Cities in perspective – the Global Urban Lectures series

As urbanafrica announced recently UN-Habitat’s Global Urban Lectures series is available online. Here’s a list of some of the best talks.

1. In Making Room for a Planet of Cities professor Shlomo (Solly) Angel, based at NYU, introduces a new paradigm for ‘making room.’ He highlights the need to plan the growth of urban territories in rapidly urbanizing countries to avoid overcrowding, traffic congestion and astronomical housing pries as has happened in cities like Bangkok, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. His emphasizes the need to design expansion plans for African cities which include calculations for good transport and communications systems.  He also presents the protection of public spaces as key for planning the growth of cities.

2. In Slums and Cities: Past, Present & Future, city planner Eugenie L. Birch discusses characteristics, similarities and differences between different slums through a historical lens. She focuses on the contemporary slums in the South and highlights issues like forced evictions, security and the lack of public services in these areas. In conclusion, she talks about the need for mapping the slums to identify slum-dwellers’ needs in the 21st century and poses the question: how will cities integrate the slums in future?

3. Dr. Ron Dembo is one of the world’s leading authorities on risk management. He is also the Founder and CEO of Zerofootprint, a cleantech software that measures environmental impacts. In Citizen Roles in Resilient Cities he talks about climate change and the volatility of cities. He predicts that cities will see a rise in energy and electricity demands to combat rising temperatures and flooding.  He also pays attention to the need for behavioral changes among citizens as they seek to build resilient cities.

4. In Incremental Housing, Dr. Reinhard Goethert, who directs the Special Interest Group in Urban Settlements (SIGUS) at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planningdiscusses “site and service projects,” which are modeled on massive informal, illegal housing developments in developing countries. He looks at housing policy shifts over the years for the poor, such as squatters, as well the principles underpinning settlement design for these populations.

5. Nabeel Hamdi is considered the guru of urban participatory development. In Participation in Practice he introduces the concept of ‘participation’ as ‘responsibility with authority in partnership with other stakeholders’. For him, participation is needed to converge vested interests, create partnerships, get accurate information and mobilise interests and resources, identify conflicts and discover alternatives. He relates the term ‘participation’ to others like empowerment, sustainability, community, identity, design, efficiency and rights adding strategic value to this crucial term.

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