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Main themes and issues

discussed at research
Urban Research Symposium
December 17
Highlights of discussions emerging from 8
roundtable discussions on:
Housing and urban services
Poverty assessment / diagnostics
Incomes and employment
Health, safety and security
In face of 2 bn people added to urban areas, planning is
marginalized. Need to respond to economic and political
realities, be more strategic. How to make planning decisions
more effectivewhat information is needed to convince
decision-makers, make planning relevant to political
Optimal balance between minimalist (guided) and data-
intensive (directivee.g., simulation/modeling scenarios,
cost-benefit implications). Role for regulation as planning
Multi-stakeholder involvementdemand-responsive
Planning, cont.
Capacity building for planningeducating the
planners as well as the clients/users
Data requirements for planning. Identify cost-
effective strategies for data collection and
Issues: Implementation of plans (management)
Priorities: disaster risk management; land use
Chronicle innovative best practice in planning
In urban context, characterized by diversity and density of interactions
among groups.
Many invisible power relations (their logic and incentives) need to be
understood before external intervention changes roles.
Decentralization/devolutionoften rhetoric not reality, imposed without
preparation or understanding of existing situation. Incentives for CG to
share fiscal authority not evident. Need for effective demand for
accountable local govt.
Decentralization seen as often externally-driven; needs to be based on
true democratization; may require constitutional-level reforms to protect
rights of local level.
Inequalities of power relations at local level dont change just with
formal decentralization or with voting. Even elected regimes need
constant citizen input and engagement for legitimate decisions; access to
information, free press to hold elected officials accountable. ****
Governance, cont.
Inclusive governance requires building capacity of citizenry.
Indigenous governance structures and power relations of
citizens groupsthese not necessarily equitable and benign
Local govts lack prestige and capacity compared to central
govt (but are not necessarily more corrupt). Different problems
at different scales (megacities/metropolis with multiple
competing jurisdictions, smaller cities, provincial level).
What contributions can local govts make to improvement of
national policy, e.g. associations of local govts influence
national level
How to develop public entrepreneurship
Some countries lack a school of government, and need
forums for promoting institutional innovations.
(Also a point in Governance discussion: before raise taxes, prove that
you can improve services!)
Two way relationship with finance and planning/regulation--impact
of land policy and regulation on local finance.
Impacts of decentralization on local financeare more funds really
flowing to LGs? More spending at local level?
How actually to get people to finance services, get buy-in for
taxation and user chargesimprove services, innovation in practices
Bridging diversity of experiences (leaders and laggards) as reform
progressesand sharing international experience
How to replace revenues from reducing noxious taxes such as high
transaction tax rates or octroi/cess, more empirical work on revenue
impacts of tax rate reductions.
Comparative Analysis neededCase studies to put context around
financial statistics.
I. Scaling-up urban upgrading:
Understanding the processes that lead to slum
formation and development
Improve current urban upgrading models taking
into account:
i) household contribution to projects and cost
ii) long term funding of projects;
iii) relationship with citywide systems;
iv) institutional arrangements for programming,
planning and implementing projects.
Land, cont.

II. Preventing the formation of slums:

Understanding the performance of citywide

land markets in developing countries

Improve current knowledge on facilitating

access of the poor to land, taking into
account the role of:
i) Land taxation
ii) Land regulation
iii) Governmental budget programs
iv) Property rights
Many topics of research discussed but
agreement on one -- high priority, under-
Effective housing subsidies

Mode of learning about housing

research: need an online network among
researchers where can share ideas and
Research questions:
Need to work on definition/criteria for measuring urban
Dynamics of poverty over time, e.g. how migrants fare
Process questions:
Data are weak, but research could mine existing data
further. Comparative (cross-country, cross-city) databases that
do exist have quality problems. Need to work with govts to
give local policy makers access to data that are available.
Building local capacity for analyzing urban poverty, and
engage local centers of capacity
Exchanges of information on urban poverty.
1.) How to generate jobs? (Bringing jobs to
Government's role in employment generation
programs, versus helping to increase productivity
that leads to more sustainable increased
Seeing the informal sector as a resource that
should be encouraged to thrive and create jobs,
rather than as just an untapped source of revenue.
What research is required to prove this point to
urban decision makers?
Role of infrastructure, including home based
infrastructure, in income generation.
Remittances as a source of capital for
investment in job/income generating activities
Employment and Jobs, cont.
2) How do people find/get access to jobs? (Bringing
people to jobs.)
Role of spatial structure / spatial mismatch
(segregation, transport, etc.). Critical importance of
adopting and selling urban transport strategies that
meet needs of all citizens and are sustainable (efficient
public transport in face of political pressure for
What can governments do to help people acquire skills
that are necessary in a dynamic urban economy?
Role of social networks in finding employment (esp. in
informal sector and informal settlements where poor
are illiterate). Role of "mafias" in allocating jobs /
facilitating job search. Is that always a bad thing, or are
they simply providing a service that the government is
not offering? (Same thing in housing or service
Research on connections between city planning, policy norms
and factors affecting health
Health impacts of good solid waste management (demonstrating
the need for action)also impacts on mitigating disaster risk
How to do social marketing (public communication) of health
hazards and mitigation measuresE.g., Are people sufficiently
aware of escape strategies regarding natural disasters. Why
households dont want to relocate from unhealthful or hazardous
locations, even after disasters
Comparative research on lessons learned from post-disaster
How do high crime levels and insecurity risks affect
development operations, e.g of the Bank

More than policy-relevancy and practicality--Need for

urban research to help make the case for action and policy
reformto convince policy makers and the public.
Communicate knowledge in compelling ways.
Bridge gap between research and practiceuse more
effectively the research that is already done. Focus on what
the numbers should mean to practitioners.
Not just numbers but morphology of urban look at
factors of spatial form, of housing, land patterns, city form
to understand urban dynamics
Cross-cutting demands expressed for:
Better comparative data;
Building local capacity among users of
Working with local centers of knowledge
Sharing of information on best practices
and other knowledge, e.g. through electronic
networks, websites, etc.