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Room to Live - Human Settlements

Room to Live - Human Settlements

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Published by: Green Action Sustainable Technology Group on Jul 23, 2010
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08/15/2010

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What isIDRC?
IDRCworks with researchers in developingcountries to help them find practical,long-term solutions to the social,economic andenvironmentalproblems facing them.Inparticular,support is directed towardsdeveloping the local research capacitynecessary to sustain policies and tech-nologies that willbuild healthier,moreequitable,more prosperous societies.TheInternationalDevelopment ResearchCentrewasestablished in 1970 by an ActoftheParliament ofCanada.
IDRCBriefings
IDRCBriefings is an occasional seriesdedicated to exploring cross-cutting inter-nationaldevelopment issues.It focusesonsubjectsthat areparticularly deservingofgreater North-South cooperation inresearching and achieving practicalsolutions to problems of the day andlong-term challengesto sustainableandequitabledevelopment.Contentsmay befreely copied and quoted.Please mailtearsheetsor electronicversionsofprintedmaterialto IDRC.
For further informationcontact:
Diane Hardy,Head of Media RelationsIDRCOttawa
TEL
: 613-236-6163
EXT
.2570
E
-
MAIL
: dhardy@idrc.ca
Editorial Committee:
Jean-MarcFleury and LoisSweetMedia Contact: Diane HardyPhotos: IDRC
Information containedin IDRCBriefingsdoesnotnecessarilyreflect theofficial policiesor viewsofCanada’sInternational Development Research Centre.IDRCendeavourstoproduceenvironmentally-friendlypublications.All paper usedisrecycled,aswell asrecyclable.Allinksandcoatingsarevegetable-basedproducts.
Resources
EssentialInformation
Books, Reports& Publications
Managingthemonster:Urban wasteandgovernancein Africa
Onibokun,A.G.,ed.,IDRC(Ottawa)1999
For hunger-proof cities:Sustainableurbanfoodsystems
Koc,M.; MacRae,R.; Mougeot,L.J.A.; Welsh,J.,ed.,IDRC(Ottawa)1999
Thirstycities: Urban environmentsandwatersupplyin Latin America
DaniloAnton,IDRC(Ottawa)1993
BuidingaNew South Africa
Koc,M.; MacRae,R.; Mougeot,L.J.A.; Welsh,J.,ed.,Volume2,IDRC(Ottawa),1995
Citiesfeedingpeople: An examination ofurbanagriculturein East Africa
Egziabher,A.G.; Lee-Smith,D.; Maxwell,D.G.; Memon,P.A.; Mougeot,L.; Sawio,C.J.,IDRC(Ottawa)1994
Women andSurvival in Mexican Cities
SylviaChant,Manchester UniversityPress(ManchesterandNew York)1991
TheGaiaAtlasof Cities: New DirectionsforSustainableUrban Living
Herbert Girardet,GaiaBooks(London)1996
Environment,Scarcity,andViolence
ThomasF.Homer-Dixon,Princeton UniversityPress(Princeton)1999
ReinventingCitiesfor PeopleandthePlanet
MollyO’Meara,Worldwatch Paper 147,June1999
EndangeredMexico: AnEnvironment ontheEdge
Joel Simon,SierraClubBooks(San Francisco)1997
BasicFactson Urbanization
UnitedNationsCentrefor Human Settlements(Habitat),(Nairobi),May1999
TheCityin History
LewisMumford,Penguin Books(Great Britain)1961
General
TheInternational DevelopmentResearchCentre
http://www.idrc.ca
UnitedNationsPrograms
U.N.Centrefor Human Settlement (Habitat)
http://www.unchs.org/ 
SustainableCitiesProgramme
http://www.unchs.org/scp/ 
Best PracticesDatabase
http://www.bestpractices.org/ 
Global Urban Observatory
http://www.urbanobservatory.org
PublicPrivatePartnershipsfor theUrbanEnvironment Programme
http://sdnhq.undp.org/ppp/ 
WorldHealth Organization Center forUrbanHealth/HealthyCitiesProject
http://www.who.dk/healthy-cities
Worldwatch Institute
http://www.worldwatch.org/ 
Mega-CitiesProject
http://www.megacities.org
TheInternational Council for LocalEnvironmental Initiatives
http://www.iclei.org
Friendsof theEarth
http://www.foe.org/ 
TheSierraClub
http://www.sierraclub.org/ 
FoodFirst
http://www.foodfirst.org/ 
Global Action
http://www.globalaction.org/ 
CityFarmer
http://www.cityfarmer.org
Centrefor Human Settlements
http://www.interchange.ubc.ca/chs/ 
National RoundTableon theEnvironmentandtheEconomy
http://www.nrtee-trnee.ca/ 
TheUrban AgricultureNetwork
E
-
MAIL
: urbanag@compuserve.com
INSIDE
Urbanization & ViolenceIDRC& UrbanizationFarming in the CityAgenda 21Resources
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH CENTRENOVEMBER 1999
IDRC
Briefing
 
4
Healthy Cities for the Urban Century
Room to Live
In Mexico City, when children painttheir world, they colour the sky black.
Thisisno political statement, just asimplerepresentation of what they see. And what they seeisan environment plagued by air pollution. Situated in aclosed basin morethan 7,000 feetabovesealevel and surrounded by mountains, thecity isforced to inhaleitsownwaste. Despitegeographical variations, Mexico City isnot alone. Between 1994 and 1996, Chinareportedatleast threemillion deathsfrom urban air pollution. Beijing, Shanghai, Tehran and Calcutta– along with Mexico City - sharethedistinction of being thefiveworst citiesfor exposing childrento polluted air.
BY LOIS SWEET
Room to Live
Healthy Cities for the Urban Century
I
nfact,20percent of theworld’spopulationliveincitieswheretheairisnot fit tobreathe.Combineairpollutionwithwatershortages,toxicwaste,inadequatesewerage,congestion,aproliferationof slums,crimeandsocial alienationandtheprognosisisgrimindeed- especiallyasmassurbanizationisoneof thedistinguishingfeaturesof thenewmillennium.Withtheadvent of the21st century,for thefirst timeinhumanhistory,half theworld’spopulationof morethansixbillionwill belivingincities.Thewaysinwhichtheurbanneedfor food,water,shelter andsocialorganizationaremet will not onlydeterminethecourseof humancivilization,but theveryfutureof thisplanet.Historically,citieshavegeneratedtremendousenergy,ideasandoppor-tunities.It isnoaccident that theLatinwordfor city–civitas–istherootof thewordcivilization;citieshavealwaysbeenthecultural enginesthatadvancedcivilization.But thekindsof environmental andsocial pressuresfacingcitiestodayput their verysustainabilitytothetest.Inorder tosurvive,changesmustbemadeinhowtheyprovidefoodandwater,inhowtheir landisused,howpeopleandgoodsaretransported,andinwastedisposal.Ironically,changeisoccurring.Theproblemisthat,all toooften,it isthewrongkind.Citiesaregrowingbyleapsandbounds.Increasinglyunabletomakealivingonthelandandluredbythehopeof urbanjobsandotheropportunities,millionsof peopleareleavingthecountryandmigratingtocities.Whilethismigrationishappeningeverywhere,someplacesareharderhit thanothers.TheWorldwatchInstitute,anindependent,non-profit,environmental researchorganizationbasedinWashington,D.C.reportsthat,between1990and1995,citiesindevelopingcountriesgrewbymorethan260millionpeople.Thisistheequivalent of another LosAngelesorShanghai beingcreatedeverythreemonths.By2050,cities- mostlyinpoorer countries- will haveabsorbedbetweentwoandfour billionmorepeoplethancurrentlylivetherenow.“Noprecedent existsfor feeding,sheltering,employingor transportingsomanypeopleinsodenseanarea,under suchseverefinancial andenvironmental constraints,” saysJanicePerlman,president of theMega-CitiesProject,atransnational,non-profit networkof organizationscom-mittedtosolvingmega-cityproblems.“Citiesarereachingthelimitsoftheir carryingcapacitytosupport humanlife.”Theenvironmental andsocial problemsof massurbanizationconstituteaglobal challenge.Gonearethedayswhenproblemswerelocalized.Theresourcesthat citiesuse,andthepollutionthat theycreate,extendfarbeyondtheir ownborders.Everyoneisaffectedbythefact that citiesundermineEarth’slifesupport systems.Yet asMaureenO’Neil,president of Canada’sInternationalDevelopment ResearchCentre,pointsout:“Our global villageconnectsussointimatelythat not onlydotheproblemsinoneregionhaveanimpact inquiteseparate,disparateregions–but sodothesolutions.”Citiesarecapableof aligningtheir consumptionwithrealisticneeds,withproducingmoreof their foodandenergy,andof puttingmuchoftheir wastetoproductiveuse.But tremendousobstaclesmust first beovercome–not least of whichistheproliferationof urbanpoverty.KlausTœpfer,ActingExecutiveDirector of theUnitedNationsCentrefor HumanSettlements(Habitat)saysthat “at least 600millionpeopleindevelopingcountriesliveinhousingof suchpoor qualityandwithsuchinadequateprovisionof water,sanitationanddrainage,that their livesandhealthareunder continuousthreat.Theurbanpoor areoftencompelledtoliveinatoxicenvironment inwhichtheonlyavailablewater isbad,high-fat street foodisunhealthy,andwheretheyaresurroundedbycasuallydiscardedtoxicmaterialsandchemicals.Diseasesandviolencerunrampant.TheWorldBankputsurbanpovertylevelsat around25per cent.Yet inseveral of thepoorest nationsinAsiaandAfrica,theytop50per cent.Today,90per cent of LatinAmerica’spoor liveincities.Althoughrichandpoor breathethesameair,theurbanpoor suffermorefromenvironmental degradationandalackof supports.Therich,meanwhile,benefit most fromtheprovisionof urbanservicesinclud-ingwater,sewage,policeprotection,andgreenspaces.Suchblatantinequalitiesnot onlypresent amoral crisis,but createthepotential forcivil unrest andeconomicdisaster.Obviously,eventhebest environmental improvement policieswill notworkunlesstheyareconnectedtopovertyalleviationpolicies.AsAlejandroEncinas,Environment Secretariat of MexicoCity’sCardenasgovernment,putsit:“Social equityandsolidarity,culturalidentity,education,institutional capacitybuilding,andcitizenpartici-pationarekeydeterminantsinachievingsustainableandequitableurbanenvironmental management.”Just ascitiesareincreasinglycharacterizedbyhousingtwocities–onefor therichandonefor thepoor - soistheglobal community.Urbanitesinindustrial countriesconsumetentimesmoreper capitathantheir neigh-
The city first took form as the home of a god:
a place whereeternal valueswere represented and divine possibilitiesrevealed.Thoughthesymbolshave changed, the realitiesbehind them remain.
LEWIS MUMFORD, THECITY IN HISTORY

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