Towards less ecologically damaging patterns of urban development


Most of the growth in the world’s population over the next 20 years will be in urban centres in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These urban centres will also house most of the growth in industrial production and much of the growth in greenhouse gas emissions. How this urban growth is planned for, managed and governed has enormous implications for whether developmental goals are met and whether the potentially catastrophic implications of climate change can be avoided. Yet most international agencies ignore urban development. Most of the plans of city politicians and civil servants in Africa and Asia address neither the developmental concerns of their lower-income groups nor local or global environmental concerns. Meanwhile, most discussions of how to “green” cities fail to engage with the political and institutional mechanisms needed to implement them and with the developmental needs of poorer groups. Urban growth also needs to be made more climate resilient, to cope with expected increases in storms and floods, as well as help reduce, rather than increase, greenhouse gas emissions.

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