guatemala de La Asunción, or “Guate” as the locals call it, is a city where the past and the future meet in equilibrium. Today Guatemala City is the largest and fastest growing city in Central America and one determined to avoid past planning  mistakes. More

Solving transport issues has
highest priority for megacities

16 May 2007: Environmental issues play a central role in urban planning. However, in emerging megacities, infrastructure growth often takes precedence over the environment. This is just one of the key findings of a survey of 522 decision makers from 25 megacities. Solving transportation issues has the highest priority in the cities surveyed, and air pollution is seen as the main environmental issue. More

City mayors must innovate
where governments dither

17 April 2007: Tired of inaction by the federal government, American cities increasingly are taking the lead on national issues. Global warming is one example. When the Bush administration downplayed the scientific evidence in support of global warming, Seattle Mayor Greg Nichols called on American cities to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol. So far, more than 150 have done so. Innovation by cities, of course, is not unique to America. Cities around the globe use their ingenuity to develop model solutions to nation-scale issues. More

An additional 100 million Americans
must not be housed in urban sprawls

24 March 2007: In just the next thirty-four years, the US Census Bureau says 300 million Americans would be joined by nearly another 100 million. Where will all these people live, work and play? Where will 40 million additional households be located? What sort of built environment will America produce, and what will be the results for the nation’s and the environment’s well-being? Most planners believe there will be more, much more urban sprawl. However, a report argues that’s exactly what must not happen. More

Mexico City and Mexico State cannot
bridge differences over road building

21 January 2007: Work on the construction of a bridge and a six-lane traffic distributor road on protected federal land between Mexico City and the State of Mexico - called “Barranca (ravine) de Hueyatlaco” – which was stopped for more than two years, was recently restarted amid raging controversy. Protesters say that the wealthy owners of real estate companies in the State of Mexico have the most to gain, and they further allege that central government has colluded with those companies. They fears that construction, followed by massive housing development, will destroy one of the city’s last ‘oxygen lungs’ and affect water supply. More

Scandinavian countries are first in
creating sustainable communities

7 November 2006: Sweden has a penchant for safety and cleanliness. Swedes invented the Volvo, one of the safest automobiles. Volvos are built to minimize harm to passengers during accidents, and they are built without toxic flame-retardants. Swedes invented the safety- match and dynamite too - much safer than the alternative it replaced, black powder. Recently, Sweden has become known for its innovations in sustainable development - safer development. More

US cities use demolition as planning
tool but results are often problematic

Between 1950 and 2000, the population of the City of Philadelphia declined by nearly 700,000, from 2.1 million to 1.4 million. People and businesses moved to the suburbs - but they didn’t take their buildings with them. In 2000, Philadelphia counted 30,000 residential and commercial properties that had been vacant 10 years or longer. Tens of thousands of other properties were optimistically labeled “short-term” vacants. Many of these buildings were health and safety hazards -- sites for rodents, vagrants, vandals, drug-related activities, and arson. More

Conceived by an Italian saint, Brasilia
is the world’s most striking capital city

First conceived of in a ‘prophetic’ dream by Saint John Bosco of Italy, Brasília is the federal capital of the Latin American republic resembling its name. It was inaugurated in 1960 by President Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira and took only 41 months to construct. It is regarded as one of the most visually striking cities in the world on account of its Le Corbusier-inspired architecture by the renowned modernist Oscar Niemeyer and was planned by Lúcio Costa. It is a World Heritage Site. More

Report claims new developments
threaten Toledo’s historic setting

Toledo, situated some 70 kilometres south of Madrid, is one of Spain’s most important historic cities. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, the city was once the country's capital and is renowned for its medieval architecture. It is also famous for steel making. Toledo swords were the most sought after hand weapons of their time. However, now a report by one of Spain’s oldest art academies says that the city’s historic setting could be seriously damaged by new developments planned by the city council. More

Baroness Thyssen in fight
over Prado Road redesign

The new project to redesign the Paseo del Prado (Prado Road) in Madrid was fiercly criticised by Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, who claims that the proposed road layout would leave the Thyssen Museum choking in exhaust fumes. “They want to put a motorway in front of one of the world’s most important art collections,” she said. More

Global urbanisation:
Threats and benefits
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. 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. More

Conceived by an Italian saint, Brasilia
is the world’s most striking capital city

First conceived of in a ‘prophetic’ dream by Saint John Bosco of Italy, Brasília is the federal capital of the Latin American republic resembling its name. It was inaugurated in 1960 by President Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira and took only 41 months to construct. It is regarded as one of the most visually striking cities in the world on account of its Le Corbusier-inspired architecture by the renowned modernist Oscar Niemeyer and was planned by Lúcio Costa. It is a World Heritage Site. More

Guatemala aims to become
the ‘city for living in’ by 2020

With an ambitious development plan, Guatemala City aims to become a thoroughly modern and organized city by 2020. Indeed, the municipal government under Mayor Alvaro Arzú is determined to make the Guatemalan capital ‘The city for living in’. The development plan, Guatemala 2020, has been designed to better the quality of life of citizens through the improvement of public services and creation of a culture based on respect and harmony. More

Seoul discovers that environmental
care can produce economic benefits

The restoration of Cheonggyecheon stream in the heart of the Korean capital Seoul means that South Korea, one of Asia’s most industry-driven nations, has started to demonstrate greater concern for the environment and nature. The rejuvenated stream also has a positive economic impact on the city, officials of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said. More

Moscow is looking for investors
to help with renewal of old city

Over the past three to four years, many of Moscow’s streets have been renovated. Modern office buildings and blocks of flats with underground car parks have sprung up. However, the city centre continues to fall into disrepair. The Russian capital is an old city. Experts claim that if a large-scale restoration of the central administrative district is not started now, some areas will be no better than slums in about twenty years. More

British government explores new ideas
to strengthen sustainable communities

A fresh initiative to encourage English cities to consider introducing an executive mayor structure was announced at the British Government’s Sustainable Communities summit in Manchester at the beginning of February 2005. The conference also heard from Chicago Mayor Richard Daley who emphasized the importance of schools in creating healthy neighbourhoods and London Mayor Ken Livingstone who spoke of the need to build affordable housing for key workers. More

America’s wildlife under attack
from rapid urban development

The rapid consumption of land in the fastest-growing large US metropolitan areas could threaten the survival of nearly one out of every three imperiled species. In at least three dozen rapidly-growing counties found mostly in the South and West of the US, open space on non-federal lands is being lost so quickly that essential wildlife habitat will be mostly gone within the next two decades, unless development patterns are altered. More

Urban poor increasingly made homeless
in India’s drive for more ‘beautiful’ cities

When Mumbai (Bombay) Municipal Corporation evicted pavement dwellers in 1981, a journalist came forward to file a public interest petition to protect the rights of the pavement dwellers. After five years in 1986, the case became a landmark judgment that maintained that the Right to Life included the Right to Livelihood. As livelihood of the poor depends directly on where they live, this was a verdict in favour of pavement dwellers. More

By 2030 the US will have re-built
almost half its built environment

In 2030, about half of the buildings in which Americans live, work, and shop will have been built after 2000. Most US states and metropolitan areas have some idea as to the amount of growth they expect over the next several decades, based on estimates of projected demographic, household, market and industry trends. These estimates form the foundation of public policies and are vital for use in goal setting, planning, and implementation of a variety of growth and development strategies. More

South Korea is planning and building
high-tech cities to remain competitive

South Korea is expected to have more globally competitive cities like Seoul in 10 years as three free economic zones nationwide are developing into international cities. Free economic zones were launched as part of South Korea’s survival strategies to cope with rising competition with other countries in the global economy. With neighbouring China growing fast as a global manufacturing hub, South Korea, the world’s 12th largest economy and Asia’s third largest, has encountered limits in its manufacturing-driven economic growth. More

Mayor of Paris selects design
for regeneration of Les Halles

The Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, has announced a vast new initiative at the heart of Paris - Les Halles - which will revolutionise the life of the centre of the city and which is part of his ambitious plans to change the face of Paris. Les Halles are named after the market founded 1183, when King Philippe II Auguste enlarged the previous marketplace in Paris and covered it, making a series of halls. More

Scientists say mangrove forests
can reduce impact of tsunamis

Dense mangrove forests growing along the coasts of tropical and sub-tropical countries can help reduce the devastating impact of tsunamis and coastal storms by absorbing some of the waves' energy, say scientists. When the tsunami struck India's southern state of Tamil Nadu on 26 December 2004, for example, areas in Pichavaram and Muthupet with dense mangroves suffered fewer human casualties and less damage to property compared to areas without mangroves. More

More than one billion people
call urban slums their home

At least one billion people live in slums, with the highest percentage of them found in Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to a new report by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). The UN report The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements 2003 was published on World Habitat Day, 6 October 2003. At a press briefing, Anna K. Tibaijuka, UN-HABITAT executive director, told CityMayors that at least 40 per cent of settlements in the world were classified as slums. More

Urban population is growing
by one million people a week

The world’s urban population will grow from 2.86 billion in 2000 to 4.98 billion by 2030, of which high-income countries will account for only 28 million out of the expected increase of 2.12 billion. The world’s annual urban growth rate is projected at 1.8 per cent in contrast to the rural growth rate of 0.1 per cent and about 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities. More

Changes in Asia’s fast growing cities
are closely watched across the world

Whereas London took 130 years to grow from one to eight million, Bangkok took 45 years, Dhaka 37 years and Seoul only 25 years, says research by UN-Habitat. By 2015, Asian developing countries will hold three of the world’s five largest urban agglomerations: Mumbai, Dhaka and Delhi. Despite the growth of Asia’s urban population, there has been an unprecedented decline in poverty in Asia-Pacific. UN-Habitat describes the recent progress in the region’s poverty reduction as one of the largest decreases in mass poverty in human history. Of all the world’s regions, Asia also ranks lowest in almost all types of crime. People in African and Latin American urban areas are twice as likely to become victims of crime than those living in Asian cities. More

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