30/6/2015 - People power: the secret to Montreal's success as a bike-friendly city
30/6/2015 - “City Smell” Mappers Want Urban Planners to Use Their Noses
29/6/2015 - EU and India to partner on World Cities project
29/6/2015 - The European Commission consults cities on the future EU urban agenda
28/6/2015 - EVIDENCE to support 5 cities on sustainable mobility measures
28/6/2015 - Innovating in City Learning. The Inside Story of the first URBACT City Festival
27/6/2015 - Responsible Tourism: How to Preserve the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg
27/6/2015 - Google Creates Company to Improve Cities
26/6/2015 - How Greening Our Streets Can Also Make Them More Resilient to Extreme Weather
26/6/2015 - Stakeholder consultation on EU guidelines on urban logistics
26/6/2015 - Financing the New Urban Agenda
25/6/2015 - Living near more trees linked to less antidepressant prescriptions
25/6/2015 - Access City Award 2016
25/6/2015 - What if mayors ruled the world ?
24/6/2015 - “Live the City” ends in Buenos Aires
24/6/2015 - Cities and regions: key actors for the management of migration and territorial cohesion
24/6/2015 - 10 Must-Read Books for Urbanists on Cities, Race and Public Space
23/6/2015 - Technology Determined Cities or Strategic Design for Tomorrow?
23/6/2015 - EBSF_2 Project to drive innovation in bus systems
23/6/2015 - Pope to Urban Planners: Build Better Cities
22/6/2015 - Solidarity is a part of local DNA and must guide the international agenda
21/6/2015 - New phase of urbanisation within metropolitan areas — Helsinki lagging behind Stockholm
20/6/2015 - Urban Vision Central Europe Small Town 2020
20/6/2015 - Breathe Easier
19/6/2015 - Singapore looks underground for room to grow
19/6/2015 - The Real Problem With America’s Inner Cities
19/6/2015 - What does “urban” mean?
18/6/2015 - Cities commit to cut over 1 billion ton of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020
18/6/2015 - ELMO: Estonia's innovative national quick-charging EV network
18/6/2015 - Compelling Evidence That Wider Lanes Make City Streets More Dangerous
17/6/2015 - Three proposals for an urban agenda that fits the diversity on the ground
17/6/2015 - Will your city be the next European Green Capital?
17/6/2015 - Milan adds 1 000 e-bikes to city bike scheme
16/6/2015 - How cities are starting to turn back decades of creeping urban blight
16/6/2015 - New issue of "Thinking Cities" released!
16/6/2015 - Five EU cities gather under the CEPPI project to look for innovative energy solutions
15/6/2015 - Results of the EU stakeholders consultation regarding the EU urban agenda
15/6/2015 - Consultation reports on the role of intermediary, metropolitan and peripheral cities in the Global Agenda
15/6/2015 - Who Is the Smart City for?
14/6/2015 - The role of local governments is crucial in human rights enhancement
14/6/2015 - Crowdfunding is the Wild West for civic initiatives
13/6/2015 - Building cities for citizens: Metropolis analyses how to Live the City
13/6/2015 - The ‘pedestrianization’ of New York’s Times Square is well afoot
12/6/2015 - Start a Citizen Planning Academy in Your Town
12/6/2015 - Urban freight distribution: SMILE information guide gathers energy-efficient best practices
12/6/2015 - Young People and Placemaking: Engaging Youth to Create Community Places
11/6/2015 - Future Cities Africa: New Thinking for Long-term Transformation
11/6/2015 - Race and Justice Should be Considered in Urban Design
11/6/2015 - EU needs to realise full potential of its cities
10/6/2015 - Cities with physically active residents more productive as well as healthier
10/6/2015 - The Rise of China’s Inland Cities
10/6/2015 - Six Chinese cities team on smog reduction
9/6/2015 - California Cities and the Innovation Economy
9/6/2015 - When Cities and Suburbs Work Together
9/6/2015 - Brussels plans 10 000 parking places on city fringe
8/6/2015 - Asian cities consider floating cities in the wake of rising sea levels
8/6/2015 - End of the car age: how cities are outgrowing the automobile
8/6/2015 - Partners launch Global Exchange Platform on National Urban Policies
7/6/2015 - An architectural tour of … parklets?
7/6/2015 - The 10 States With the Best Bike Policy Tend to Have One Thing in Common
7/6/2015 - Bikelanes protecting sidewalks
6/6/2015 - Botkyrka: Anti-rumours cafés
6/6/2015 - The Bridge and the City - A universal love story
6/6/2015 - Which is the healthiest city in the US?
5/6/2015 - The world’s cities: the “sweet spot” of climate change
5/6/2015 - How Adelaide revitalized itself through ‘placemaking’
5/6/2015 - MOLE underground freight transport tested in UK
4/6/2015 - Nearly quarter of older urban Spaniards face mobility problems
4/6/2015 - Do Urban Growth Boundaries Work?
4/6/2015 - Communication for integration (C4i): about us
4/6/2015 - Awards for cities promoting road safety
3/6/2015 - Why does Barclays want to build a city in the middle of the New Mexico desert?
3/6/2015 - The real challenge for cities
3/6/2015 - Culture in Sustainable Cities: Call to participation in the Pilot Cities Programme 2015-2017
2/6/2015 - Cities protecting the rights of people with disabilities
2/6/2015 - Dubai to pilot ITU performance indicators
2/6/2015 - The day when roads will harness solar energy is drawing near
2/6/2015 - Urbanisation: our biggest challenge and our greatest opportunity
1/6/2015 - Inflection point for China’s mass migration to cities
1/6/2015 - Bike share users are mostly rich and white.
1/6/2015 - Walking Visionaries Awards
1/6/2015 - River Cities Offer Lessons on How to Adapt
People power: the secret to Montreal's success as a bike-friendly city
When it comes to cycling Montreal has a few undeniable drawbacks. For a start, it’s hilly, the streets rising gradually from the riverside to Mont Royal, a tree-lined peak which reaches eye level with the tops of the city centre skyscrapers. And then there’s the winter, with several months of snow and constant below-zero temperatures, leaving the roads rutted and cracked.
But on a still-tepid morning in early summer the cyclists are nonetheless massing in the city’s Jeanne-Mance Park. Lots of them – about 30,000, in fact. Some are dressed in Lycra with lightweight road bikes, but the majority are wearing everyday clothes, many with children, either riding their own tiny machines or on one-wheeled add-ons to a parent’s bike, even toddlers strapped into trailers.
It is the start of the Tour de L’Île, an annual mass ride with routes of anything from 18 to 60 miles through streets closed to vehicle traffic for the day. It is both a celebration of Montreal’s unlikely bike culture and a yearly reminder to its politicians and officials of how numerous and varied is the local two-wheeled population.
“City Smell” Mappers Want Urban Planners to Use Their Noses
There are many ways to map a city: a basic street map, a neighborhood breakdown, by demographics. Now, thanks to researchers from the academic and technology worlds (Yahoo), we have something a bit different: the smell map.
The authors of “Smelly Maps: The Digital Life of Urban Smellscapes” used their own noses, crowdsourcing and social media to create odor-centric maps of cities.
EU and India to partner on World Cities project
Three Indian cities are being paired with three European cities to promote working relations and policies on urban innovation and green technologies.
Launched in Mumbai during the Conference on Sustainable Urbanisation and World Cities, the European Union backed World Cities project, will also strengthen market opportunities and job creation while pursuing the sustainable economic development of the six cities.
The European Commission consults cities on the future EU urban agenda
The European Commission organised a “Cities Forum” on 2 June in Brussels to consult representatives of European cities and civil society on the future urban agenda of the European Union. Represented by Véronique Ketelaer, Project Manager, Efus took part in this meeting together with some 500 people including several MEPs as well as representatives of the European Commission, of numerous non governmental organisations and of local authorities.
The Commission has not yet defined its priorities concerning urban and territorial development. It conducted a public consultation among stakeholders throughout Europe prior to organising the Cities Forum.
EVIDENCE to support 5 cities on sustainable mobility measures
The EVIDENCE project is looking for five cities from the new EU member state to test the findings from the project over a two year period.
The pilot cities should intend to develop sustainable urban mobility measures as part of a wider transport strategy. Ideally applicant cities would have been part of previous or ongoing EU projects such as CH4LLENGE, BUMP, Poly-SUMP, ENDURANCE, TIDE, etc. The EVIDENCE project will support cities in the 11 New Member States of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria.
Innovating in City Learning. The Inside Story of the first URBACT City Festival
The recent URBACT City Festival, that took place in Riga from 6-8 May, aimed to inspire urban futures through innovative exchange and learning. One of the URBACT programme’s core objectives is to support cities in their capacity to develop and implement integrated urban strategies and actions. Events like the City Festival form one part of an overall programme strategy, along with city networks, capitalisation of urban knowledge and other initiatives (Summer Universities, training seminars in the 29 member states or training schemes for elected representatives all over Europe).
Responsible Tourism: How to Preserve the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg
Where did you go on your last vacation? Was it rewarding and satisfying? Would you recommend it to a friend? Did the destination meet your expectations? Or were you disappointed? Did traffic congestion, dirty air, crowded beaches, slipshod service or excessive commercialism leave you feeling frustrated and cheated?
Tourism is big business. Americans spend more than $800 billion a year on travel and recreational pursuits away from home. Tourism is one of the three largest industries in every American state and a critical factor in the world economy.
Google Creates Company to Improve Cities
If Google were to solve urban problems as it solves digital ones, would the world be safer?
Get ready because this is precisely the ambition of the Internet giant, which has just announced a new company that will work at the intersection of the digital and the real world. Sidewalk Labs has been created with the mission to improve life in cities through technology.
New technologies have completely changed the world of business, access to information, education, and lifestyles – there are digital resources and applications for just about everything. However, major urban challenges such as mobility, efficient transport, cost of living, use of natural resources and government efficiency have so far proven more difficult to resolve.
How Greening Our Streets Can Also Make Them More Resilient to Extreme Weather
In the 21st century, our most important public spaces need to be not only complete, hospitable and beautiful but also green in an ecological sense. They need to be places of resilience where nature is respected.
Stakeholder consultation on EU guidelines on urban logistics
In preparation of a European Commission non-binding guidance on urban logistics, a stakeholder consultation is carried out via an online questionnaire. The deadline to share your views is 10 July.
Financing the New Urban Agenda
Municipal financing offers long-term opportunities to implement the new Sustainable Development Goals. But international negotiations, even in their final stages, have yet to recognize this.
We are at last in the final stretch of a number of processes that will define how we approach the key challenges of the 21st century, one of which is the world’s increasingly fast urbanization.
It has been a long road from the governmental expert meeting that took place in Solo, Indonesia, in July 2011. That was when Colombia and Guatemala first proposed that the outcome of Rio+20 — the major U.?N. conference that would take place in 2012 — should be a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Living near more trees linked to less antidepressant prescriptions
Most people are well-aware that trees help clean air by filtering out pollutants and toxins. There are numerous beneficial environmental effects that are derived from trees. Recently, researchers have been investigating whether trees are capable of improving the mental health of humans. According to new research, the number of trees in your neighborhood may have some influence over your mental health.
Access City Award 2016
An award for cities accessible to everyone
European cities are invited to participate in the sixth edition of the Access City Award.
This European prize recognises outstanding efforts by cities to remove the too many barriers that people with disabilities and older people still face in their daily life: access to public transportation and public information or housing and living independently.
European cities over 50 000 inhabitants are invited to present their projects by 10 September 2015 (midnight Brussels time)
Awards will be handed out to five EU cities at a ceremony taking place during the annual European Day of people with disabilities conference in Brussels on 7 December 2015. There will be first, second and third prize plus two special mentions on access to work and accessible smart cities.
What if mayors ruled the world ?
While Efus has been striving for years to make the voice of cities heard and to strengthen their capacity for action in response to the great number of issues they are directly confronted with, the idea according to which cities are in many areas the most efficient level of governance is gaining ground.
In this respect, the initiative for the creation of a “Global Parliament of Mayors” launched by Benjamin Barber, an American professor of political science, has been received with great interest by local authorities around the world. Efus, represented by Elizabeth Johnston, attended on 2 March in London the kick-off meeting of the Global Parliament of Mayors, which will be formally constituted in 2016.
“Live the City” ends in Buenos Aires
“Live the City”, the METROPOLIS Annual Meeting held in Buenos Aires, ended on 21 May and marked a milestone in our Association’s history. At the conclusion of its 30th anniversary celebrations, METROPOLIS was able to join the expressive presence of its leading political representatives with an unprecedented joining of discussions and specific experiences in urban management.
The event drew 623 accredited participants from 151 organizations in 63 cities (from 37 countries) across the world. It involved the participation of 31 delegations with political and technical representatives of METROPOLIS members, including top-level political representatives (mayors, governors and other city leaders) from 10 metropolises: Berlin, Buenos Aires, Île-de-France, Johannesburg, Karaj, Montevideo, Montreal, Porto Alegre, Santiago de Chile Metropolitan Region and Rosario. Other senior political representatives (deputy mayors, secretaries, ministers, councilors and their counterparts) from 16 cities were also actively engaged.
Cities and regions: key actors for the management of migration and territorial cohesion
UCLG is a partner of the project "Mediterranean City-to-City Migration Profiles and Dialogue", launched and led by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), and co-financed by the European Commission, with the involvement of UN-Habitat. The project's main objective is to contribute to and promote the integration of migrants at local level, especially on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, with a focus on access to human rights.
The management of migratory flows is not only a problem faced by national and international authorities, but also by local and regional authorities. Indeed, the direct impact of migration is felt by local governments, which have to manage cohabitation, as well as the inclusion and integration of migrants at both social and economic levels.
10 Must-Read Books for Urbanists on Cities, Race and Public Space
Here are some suggestions for summer reading for urbanists, planning professionals and those with an interest in city dynamics. The writers of these recommended 10 works of nonfiction grapple with the dissonance and the harmonious elements of cities as they explore the meeting place between public and private in modern cities.
Technology Determined Cities or Strategic Design for Tomorrow?
Imagine if planners had more knowledge about cars long before automobile traffic was a common issue. Imagine if they better understood chemistry or environmental science. How could that have changed the transit landscape? Could today's problem of automobile pollution or over-dependency on oil been curbed at the outset? Maybe, maybe not, but urban planners can change the future if they change their relationship to technology and the processes by which technologies are created.
EBSF_2 Project to drive innovation in bus systems
UITP hosted the launch of EBSF_2 project (European Bus System of the Future 2) during its World Congress & Exhibition in Milan, a project that will continue the drive for bus system innovation that began under the first EBSF project
Pope to Urban Planners: Build Better Cities
Pope Francis called for an extraordinary global response to climate change this week in his much-anticipated encyclical. But the first pope from the developing world also has a message for urban planners: Build better neighborhoods for the poor. And while you’re at it, find a way to integrate the natural world in city design. “We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature,” he writes in Laudato Si. It’s subtitled “Our Care for Our Common Home.”
Cities have become unhealthy places for human beings — not only because of toxic emissions, but also because of poor transportation, visual pollution, congestion, social exclusion, violence, noise and even “the loss of identity.” And inequality looms over it all.
Solidarity is a part of local DNA and must guide the international agenda
Local and regional governments in Porto Alegre commit to strengthening their voice in international processes.
Around 200 representatives of local and regional governments from over 35 countries and all world continents participated in the UCLG Executive Bureau meetings that took place between 10 and 12 June 2015 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, focusing on the Post-2015 development programme and the New Urban Agenda.
New phase of urbanisation within metropolitan areas — Helsinki lagging behind Stockholm
A recent study on the metropolitan areas of Helsinki and Stockholm indicates that the urban form in the two regions has developed partially in different directions during the past 20 years. Stockholm has managed to channel the growth of the metropolitan area more inwards, densifying the inner areas of the city region. In the Helsinki region, growth has occurred during the 2000s mainly in the peri-urban areas and the suburban car dependent zones.
“In Helsinki, the new phase of expansion in the inner city did not properly take off until 2008, when the new harbour released the old inner city harbour areas for new land-uses", researcher Panu Söderström explains. "In Stockholm the orbital light rail line Tvärbanan has boosted the growth around the inner city since 2000 and the old industrial areas have been transforming to new housing and workplace areas", he continues.
Urban Vision Central Europe Small Town 2020
The ‘Europe 2020’ strategy mobilizes competitiveness, productivity, growth, social cohesion and economic convergence. The key to its success is exploiting the potential of local resources. In the handbook “Urban Vision Central Europe Small Town 2020” the project "QUALIST-Improving quality of life in small town” identifies the numerous incentives and measurements for revitalisation with local priorities of small towns in Central Europe.
Six ways to reduce the impacts of air pollution on people riding bicycles.
People riding bicycles in lanes directly adjacent to vehicles are exposed to higher levels of traffic-related air pollution than those riding on separated lanes or paths. Yet pollution exposure does not directly influence how we plan and design bicycle facilities.
Singapore looks underground for room to grow
Pipes and storage tanks cover most of heavily guarded Jurong Island, the heart of Singapore’s petrochemical industry. Singapore does not produce a single drop of oil, but the refineries owned by Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and others on the man-made island account for about one-third of the city-state’s manufacturing output.
Land for the industry to grow on Jurong’s 12 square miles (31 square kilometers) is limited. So Singapore has begun looking underground for room to expand. About 500 feet (150 meters) down, deep beneath the seafloor, lies the recently opened Jurong Rock Caverns. It’s a massive storage hub for liquid hydrocarbons, as tall as a nine-story building and with several miles of tunnels.
The Real Problem With America’s Inner Cities
THE recent unrest in Baltimore raises complex and confounding questions, and in response many people have attempted to define the problem solely in terms of insurgent American racism and violent police behavior.
But that is a gross oversimplification. America is not reverting to earlier racist patterns, and calling for a national conversation on race is a cliché that evades the real problem we now face: on one hand, a vicious tangle of concentrated poverty, disconnected youth and a culture of violence among a small but destructive minority in the inner cities; and, on the other hand, of out-of-control law-enforcement practices abetted by a police culture that prioritizes racial profiling and violent constraint.
What does “urban” mean?
Anyone reading this blog is likely to have heard the statistic that ‘over half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas’. This has been the standard opening line of reports and presentations about urbanization since this milestone was supposedly reached in 2008. But what does it really mean?
In everyday usage, terms related to human settlements have vague, shifting meanings. What one person might describe as a small ‘city’ might be a ‘town’ or ‘village’ for someone else; one person’s ‘megacity’ might be a cluster of cities from a different perspective. Similarly, we can usually identify areas that are clearly within a city and others that are outside it, but there is usually a peri-urban area of intermediate density that usually lies between the two, making it hard to define a clear city limit. Formal administrative boundaries may have historic or political meaning, but are rarely aligned with the physical or economic extents of the urban area.
Cities commit to cut over 1 billion ton of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020
Commitments from local and subnational governments equal total reduction achieved by European Union between 1990 and 2012
New data published in the carbonn Climate Registry: Digest 2014-2015 shows that more local and subnational governments have pledged to commit to measurable, reportable, verifiable (MRV) action on climate change. This latest compilation based on bottom-up reporting demonstrates the potential of ambitious and transparent climate action and provides an evidence base for negotiators to engage local and subnational governments as key actors in the new climate regime. ICLEI has mobilized Mayors and representatives of the cities of Rajkot, Bonn, Bogor, the Province of Barcelona, Tshwane, Dakar, Recife and Paris to deliver this message at the ongoing UN Bonn Climate Conference where nations are currently negotiating the draft pre-agreement to be adopted in Paris in December 2015.
ELMO: Estonia's innovative national quick-charging EV network
In 2011 Estonia launched an ambitious, nationwide e-mobility program to promote the use of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country. The program involved making available grants for citizens to buy EVs; awareness-raising campaigns; an EV car-sharing project; and providing EVs for public social workers.
However, what was needed to bind these projects and make the program a success was a proper charging infrastructure. So in March 2011, Estonia established ELMO, an innovative countrywide network of quick-chargers – the first of its kind in the world.
Compelling Evidence That Wider Lanes Make City Streets More Dangerous
The “forgiving highway” approach to traffic engineering holds that wider is safer when it comes to street design. After decades of adherence to these standards, American cities are now criss-crossed by streets with 12-foot wide lanes. As Walkable City author Jeff Speck argued in CityLab last year, this is actually terrible for public safety and the pedestrian environment.
A new study reinforces the argument that cities need to reconsider lane widths and redesign streets accordingly. In a paper to be presented at the Canadian Institute of Traffic Engineers annual conference, author Dewan Masud Karim presents hard evidence that wider lanes increase risk on city streets.
Three proposals for an urban agenda that fits the diversity on the ground
The EU urban agenda is an opportunity to better involve local governments in the EU decision making process and to best match their priorities. This is one of the messages CEMR addressed during the European Cities Forum on “An urban agenda for Europe”, organised by the European Commission, on 2 June 2015.
Will your city be the next European Green Capital?
The Commission has launched the search for the 2018 European Green Capital. Interested? What follows is for you.
The award is given to a European city that has demonstrated a well-established record of achieving high environmental standards and is committed to ongoing and ambitious goals for future sustainable development. Cities across Europe with more than 100,000 inhabitants are eligible to apply for the title.
In addition, smaller cities with a population between 20,000 and 100,000 can apply for the European Green Leaf 2016. It recognises towns and cities that demonstrate a strong environmental record, with a particular emphasis on efforts that engage citizens’ in environmental awareness, generate green growth and new jobs. For 2016 the eligibility threshold has been lowered from 50,000 to 20,000 inhabitants.
Milan adds 1 000 e-bikes to city bike scheme
Milan has introduced 1 000 electric bicycles to its BikeMi bicycle network, boosting the total number of public bikes in the city to 4 600.
The city is also planning to install a further 70 docking stations to accomodate the new e-bikes.
The bicycles include batteries which allow a range of 55-65km on a single charge and can be re-charged up to 300 times.
How cities are starting to turn back decades of creeping urban blight
A VACANT LOT is a contagious place. Signs of its disorder — graffiti, car parts, trash ditched in the overgrown weeds — have a way of spreading. This is how it happens: First, the one lot drags down neighboring property values, discouraging people who live there from investing in their own homes, deterring banks that could lend them money, and unnerving buyers who might move in. Then the behavior that blight provokes multiplies, too: People who see litter, for instance, are more likely to litter themselves. Finally, blighted lots become good places to stash weapons and sell drugs, and the crime that follows depresses the block even more until what’s the point of picking up the trash when you can just move out, too?
New issue of "Thinking Cities" released!
"Planning the thinking city" with reference to SUMPs (sustainable urban mobility plans) is the cover theme of the new issue of "Thinking Cities", a magazine published jointly by Polis and H3B media. This fourth issue of "Thinking Cities' has just been released as print and online magazine.
Five EU cities gather under the CEPPI project to look for innovative energy solutions
Birmingham (UK), Budapest (Hungary), Castellón & Valencia (Spain) and Wroclaw (Poland) have joined efforts to look for more sustainable energy solutions through a pro-innovation procurement approach. Under the umbrella of the EU-funded CEPPI (Coordinated energy-related PPIs actions for cities) project, these five cities will demonstrate that by selectively intervening in scheduled public tenders, energy consumption can be reduced and, consequently, GHG emissions decreased. The goal of this 3-year project is to save at least 33GWh/year and to boost market transformation towards more sustainable energy products, building and services.
To achieve the objectives, several actions will be taken: procurement officers will be trained, public procurement of innovation tenders with energy efficiency specifications will be launched, and suppliers will be invited to engage dialogue with public authorities to analyse which innovative solutions can be applied.
Launched on 1st April 2015, the project will start with a baseline study of each city to identifiy both the energy performance benchmarks and the forthcoming public tenders that provide an opportunity to achieve the pro-innovation procurement and energy-saving goals.
Results of the EU stakeholders consultation regarding the EU urban agenda
On May 27th, the European Commission published its Commission Staff Working Document regarding the results of the public consultation on the key features of an EU urban agenda.
Results of the EU stakeholders consultation regarding the EU urban agenda
On May 27th, the European Commission published its Commission Staff Working Document regarding the results of the public consultation on the key features of an EU urban agenda.
Consultation reports on the role of intermediary, metropolitan and peripheral cities in the Global Agenda
UCLG is working with its members and partners to develop a Global Agenda of Local and Regional Governments for the 21st Century. In March we held consultations on the role of intermediary, metropolitan and peripheral cities in the Agenda. The consultation reports published today aim to open up the debates that took place in March to an audience beyond those who directly participated. We invite local governments and our partners more widely to reflect on the ideas generated and the proposals made in these reports, and to build on the consultations with their own inputs.
Who Is the Smart City for?
Who doesn’t love a good dystopian thriller? With unforgettable characters and edge-of-your-seat chase scenes, these movies are entertaining, exciting, and extremely lucrative. From Blade Runner and The Matrix trilogy to Elysium and the Hunger Games series, these movies have defined our conception of a post-apocalyptic world. But the real power of this genre lies not in its special effects but in its creative baring of social tensions in futuristic megacities that today no longer look so far-fetched.
From lack of infrastructure to concentrated poverty, megacities—urban areas of 10 million or more people—present significant challenges for any local government. Concerns over social inequality have also long been a fixture of the discourse around megacities, especially so in India where there are six such metropolitan areas amid a culture defined by the hierarchies of the caste system. At the moment, however, the issue of urban exclusion in India is now coalescing around that nation’s burgeoning smart city movement.
The role of local governments is crucial in human rights enhancement
During the fifth World Human Rights Cities Forum (WHRCF) in Gwangju (the Republic of Korea), over 800 participants took part in discussions on human rights and human rights cities. Among the participants were human rights activists, local parliamentarians, academics, UN human rights experts and other stakeholders. The aim of the Forum was once more to be a platform for all the major parties involved ‘through participation and sharing beyond the traditional level of resistance to the authoritarianism while including those who used to be marginalised’.
Crowdfunding is the Wild West for civic initiatives
Ever more civic initiatives are turning to crowdfunding to make their ideas happen. It is an interesting development that directly affects citizen participation and democratic decision-making. Civic crowdfunding has its limits, but they can be overcome.
In a short time, crowdfunding has become extremely popular. Research agency Massolution estimates that global crowdfunding will double in 2015, raising over $34 billion. Lending-based and equity-based crowdfunding are the largest and fastest growing segments in the crowdfunding market. Nonetheless, perhaps the most exciting segment is ‘civic crowdfunding’. Civic crowdfunding is the generic term for crowdfunding campaigns aiming to raise funding for public or shared goods. Civic crowdfunding rubs against existing relationships between citizens and (local) governments as community groups take matters into their own hands.
Building cities for citizens: Metropolis analyses how to Live the City
Over 450 mayors and representatives of the world's major cities and metropolitan regions, together with partners, professionals and academics, came together in Buenos Aires between 18 and 21 May 2015, at the invitation of the city’s Government, to attend the annual meeting of Metropolis. The event was opened by the President of the organisation and President of the Ile-de-France region, Jean-Paul Huchon, and by the Mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri. In their opening speeches, they made reference to the 30th anniversary of the creation of the leading global network of major metropolises, emphasizing the need to build cities for the people, where citizens can "Live the City", the meeting's key theme.
The ‘pedestrianization’ of New York’s Times Square is well afoot
For decades, vehicles and visitors jockeyed for space in New York City’s famed Times Square. The battle is over: Pedestrians won. A major overhaul that began in 2012 and is slated for completion next year is transforming this iconic crossroads into a walker’s paradise, according to the Times Square Alliance.
The changes are dramatic. Plazas have been extended into areas that were once roads, creating a vast public space that induces people to linger longer and savor the spectacle of neon billboards and costumed characters hustling tourists. To be sure, this is still a construction site and there are bottlenecks in spots where sidewalks are being upgraded.
Start a Citizen Planning Academy in Your Town
Are most people in your town in the dark when it comes to planning and development issues? Does your local government struggle to recruit volunteers for boards and commissions? If so, a citizens’ academy could be the answer! Here are five reasons to start an academy in your town:
Urban freight distribution: SMILE information guide gathers energy-efficient best practices
Urban freight transport plays a key role towards the economic vitality of the cities. Goods transport and delivery are fundamental elements of economic activity that is increasingly dependent on the regional business network producing increased pollutant emissions and greenhouse gas effects. The high frequency and delivery time requirements, the weight of freights and the large number of shipments characterizing these deliveries indicate a significant potential for increased energy consumption and CO2 emissions in urban freight transport.
The SMILE project, aiming at testing and sharing solutions for green and smart urban logistics, has collected a wide range of energy-efficient measures regarding urban freight distribution. The publication provides a variety of good practices to inspire energy efficient interventions in 4 categories: technologies, information tools, operative tools and marketing tools.
Young People and Placemaking: Engaging Youth to Create Community Places
Community leaders must engage the whole community, and by engaging young people we send the message that they are a part of our community, too. Working with young people creates stewardship, ownership, respect and a great sense of pride in our communities. Here, you’ll find examples from around the world where young people were involved in placemaking.
Future Cities Africa: New Thinking for Long-term Transformation
The Cities Alliance and UK Department of International Development (DFID) have launched a major new partnership initiative to support African cities as they transform themselves into resilient, inclusive centres of economic growth.
The Future Cities Africa initiative will support cities in Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda and Mozambique to anticipate and minimise future challenges in terms of climate, environment and natural resources – essentially giving them the tools to “future proof” themselves.
Future Cities Africa is arguably one of the most innovative, ambitious initiatives the Cities Alliance has ever supported. It will help cities look at their future development in a new way, and give them the information and tools they need to undertake more focused, participatory urban action plans. It is also designed to provide tools that can be replicated in a range of cities and countries, while at the same time remaining relevant for each local context.
Race and Justice Should be Considered in Urban Design
Recently, CityLab published an article, “?There Are No Urban Design Courses on Race and Justice, So We Made Our Own Syllabus,” arguing that such omissions leave future urban designers ill-prepared in the face of escalating tensions around policing and city policies that produce racial inequities. The director of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the City College of New York, Toni L. Griffin, responded in an article published by NextCity, “There Is a Syllabus for an Urban Design Course on Race and Justice in Harlem.” Griffin’s course requires students to examine the unresolved issues of race, equity, inclusion, diversity and access in urban communities.
EU needs to realise full potential of its cities
An EU urban agenda is about cities, national governments and the EU working together to solve Europe’s problems, said Tom Balthazar, deputy mayor of Ghent representing EUROCITIES at 2nd CiTIES Forum.
The second edition of the European Commission’s CITIES Forum focused on ‘an urban agenda for Europe’. It brought stakeholders from the EU institutions, cities, European networks and national governments together to discuss the next steps for an EU urban agenda.
Corina Cretu, European commissioner for regional policy, presented the findings of the Commission’s 2014 consultation on an EU urban agenda.
Cities with physically active residents more productive as well as healthier
Increasing amount of green space and promoting walking, cycling and use of public transport has significant economic benefits, study concludes
Research that examined more than 500 studies says walking and cycling projects return an average of £13 in economic benefit for every £1 invested.
Cities in which residents are physically active have a big advantage over their more sedentary rivals, with better economic productivity, higher property values and improved school performance, as well as a healthier population.
In an increasingly globalised, competitive and mobile world, cities have an economic imperative to promote walking, cycling and public transport, as well as increasing the amount of green space and curbing car use, according to a report from the University of California.
The Rise of China’s Inland Cities
Economic transformation is opening up new possibilities for inland cities in China and elsewhere.
Last week, a solar plane on a round-the-world flight landed in Chongqing. The project promotes renewable energy, but the stopover also signifies Chongqing’s increasing global visibility and connectivity.
Maritime advantage has shaped urban destinies for millennia. With the exigencies of global trade historically driving seaboard growth, mid-continental cities have lagged mostly as agricultural and resource outposts. The isolation of these landlocked cities has compromised their ability to culturally diversify. Today, though, with enhanced global mobility and instantaneous communication, the world’s vast interiors have shed the profound disadvantage of geographic seclusion and are now asserting themselves in the new global economy. This is particularly evident in China’s inland cities, where a blended statism balances pro-developmentalism with the soft sovereignty of urban governments over economic growth.
Six Chinese cities team on smog reduction
Six cities in China’s most polluted province are coordinating smog-reduction efforts. China.?org.cn reports via China Daily that Beijing and Tianjin will provide financial and technical assistance to four smaller cities in heavily industrial Hebei province.
The cities plan to create a “unified emergency response system to cope with heavy smog,” the article says. At present, each municipality has a separate policy governing emergency steps for smog conditions. The result: differing restrictions on automobile use per city.
California Cities and the Innovation Economy
It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that every business today wants to be innovative. Entrepreneurs are motivated by the likes of Apple, Google, Twitter and many others are based in California cities. This is no accident. In his recent book The New Geography of Jobs, Enrico Moretti, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, explains how cities promote innovation (defined not just as technology, but also as medicine, media, manufacturing and other sections that rely on constant improvement of products and services) and, importantly, how innovation affects cities’ economies. As it turns out, the cities of Moretti’s adopted home state have some of the biggest beneficiaries of the innovation economy—and some that have been left behind.
When Cities and Suburbs Work Together
Jurisdictions in some regions are working together. Instead of just offering up the best or highest tax breaks, these local governments, planning officials, private-sector business people, and real-estate developers are trying to think through what makes each region unique and authentic. Then, they build up the local economy around those attributes.
Brussels plans 10 000 parking places on city fringe
The government of the Brussels-Capital Region is planning to create 10 000 parking spots in different Park-and-ride locations on the city's outskirts.
The measure aims to increase the number of commuters who leave their car at the city's edge and take public transport, reducing traffic congestion and air pollution in the city centre.
The strategy has been under discussion for several years, but is now seeing the first steps for its implementation.
Asian cities consider floating cities in the wake of rising sea levels
Asian cities threatened by rising tides or simply out of space are eyeing a novel solution: floating real estate. Shiwen Yap writes for Deal Street Asia that Bangkok, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City are among the places studying the idea. All three must contend with increased flooding linked to climate change.
Another city that may be interested is Singapore. The tiny island nation is so short on land that some companies and citizens are relocating across the border in Malaysia. Among the advantages of floating urban districts: prime waterfront locations and immunity from floods.
End of the car age: how cities are outgrowing the automobile
Gilles Vesco calls it the “new mobility”. It’s a vision of cities in which residents no longer rely on their cars but on public transport, shared cars and bikes and, above all, on real-time data on their smartphones. He anticipates a revolution which will transform not just transport but the cities themselves. “The goal is to rebalance the public space and create a city for people,” he says. “There will be less pollution, less noise, less stress; it will be a more walkable city.”
Partners launch Global Exchange Platform on National Urban Policies
Seventeen representatives from nine global organizations recently met in Nairobi and agreed to set up a Global Exchange Platform on National Urban Policies (NUP). The Platform will serve as a knowledge management facility on NUP that will foster peer-to-peer learning and provide a space for exchanging experiences on developing and implementation of NUP.
An architectural tour of … parklets?
Say what you like about Parklets — and there are detractors as well as devotees — they are now an established part of the scenery not only in San Francisco, but beyond.
The initiative to convert parking spaces into pocket-sized plazas turned 5 in March, and as I wrote in a survey of the low-slung landscape,
The best parklets combine design ambition with a genuine desire to engage passersby. Others are no more than glorified sidewalk seating for the businesses that install and maintain them. They are, in short, as varied and problematic as the city in which they were born.
Here’s something else: They’re fun — accessible installations that show the thin line between public space and public art. En masse, you can’t help but be entertained by the range of possible responses to the challenge of creating space for people to sit in, safely, between a sidewalk and an automotive path. Some even win awards!
The 10 States With the Best Bike Policy Tend to Have One Thing in Common
The League of American Bicyclists released its 2015 state rankings, highlighting the states that are doing the most — and the least — to make bicycling a safe and convenient way to get around. Though the top ten states are not perfect, and most still have their share of highway expansion projects in the pipeline, many are letting cities and towns implement street designs like protected bike lanes, and seven have endorsed the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ Urban
Bikelanes protecting sidewalks
A few months after Honolulu's first protected bike lane opened, it's the latest to demonstrate a very consistent trend across the country: almost every protected bike lane cuts sidewalk biking in half.
From August 2014 (before barriers were installed) to February 2015 (after), the number of bikes using King Street (both directions, road bed and sidewalk combined) soared 71 percent.
And in the same period, Honolulu bicycle coordinator Chris Sayers said Monday, the number of bikes on the sidewalk plummeted 65 percent.
That's no big surprise, because someone biking on a sidewalk is just trying to ride in the protected bike lane that isn't there. When cities make part of a street comfortable to bike in, people naturally choose to use it.
Botkyrka: Anti-rumours cafés
In Botkyrka, Sweeden, anti-rumours cafés have been set up in libraries as a public platform to discuss and explore rumours and prejudices. Libraries were chosen as they are well attended by young people aged 18-25 years old, the main target of the C4i campaign in Botkyrka. All in all, 4 anti-rumour cafés were set up and each one focused on a particular rumour. The initial theme-specific concept was “Criminality” (the most prominent theme of rumours in Botkyrka), followed by “incompatibility of the Swedish and immigrant cultures”, “Unequal distribution of public resources” and “Swedish culture is under threat”.
The Bridge and the City - A universal love story
Across countries and centuries, this book explores a fundamental social and demographic change: the emergence of a planet of towns and cities. But it looks at this densification of human and economic relations through a specific lens, the increased connectivity triggered by strategic urban bridges. As places of encounters and exchanges, bridges have played a major role in the urbanization of our planet. Through the history of twenty-four cities, The Bridge and the City explains how these monuments have influenced urban development over all continents. The most fascinating cities in Europe (Paris, Rome, Istanbul, Saint-Petersburg, London) all possess fantastic bridges. The same could be said about North American cities (New York, San Francisco) and cities in other regions of the world. Besides, the most famous bridges have almost always been erected at a critical juncture in the history of their host cities. It could be argued that “the bridge makes the city” because, in history, the city reaches a new dimension when its “grand” bridge is inaugurated. This was the case in Prague and Florence in the fourteenth century, in Mostar and Venice in the sixteenth century, in Paris and Isfahan in the seventeenth century, in Budapest, New York and London in the nineteenth century, and in Sydney, San Francisco, Kolkata and Shanghai in the twentieth century.
Which is the healthiest city in the US?
Time magazine this week shared a list of US cities ranked according to “health and community fitness”. And the healthiest, fittest city in the country? For the second year in a row, it is Washington DC, which seems to have scored well due to its “above-average access to public infrastructure”. Other healthy cities include Minneapolis, San Francisco and Portland. But who’s at the bottom of the list? Indianapolis came in last, with Memphis and Oklahoma City close behind.
The world’s cities: the “sweet spot” of climate change
John Rennie Short, professor of public policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, says cities are "at a sweet spot to react to climate change."
Cities are a focal point for action on climate change — and in time, climate action will seem as compelling to urbanites as the introduction of clean water systems in the late 1800s. That’s the argument John Rennie Short, professor of public policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, made in March at the Conference on Communities and Urban Sustainability, hosted by the French Embassy in Washington, D.?C. The comments below are excerpted from his talk and a subsequent Citiscope interview.
How Adelaide revitalized itself through ‘placemaking’
ADELAIDE, Australia — Not long ago, this city on the South Australia coast was a 9-to-5 town, where restaurants catering to suburban commuters closed once lunch was served. As the latest UK edition of National Geographic Traveller magazine put it, residents “regarded their town as a wallflower, ignored by visitors who prefer the long-legged hotties in the eastern states.”
But these days, Adelaide has a new energy flowing in its streets, both day and night. The same article calls Adelaide today “‘sassy,’ ‘wicked-sexy’ and “happ-a-NIN’.” Adelaide made recent “top destinations” lists put together by The New York Times and Lonely Planet. In March, London’s Sunday Times placed Adelaide number one on its list of the best places to live in the world.
MOLE underground freight transport tested in UK
Mole Solutions, a company founded in 2002 to research and develop freight pipelines, is testing a new concept that uses rails though underground pipelines to transport freight faster and efficient. The tests are performed in a special test location near Cambridge, UK. The company says that a system like this may be used to transport freight from suburban areas to the final distribution points in the city centres.
Nearly quarter of older urban Spaniards face mobility problems
A new study has found that almost a quarter of older Spaniards face significant difficulties in getting around their cities. Spain's Royal Automobile Club and insurance provider Liberty Seguros asked people over the age of 65 living in Spanish cities on the problems they faced with mobility. Twenty-one per cent said that the built environment in their city is not – or is insufficiently - adapted to their needs.
Do Urban Growth Boundaries Work?
Urban growth boundaries are held up as one of the most effective tools for limiting sprawl. But do they actually constrain unplanned development? Three urban growth boundaries — in the metropolitan region of Portland, Oregon; King County, Washington; and the metropolitan area of Denver, Colorado — were examined in a session at the American Planning Association (APA) conference in Seattle. A few interesting points came out of the discussion: growth boundaries are flexible and constantly being renegotiated. When they succeed, it’s because there is widespread political support for limiting growth and directing it to urban centers. Redevelopment and infill development in the cores relieve pressure on the outer boundaries, and offering incentives to those outside the boundary to limit development can work.
Communication for integration (C4i): about us
Have you ever heard expressions like “Immigrants receive more financial aid to open their businesses, and they don’t pay taxes…”; “Immigrants are overcrowding our health services…” or “Immigrants don’t want to integrate or learn our language…”? Such ideas, generally unsupported by facts and data, target specific groups as ‘problematic’ and generate mistrust and social conflict. The C4i-Communication for Integration project, co-funded by the Council of Europe and the European Commission, aims to create social networks in order to address negative but widespread, misconceptions (rumours, prejudices and stereotypes) about persons from diverse backgrounds and to provide evidence-based information to counteract such misconceptions.
Awards for cities promoting road safety
Cities actively promoting road safety for their fleets can apply now for the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) PRAISE awards.
Applications are now open for the PRAISE Awards 2015. The awards showcase organisations that put road safety first, and include a category for public authorities. The other categories are dedicated to SMEs and large companies.
Successful applicants must be able to demonstrate an outstanding commitment to improving work-related road safety. To apply, download and complete the questionnaire available here by 3 August.
Why does Barclays want to build a city in the middle of the New Mexico desert?
Santolina, a planned 38,000-home mega-development on the outskirts of Albuquerque, has got local residents deeply concerned that it will suck up desperately needed water amid warnings of a future megadrought
The real challenge for cities
Planners in D.C. and other cities have had much success luring young professionals to urban neighborhoods, so much so that a prominent question among economists and housing analysts is whether all the millennials who moved to cities will stay once they have children.
Previous generations mostly moved to the suburbs, and there is evidence that many millennials also want to live in suburban single-family homes, even if they live in cities right now. Picket fence and all.
Culture in Sustainable Cities: Call to participation in the Pilot Cities Programme 2015-2017
Following the adoption of Culture 21: Actions in Bilbao at the UCLG Culture Summit, and the successful experience of the Pilot Cities programme in 2014, the UCLG Committee on Culture launches “Culture in Sustainable Cities: Learning with Culture 21 Actions”.
This new Pilot Cities scheme will run between 2015 and 2017 and it is open to cities and local governments wishing to take part in a learning process, benefit from local and international expertise and conceive new approaches to culture and sustainable development.
Cities protecting the rights of people with disabilities
João Carlos da Silva Alfonso, deputy mayor of Lisbon for social rights, spoke on behalf of EUROCITIES at a high level Latvian presidency event on disability in Riga on 11 May.
The event was an opportunity to assess the progress of implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is important to ensure that the rights of the 80 million people in Europe with disabilities are respected, and that they can fully participate in the labour market and society in general. This can be achieved at European level through comprehensive policies with a human rights approach. City authorities have an important role to play in the implementation of these policies.
Dubai to pilot ITU performance indicators
Dubai will be the first city to assess the efficiency and sustainability of its smart city operations using key performance indicators developed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)-T Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities.
The collaboration between Smart Dubai, an initiative to convert Dubai into a smart city, and ITU is part of the UN organisation’s efforts to encourage the adoption of master plans for sustainable urban development by city administrations.
The day when roads will harness solar energy is drawing near
There are some 60 million kilometers (37.3 million miles) of roadways in the world, just sitting there. But adapting these surfaces to do anything besides passively carry traffic has proved difficult and prohibitively expensive.
Past attempts include trying to convert the vibrations on roads into electricity. But this technology is only economically feasible on the busiest thoroughfares, which account for a tiny proportion of the world’s huge network.
Others have tried to capture and store heat energy during summer and feed it through the road when the weather changes to keep it ice-free. There is even a working test-patch in Hiroshima, Japan.
Urbanisation: our biggest challenge and our greatest opportunity
Interview with the Mayor of Istanbul and President of the United Cities and Local Governments by European Development Days "Local governments, as the level of government closest to the people, are best placed to partner with them to help them achieve their goals. They are on the front line when disasters hit communities and we have an important role to play in disaster risk reduction".
Inflection point for China’s mass migration to cities
The flood of migrants into China’s cities that fueled economic growth for three decades is beginning to wane. Jamil Anderlini reports for FT Magazine, published by the Financial Times, that workers weary of air pollution, dangerous work conditions and family separation are heading home.
“Many prominent economists believe China has reached the so-called Lewis Turning Point,” Anderlini writes. This occurs when the supply of cheap migrant labor runs low in an industrialized economy. Sir Arthur Lewis, a 1979 Nobel laureate, crafted the theory.
According to the article, less than one-fifth of China’s citizens lived in urban areas in 1978, when economic reforms were adopted that encouraged migration. Today, more than half the nation’s population lives in cities.
Bike share users are mostly rich and white.
Bike share is one of the hottest trends in US transportation, with new systems springing up across the country over the past decade.
But not everyone uses them. Bike share users skew significantly whiter, wealthier, and more likely to be college-educated than the overall populations of the cities they live in. That's despite the fact that nationwide, the people who bike regularly are actually disproportionately low-income and nonwhite.
Walking Visionaries Awards
VIENNA - Walk21 is organizing the Walking Visionaries Awards to collect ideas on how to integrate the concept of walking in the city, and as being an integral part of it, turn the city into a more just and sustainable place.
River Cities Offer Lessons on How to Adapt
“We can consider rivers as city-making landscapes,” said Thaisa Way, ASLA, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Washington and organizer of a two-day conference on river cities at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. “In river cities, rivers are the agents, offering opportunities for food, transportation, and water, but also liabilities, like drought and flooding.” Each river city has a dynamic relationship with its river, so communities that depend on them must always strive to improve their adaptability and resilience. “Rivers can be beneficial or terrifying.” In the era of climate change, river cities, with their often creative responses to a changing environment, offer lessons.
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