21, December, 2011

Addressing the Urban Challenge in Integral and Inclusive Ways

The world’s urban population multiplied ten-fold during the 20th century. Since Latin America has an advanced urban transition, its initiatives offer interesting lessons learned to help create inclusive, environmentally sustainable and integrated cities in other developing countries.

Integrated urban environmental plans developed in different Latin American countries show how to reduce systemic challenges in urban areas. Overcoming multi-dimensional urban issues requires a holistic view that includes channels for popular participation, higher level government support and cross-sector collaboration. However, it does not exclude a deep understanding of specific local necessities: in Brazil, transportation was a priority; in Colombia, disaster risk reduction; and in Argentina, decentralisation of public services. A critical overview of achievements in these urban environmental governance processes is key for South Asian and African cities that will need to accommodate most of the world’s urban growth.

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Key Lessons:

  • Good urban governance can limit environmental problems and the risks generated by unplanned and uncontrolled urban growth.
  • Urban environmental problems seem to be best addressed within integrated, long-term and locally-focused development plans involving multiple stakeholders.
  • Urban development programmes work when they have a strong social and equity dimension and include channels for participatory decision-making.

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