25/6/2013 - Local governments are essential to a successful development agenda after 2015
25/6/2013 - Cities Struggle to Maintain Affordable Housing Near Transit
25/6/2013 - UCLG DAL Committee launches the fifth issue of D+ Magazine
24/6/2013 - EC-wide multimodal information and integrated ticketing
24/6/2013 - Finding Room for a Million More New Yorkers
24/6/2013 - European cities need standards for sustainability and resilience
23/6/2013 - Suburban Poor? Are You Sure?
23/6/2013 - From Crisis to Choice: Re-Imagining the Future in Shrinking Cities
22/6/2013 - Auto Parkit: A Parking Revolution Comes to Urban America
22/6/2013 - ECOSTARS Europe nominated for EUSEW Award
22/6/2013 - Dutch High-Speed Rail Dream Turns to Disaster
21/6/2013 - Montreal makes a plea for culture
21/6/2013 - Migrants vital for city growth
21/6/2013 - 4 Measures Could Help Stave Off the Worst Effects of Global Warming
20/6/2013 - ICLEI highlights Urban Food System on World Environment Day
20/6/2013 - Cities lay claim to climate agenda
20/6/2013 - Improving urban services - ADB lends $99.1m to Sindh
19/6/2013 - Detroit Plans Massive Garage Sale
19/6/2013 - Resilient Cities 2013 ends with a call for bottom-up change
19/6/2013 - The Weight of Development: Could Shanghai be Sinking?
18/6/2013 - Federal Court Rules Highway Sponsors Must Study Impacts on Transit, Sprawl
18/6/2013 - Chinese Developer to Fund Creation of London's Third Financial District
18/6/2013 - San Francisco Restoring Urban Watersheds
Local governments are essential to a successful development agenda after 2015
The United Nations are discussing new development goals beyond 2015*. Debates are oriented to the way forward towards new development objectives and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) is actively contributing for these objectives to be adapted to the local situation.
At a meeting held in New York 28 May 2013**, CEMR secretary general Frédéric Vallier, said that municipalities, cities and regions are among the main stakeholders of development. “Health, poverty reduction, equality or education are some of the issues where municipalities and regions have the expertise and responsibility to implement the development agenda beyond 2015”, Vallier stated at the UN headquarters where he met worldwide representatives of local authorities.
CEMR and its global organisation, the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), are pleased that, for the first time, the idea of local governance is taken into account and included in international debates on this subject.
In a message addressed after his nomination to advise UN secretary general on development challenges***, UCLG president and mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbas, highlighted the crucial participation of multilevel authorities in this process: “The collaboration and consensus with local and central governments, non-governmental organisations and our precious citizens, will bring us the most accurate and rapid solutions”.
Cities Struggle to Maintain Affordable Housing Near Transit
In Seattle, and elsewhere, city leaders are struggling to maintain the supply of affordable housing in close proximity to transit stations. Rising rents in areas near stops are displacing lower-income residents.
"When the Central Link light-rail line opened [in Seattle] four years ago, city officials were hoping it would spur economic development in the working-class neighborhood of Rainier Valley," writes Kris Hudson. "The trains have lived up to expectations. Property values have risen, stores have opened, and ridership in the area has nearly tripled since the year after the service began. But there also are signs that rising housing costs near rail stops are starting to push out lower-income residents."
"Now, Seattle and other cities are trying to find ways to foster affordable housing near train stations. In the past couple of years, several have organized multimillion-dollar funds to provide low-interest loans to developers seeking to buy or build affordable housing near the stops. These cities, having spent billions to build light-rail systems, are loath to see those systems price out the residents who are most likely to use public transportation."
UCLG DAL Committee launches the fifth issue of D+ Magazine
The Decentralisation and Local Self-Government Committee launches the fifth issue of D+ Magazine, a tool for the dissemination and discussion of topics related to decentralisation and local governance. The UCLG DAL committee, chaired by the Government of the Province of Barcelona, brings together more than one hundred local governments from all continents. Its main objective is to strengthen decentralisation and local self-government in order to contribute to local good governance and government efficiency in all regions of the world, to ensure the provision of better services to citizens. This latest magazine number includes, among others, an article on urban growth and its financing as a key development issue in Africa and an interview with Mr. Fatallah Oualalou, Mayor of Rabat and President of the Local Finance and Development Committee of UCLG. It also refers to the decentralisation policies implemented in Cambodia and Macedonia, and the reforms that are taking place in Tunisia after the Arab Spring. Moreover, it describes the local dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy. Finally, the “best practice” section presents DeLoG, a development partners working group on decentralisation and local governance. D+ Magazine is published in four languages - Catalan, Castilian, English and French. Copies can also be requested by sending an email to the Secretariat of the Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org.
EC-wide multimodal information and integrated ticketing
DG MOVE organised a workshop on 12 June in Brussels to introduce a new study on EU-wide multimodal information and integrated ticketing
Finding Room for a Million More New Yorkers
New York City's population is expected to grow by one million residents by 2040. But where can housing be built to accommodate all these new residents? A new report from a Columbia University think tank identifies the most promising candidates.
Laura Kusisto looks at the findings of a new report from Columbia University's Center for Urban Real Estate, which recommends the "most logical location for all this new housing: the city's waterfront neighborhoods, including Long Island City and Willets Point in Queens, Red Hook in Brooklyn and the Financial District..."
These recommendations, which "would pack more people into smaller areas than the Bloomberg administration has planned," raise some key questions about improvements that will need to be made to the city's existing infrastructure to accomodate such growth and address the city's growing inequity.
"Whether residents want more apartments in their neighborhoods remains to be seen," notes Kusisto. "In places such as Williamsburg where Bloomberg administration rezonings brought new residents, the result has been subway cars so packed that commuters wait for several trains to pass, lengthy kindergarten wait lists and promised parks that have yet to be delivered. The city has also yet to master the art of making tightly packed blocks of new glass towers feel like neighborhoods, rather than sterile enclaves."
Furthermore, focusing development along the waterfront, "raises serious questions after superstorm Sandy, when residents in Lower Manhattan, Long Island City and Red Hook were out of their homes for weeks or months."
European cities need standards for sustainability and resilience
Experts clarified the relation between the concept of sustainability and resilience at the resilience at the Open European Day.
Could a session be more complete and thorough? It's difficult to imagine.
Bernard Leservoisier for the Afnor Group pointed out the key questions around the main topics of the urban adaptation: resilience and sustainability. One point in common, they said, is that these concepts are not absolutely the same thing - they are interdependent.
João Dinis from Cascais city made an interesting introduction to explain the difference between these two concepts: "Sustainability is the way to use resources for a safe future at different levels: social, economic and environmental; on the other hand, resilience is a recent concept that concerns building materials, but means creating stronger cities using better materials. As we can see, there is a direct connection and both are related to cities where people live and they are at the same time the final roots of climate change issues and the most contributors to emissions".
"Climate change is not the only enemy, " remarked André Muller from the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban affairs and Spatial Development: "Cities have to be resilient against the economic changes that depend on climate motes and both have social consequences".
The goal is to be sustainable and to be resilient. But how and why?
Even if it is easy now thinking about the goals such as becoming more efficient for a better future life and, not less important, being more competitive, the real challenge is thinking about how, in political and economic words.
Wolfgang Teubner from the ICLEI Europe and Bern Hoermann from Sheffield city used a key word: investment.
"Thinking on a standardization of content and tools. It's not a cost but a responsibility and an indispensable investment for ourselves and for all the future generations".
Nico Tillie, City of Rotterdam concluded: "We are in a competition with time so we need to step up to design new cities in the long run. "
Report by Iole Vicinanza, communications assistant at ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
Suburban Poor? Are You Sure?
Brookings Institute's “Confronting Suburban Poverty” is generating a lot of buzz. Community development leaders and planners took to Rooflines to voice opinions and critiques of the book, moving its authors to submit a response that you must read.
Confronting Suburban Poverty in America was released a few weeks ago, and the Internet has been abuzz with responses to it. One thing many agree with authors Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube on is that suburban poverty is on the rise. Actually, it's exploded significantly over recent years, and federal policies are not equipped to meet the growing challenges.
On Rooflines, the Shelterforce blog, planning professor J. Rosie Tighe gave some praise to the book, noting that it does stress the importance of the perception of poverty in this country in shaping how it's addressed. Joe Kreisberg, offered a critique of the book that included its flawed definition of "suburban" and assertion that federal anti-poverty programs to date have been too "place based".
So what do the authors have to say about all of this? Well, for one, defining "suburbs" was a difficult task that they confronted carefully, being sure to reflect on the range of experiences and diversity among such locales. Interested in what else they had to say? Head over to the growing conversation on Rooflines.
From Crisis to Choice: Re-Imagining the Future in Shrinking Cities
How to regenerate shrinking cities? This is the key challenge tackled by the paper "From crisis to choice: re-imagining the future in shrinking cities"part of a series of six new URBACT thematic reports "Cities of Tomorrow: Action Today". Written by Dr Hans Schlappa and Professor William J V Neill, this report calls for a new realism with regard to urban regeneration in areas affected by socioeconomic decline, and for a paradigm shift with regard to approaches towards regenerating cities affected by shrinkage.
Auto Parkit: A Parking Revolution Comes to Urban America
Christopher Alan, founder of Auto Parkit, the only automated parking company in the US competitive with traditional parking, spoke with The Planning Report about how his experience as a real estate developer in LA led to a parking opportunity.
Though automated parking structures are not exactly new, San Fernando Valley residential development The Savannahs is the first in Southern California to boast such a facility. The project was the brainchild of LA real estate developer Christopher Alan, who partnered his firm, Dasher Lawless, where he is president, with Omron Automation & Safety, Design Systems Inc., SEW Eurodrive, ConXtech, and others, to create Auto Parkit, the only automated parking company in the nation competitive with traditional parking.
Alan details how his scalable, operator-free, fully-automated, high-density parking system and its potential to reduce emissions and increase safety have drawn interest already. Unlike most automated parking companies, which tend to focus on engineering innovations, Auto Parkit has placed an emphasis on reliability and lifespan. While it may be feasible to replace a cell phone each time a new product is released, automated parking requires fixed costs and investment. In this way, a developer will only be willing to invest if he knows the product is reliable and hassle free.
ECOSTARS Europe nominated for EUSEW Award
Polis members CDV, Edinburgh and Rotterdam have set up the ECOSTARS fleet recognition scheme, and have been nominated for the Sustainable Energy Europe (SEE) Award. The Award recognises outstanding projects in energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and clean transport.
Dutch High-Speed Rail Dream Turns to Disaster
A multi-billion dollar project to expand high-speed rail service between Amsterdam and Brussels has been derailed by malfunctioning trains, costing the head of the Dutch national rail company his job and threatening an international imbroglio.
Only a month after it began operations late last year, the Netherlands had to suspend its Fyra high-speed service due to a raft of technical problems with V250 trains bought from an Italian company - AnsaldoBreda. Now, after months of trying to fix the problematic trains, the Dutch have ditched them, and are asking for their money back.
"The failure of the Fyra high-speed line has led to threats of legal action between the railway company and the manufacturer, and the dispute could drag in the Dutch, Belgian and Italian governments," report Matt Steinglass and Giulia Segreti in The Financial Times. "The cancellation of the Fyra order calls into question what the Dutch plan to do with their HSL-Zuid high-speed line, built by the state from 2000-09 at a cost of €6.4bn," they add.
While finding another manufacturer to provide new trains is one option, it could take years to complete the process.
Montreal makes a plea for culture
Before the Members of the United Nations, the Ville de Montréal today made an important plea for culture as an indispensable pillar of development. The presentation was part of a debate on culture and development convened in New York by the President of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremić, in the presence of Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon.
On behalf of all members of the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG),and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Ville de Montréal and responsible for culture, heritage and design, as well as Co-Chair of the UCLG's Committee on Culture, Élaine Ayotte urged the UN General Assembly to include a goal specifically related to culture in its Agenda for Post-2015 Development. She also appealed for greater cooperation between policymakers involved in culture and development.
Migrants vital for city growth
Cao Wei, 34, feels lucky to have his son's company.
His 7-year-old son always does his homework in the lobby of the building where his father works as a gatekeeper since the 8-sq-m basement is too small for a desk.
High housing prices in Beijing dwarf his and his wife's income, about 3,500 yuan ($563) per month.
"I don't expect to buy an apartment in Beijing, but we don't want to move back either. We plan to live in Zhengzhou (capital city of Central China's Henan province) after my son goes to college. I have two sisters there," Cao said.
His son goes to a public primary school nearby, but Cao wonders if the capital city will relax its education policy to allow his son to attend the university entrance exam.
4 Measures Could Help Stave Off the Worst Effects of Global Warming
A new report from the International Energy Agency has some sobering news about the planet's record setting carbon emissions. But it also identifies four policy recommendations that could help stave off warming in excess of the dreaded 2°C mark.
"For anyone who’s in favor of preventing the planet from heating up, there’s bad news and good news in the latest big report from the International Energy Agency," says Brad Plumer. "First, the somber stuff: Global carbon-dioxide emissions from energy reached a record high in 2012, after rising 1.4 percent over the past year."
However, the IEA "still thinks it’s technically possible for the world to cut emissions by 8 percent by 2020 and stay on track for its declared goal of keeping global warming below 2°C," adds Plumer. As Steven Mufson explains, the report urged global leaders to "implement aggressive energy-efficiency measures; limit the output of inefficient coal plants and mandate that all future coal plants be highly efficient supercritical ones; reduce the release of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) in oil and gas operations; and phase out fossil-fuel subsidies."
"The idea is that these four measures — which don’t require any newfangled or unproven technologies — would buy the world some time while leaders hashed out an international climate treaty and figured out how to make deeper emissions cuts in the future in order to stay under that 2°C mark," says Plumer.
ICLEI highlights Urban Food System on World Environment Day
Every year on 5 June, the World Environment Day is celebrated worldwide to raise global awareness of the need to take positive action and make political commitment in protecting our environment. This year, the theme is ‘Think.Eat.Save’. With the world’s annual food waste reaching to 1.3 billion tones – equivalent to the amount of food produced in sub-Saharan Africa, this UN’s anti-food waste and food loss campaign aims at promoting the reduction of global foodprint.
To mark the day, ICLEI captures experts’ views on the topic of Urban Food System– one of the key features of Resilient Cities 2013 – the 4th Global Forum on Urban Adaptation and Resilience just concluded on 2 June 2013.
Cities lay claim to climate agenda
EUROCITIES pressing for more visibility in the fight against climate change
Our member cities are pressing for a stronger and more visible role at the COP 19 conference and associated events later this year. EUROCITIES and Warsaw have issued a joint press release underlining the work that cities are doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and drive sustainable green growth and employment. The press release points to cities deserving greater recognition and support from national governments for their role in combatting climate change.
Today three out of four people in Europe live in cities, and global projections for 2030 are that six out of every ten people will live in an urban environment. European cities account for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. Clearly European and global climate targets will not be met without action by and with city governments, businesses, NGOs and citizens. “The biggest share of energy savings and CO2 reductions on the way to 2050 will be made in our cities”, as Sir Albert Bore, chair of EUROCITIES Environment Forum and Leader of Birmingham City Council, pointed out.
The increased risk of flooding is one of many effects resulting from changed weather conditions that cities have to adapt to. But cities are well aware of the challenge, with the president of EUROCITIES, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, stating: “European cities are already taking action.” A number of our member cities already have climate adaptation strategies in place that involve issues such as water management or green infrastructure for climate adaptation.
To read more about EUROCITIES’ work on tackling climate change, please click here.
Improving urban services - ADB lends $99.1m to Sindh
Asian Development Bank has agreed to lend $99.1 million to improve water supply, sanitation and solid waste management facilitates in eight north Sindh cities. It aims to support urban services for more than 6m residents of Jacobabad, Ghotki, Khairpur, Larkana, New Sukkur, Rohri, Shikarpur and Sukkur.
ADB has completed Tranche 1 of the program in these cities which need funds for infrastructure development. The cities are experiencing rapid population growth and severe deficit of reliable urban infrastructure resulting in major health and hygiene problems.
North Sindh Urban Services Corporation Ltd (NSUSC) will run the project over 2013-17 in coordination with Planning & Development Department.
Total funds for SCIIP 2 are $139.8m of which two ADB loans will finance $99.1m. These are: $74m from ADB’s special funds and $25.1m from ADB’s ordinary resources. G/o Pakistan will provide $40.7 m.
Tranche 1 has successfully introduced local government owned and professionally managed independent urban utility company to address the mounting water supply and sanitation challenges.
It will promote citizen participation and support for sustainability and efficiency of the urban services. SCIIP 2 also supports institutional reforms to provide investments into urban services and infrastructure and develop capacities of new institutions.
Detroit Plans Massive Garage Sale
The Detroit Zoo's 'healthy, breeding female giraffe'? A classic Ford XD Cobra prototype? Belle Isle? Mark Stryker and John Gallagher look at some of the city-owned assets that could be sold to help pay off the city's monstrous debt.
"If everything is indeed on the table when it comes to turning Detroit’s assets into dollars, then the possibilities are nearly endless, bewildering and sometimes bizarre," write Stryker and Gallagher.
"Detroit is teetering on the brink of the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. The city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, and his team have said they want to evaluate everything owned by the city as they begin negotiations with creditors in the face of $15 billion to $17 billion in debt and future pension obligations."
"Orr already created a tsunami of controversy when he acknowledged late last month that billions of dollars worth of art owned by the city and housed at the Detroit Institute of Arts were vulnerable to creditors. But he potentially could sell or privatize numerous other city assets, too, from public parks to operations of the city’s Water and Sewerage Department to sundry treasures found in some of Detroit’s other cultural institutions."
"It’s important to note that selling individual assets won’t help much if Orr cannot bring city revenues and city expenses into line," add Stryker and Gallagher. "If city spending continues to outstrip revenues from taxes and other sources, selling DIA artwork — or zebras — merely would put off the day of reckoning for a few more months or years."
Resilient Cities 2013 ends with a call for bottom-up change
"Integrated solutions was the answer at Resilient Cities 2013. How should cities move towards adaptation and resilience to climate change was the question [...]
Every year, since 2009, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, with the City of Bonn, and other partners has been organizing the Resilient Cities Congress in Bonn, Germany. The Congress brings together local government leaders and climate adaptation experts from around the world. It serves as the meeting ground for innovative ideas, strategies for resilient urban planning and knowledge sharing. Sessions and forums were convened with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Rockefeller Foundation and Siemens. Resilient Cities 2013 saw 528 participants, among whom there were 117 local government representatives from 60 cities.
The Weight of Development: Could Shanghai be Sinking?
Shanghai and the Pudong District in particular have seen unprecedented development over the past 25 years. The soil the city is built upon, however, has begun to subside recently.
Sophie Plottel discusses the soil subsidence taking place in Shanghai due to the rapid development that has taken place over the past 25 years. The Pudong District is now home to more than 5 million people and has a density of over 4,000 people per square kilometer. That kind of intense development has resulted in the city sinking at a rate of 1.5 centimeters per year.
Federal Court Rules Highway Sponsors Must Study Impacts on Transit, Sprawl
The U.S. District Court in Milwaukee has ruled that the Federal Highway Administration and Wisconsin Department of Transportation cannot enlarge a major urban freeway connection without further study of the project's impacts on transit-dependent populations and on regional suburban sprawl. The court stated that the agencies must study the impact of "continuing to expand highway capacity in the region while transit capacity declines." The agencies also must examine the potential regional effects of highway expansion on suburban sprawl.
Chinese Developer to Fund Creation of London's Third Financial District
A $1.5 billion deal between London Mayor Boris Johnson and a private Chinese Developer will fund the creation of an international business district at the city's Royal Albert Docks. Terry Farrell & Partners will complete the project's master plan.
"In the early 1900’s the Royal Albert Docks, located to the east of the city of London, served as London’s most prominent source of international trade and commerce," writes Vincenza Di Maggio. "Now the 130-year-old docks, which over the years have been closed to commercial traffic and only used for watersports, will be transformed into London’s third booming financial district. Terry Farrell & Partners have been commissioned to carry out the complex master plan of the 35-acre site."
"The mixed-use development, which is scheduled for completion by the year 2022, will house over 3.2 million square feet of office, retail, and leisure space and will become the largest financial development in the UK, creating over 20,000 full time jobs, and contributing almost $9 billion to the British economy."
San Francisco Restoring Urban Watersheds
San Francisco is pursuing the first phase of its sewer system upgrade — a twenty year, $6 billion capital program to improve seismic reliability and sustainability of the system. About $400 million of this expenditure is currently planned for green infrastructure. The city is planning to select alternatives using a "triple bottom line" evaluation, which assesses a project on financial, social, and environmental outcomes.