City Matters Bulletin - brought to you by Urbanicity - web version

Welcome to the October 2014 edition of City Matters.

September was a very busy month for news from cities and urban actors around the world; we published more than 120 stories!

As usual we have summarised the most popular and interesting news stories from September below, and the entire month's catalogue of news items can be seen here.

And lastly, if you want the most regular news updates, be sure to follow us on Twitter

Jeremy Flay

Editor in Chief




Searching for the promised land of Public Space: The key to an equitable African city

The UCLG Committee on Urban Strategic Planning has just published a peer learning booklet titled: Searching for the promised land of Public Space: The key to an equitable African city, conducted in partnership with UN-Habitat, UCLG Africa, CoGTA and the Municipality of eThekwini (Durban). The aim of this publication is to demonstrate the need for learning exchanges between municipal, regional and international practitioners, in order to drive the debate on rethinking and reimagining public spaces.
The publication captures the main highlights, conclusions and learning outcomes of the event ‘Reimagining Public Spaces’ that was held from 4th-6th June 2014 in Durban-eThekwini, South Africa. The learning exchange was coordinated by the UCLG Committee on Strategic Urban Planning, under the firm belief that public space policies can be a means to both reshape cities and to improve quality of life, in the search for a better future.

The Future of Human Rights in an Urban World‏

The world is inexorably becoming urban. Already, more than half of the world population lives in cities. By the end of this century this will be 90 percent. Cities have a direct impact on the lives of billions of people. Moreover, megacities like Beijing, New York, Sao Paulo and Delhi expand their political weight at the international stage. Nonetheless, the implications of urbanisation for human rights are still unclear. Therefore Amnesty International Netherlands publishes a new volume in its Changing Perspectives on Human Rights series: The Future of Human Rights in an Urban World.

The edited volume can be downloaded for free at:


City inhabitants worldwide call for climate change action

According to CBS News there were 300,000. Marching, Singing, waving banners, taking over the whole of downtown Manhattan. They included New York City mayor Bill deBlasio, United Nations Secretary-generalBan Ki-moon, politicians, actors and thousands of others.
Around the world, a total of 580,000 were estimated to have participated in demonstrations in 2,000 citiesyesterday. As one marcher in New York told the BBC:"We need to get the message out: climate change is real, it's happening and we need to do something about it urgently."

The Municipalities of 4D Cities Specify their Local Action Plans 

The eight European cities that make up the 4D Cities Health Innovation are on the final line before the end of their project. To best succeed in the implementation of their Local Action Plans, they are using ImpactMaps, fund-raising techniques and communication tools. Learn how!


How cities can save trillions, curb climate change, and improve public health

No strategy for reducing the impacts of global climate change is complete without addressing the challenge of urbanization. Cities contribute about 70% of energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, despite only accounting for 2% of global land area.
Reducing this environmental impact may seem daunting, but a new report, Better Growth, Better Climate, finds that there are several actions city leaders can take that can reduce emissions while driving economic growth. The report finds that connected, compact cities could save $3 trillion in infrastructure investments over the next 15 years. Not only that, but they can also curb global climate change and yield immediate local benefits for air quality, health, and quality of life.

Global mayors compact shows unity and ambition to tackle climate change

New York, 23 September 2014: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the launch of a global Compact of Mayors, the world’s largest effort for cities to fight climate change. The Compact will enable cities to publically commit to deep GHG emissions reductions; make existing targets and plans public; and report on their progress annually, using a newly-standardized measurement system that is compatible with international practices. Through this effort, cities will be choosing to meet the same requirements proposed for the international climate negotiations that will lead to a global climate treaty in 2015.


A European future based on the local level: an interview with CEMR secretary general

What are the European key issues for the future of local government? How the local and regional level can contribute to the EU construction? How does CEMR participate in the EU legislation process? These are some of the issues addressed by our secretary general, Frédéric Vallier, in an interview (FR) published by our member association Union des Villes et Communes de Wallonie (Belgium).


Urban Agriculture – A Next Big Thing for Cities

To feed today's and tomorrow's cities using sustainable food production is an urgent task. With continually-growing world and urban populations, climate change and pressure on natural resources, global food security is paramount. How can we feed more people on limited agricultural land, with limited resources?
How can we best utilise space, light and logistics for an increasingly urban population? What can zero waste and low energy technologies contribute to food production in an urban environment?

Cities and Youth Employment 

The strategies for the promotion of youth employment adopted by the Italian cities partners in URBACT networks will be the focus theme of the event organized by Cittalia – Research Centre of ANCI (National association of Italian municipalities) on 12th September in Turin, as side event of the Bureau of the Committee of the Regions, taking place the same day.

6 Common Mistakes Made By Cities and Towns in Urban Renewal.

For the last half century, cities have attempted to repair the damage to their urban cores from migration to suburbs and exurbs. Redevelopment has evolved into smart growth, transit oriented development, and complete streets. In the last 15 years or so, the urban renewal efforts have had a receptive audience as people, tired of the car oriented lifestyle of the suburbs, are returning to urban cores and older urban neighborhoods. However, while cities get the big picture, too often in my 25 years as a land use attorney, I have seen the same mistakes repeated.

Traffic-cutting schemes promote greener living

As well as reducing air pollution, a new report has found that congestion charging schemes can encourage people to become more environmentally conscious.
Researchers surveyed car owners in Stockholm, Sweden, after the introduction of a congestion scheme and found that nearly half of respondents adopted behaviours such as reducing their energy and water use.
Questionnaires about Stockholm's congestion charging scheme were sent to over 1 200 people living in Stockholm County. Participants were asked how they traveled on a daily basis before and after the introduction of the scheme, as well as about recycling, shopping, energy and water consumption and travel at weekends.

Kuala Lumpur: a city in traffic gridlock, striving for sustainability

Some 1000 cars a day are registered in the Malaysian city. Its authorities are keen to make public transport more appealing
In a city of 1.7 million people, crammed into an area of just 94 square kilometres, the challenge for Kuala Lumpar is how to grow economically and physically without creating an urban dystopia.
The city’s population is set to grow to 2.2 million by 2020 and to triple to 4.8 million by 2050.
“Cities like Kuala Lumpur are places of opportunity and act as a magnet, attracting people, but of course there are problems when a city’s capacity can’t meet demand,” Mahadi Ngah, deputy mayor of Kuala Lumpur, explains. “The challenge is how to format urban planning policies.”

Improving climate resilience in cities

Concerned about the impacts of climate change, cities are adopting green infrastructure to become more resilient.
An entry in a recent Action4Climate video competition, “Climate TV, City Climate” highlights some of the issues cities are facing and how green infrastructure solutions can help a city cope with increased heat and stormwater run-off.

To Hull and back: the rebirth of Britain’s poorest city

Hull’s twin loss of its fishing and shipping industries consigned it to a future of poverty, isolation and even ridicule. But now all that is about to change, because the city is putting its faith back in the North Sea


Will Seattle Be the First U.S. City to Recycle Everything?

It’s dawn on waste-collection day in the hilly Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. Along the curvy streets of this residential peninsula northwest of downtown, three large bins wait outside each house. The green ones hold compost — leftover food and yard clippings. The blue ones overflow with everything recyclable: glass, plastic containers, cans and aluminum foil. The round black ones, for the trash, often aren’t full these days.

World Cities Day: best ideas from your city!

To mark UN-HABITAT’s first World Cities Day on 31 October, it has teamed up with Guardian Cities to launch the World Cities Day challenge
This year, 31 October will mark the very first ‘World Cities Day’. To be celebrated every year on the same day, this UN initiative is expected to promote the international community’s interest in global urbanisation and encourage cooperation between countries in working towards sustainable urban development.


Tokyo’s disaster parks: hi-tech survival bunkers hidden under green spaces

Things aren’t what they seem in Tokyo’s parks, where benches double as cooking stoves and underground stores hold emergency food and water for entire districts

Do Elevated Cycletracks Solve Problems or Just Create More?

This year, two designs – one proposed and one built – for elevated cycletracks, which create bicycle highways above street level, have gained considerable media attention. They highlight questions at the heart of urban design: Should cities blend or separate transportation options? How can cities best mitigate the hazards created when cars, bikes, mass transit, and pedestrians mix? How can cities create low-cost transportation networks in increasingly dense urban cores?

A portrait of our megacity future

Megacities are our future. It's simple math: When you've got one Earth and an unending boom in population growth, the gravitational pull of the world's economic and population centers will continue to drag rural dwellers in—if the Sprawl doesn't absorb them by default.
A United Nations report from July lays the issue bare: This year, some 54 percent of the world lived in urban centers, a number projected to grow to 66 percent by 2050. That growth "could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050, with close to 90 percent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa."


Africa's urban slums are “new normal”

Urban development in Africa is often touted an an antidote to endemic poverty — an opportunity to rid cities of slums and despair. Christine Mungai reports for Mail & Guardian Africa that the reality is more stark: Africa’s slums are the “new normal.”
In many African cities, half the population resides in slums, with the figure reaching 80 percent in Mozambique, Angola and the Central African Republic, the article says. Mungai writes that some cities “hide their slums well.” About a quarter of the people who live in “formal” housing structures in Addis Ababa actually lack access to toilets, for example. Another third must share toilets with more than six families.
Municipal officials in Africa often “turn a blind eye to urban sprawl and mushrooming of informal settlements” because slums provide inexpensive labor, Mungai writes. As a result, some cities are largely unplanned, such as Arusha, Tanzania, where an estimated 75 percent of homes are unauthorized.

Urban green space viewed as “fundamental right”

The lead designer of Singapore’s iconic Gardens by the Bay, an award-winning public park in the heart of the city, doesn’t view urban green space as a luxury. Vaidehi Shah reports for Eco-Business that British architect Andrew Grant sees city parks, forests, wetlands and wildlife as necessities.
“Connection with the natural world — access to green space, views of the sky, good quality air, water and food — is a fundamental human right,” he tells the publication. “There is increasing evidence that contact with nature within an urban environment has economic and social benefits for inhabitants.”


The Future Of Urban Planning: Zoning For Drones

A century ago, as cars first emerged into the world, cities and laws that were designed for horses suddenly had to adapt to a whole new presence in their space. Cities didn’t know how to handle these fast machines, and fatal accidents in the early age of cars led to legal battles between pedestrians and cars over who had the right to the road. Now,  commercial drones are approaching their Model-T moment, and planners can get ahead of this by plotting out their cities in color-coded three-dimensional blocks of sky.
Urban designer Mitchell Sipus, who’s done work for the mayors of both Kabul and Mogadishu, has sketched out a rough idea of possible zoning laws for drones.

Finding a place for cities in the UN’s “Sustainable Development Goals”

UCLG and its members are advocating for Sustainable Development Goals that take local and regional priorities into account, in particular in the light of rapid urbanization faced in many regions of the world. The Campaign for an Urban SDG was launched because the dynamism of cities represents a major sustainable development opportunity and a dedicated and stand-alone urban SDG is essential.



Published by
in conjunction with
UN Habitat has supported Urbanicity since it's inception


City Matters Bulletin by Urbanicity Ltd 284 Napier Rd, Havelock North, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand in conjuction with UN Habitat Best Practices and Local Leadership

To ensure continued delivery of City Matters, please add to your address book

Tel: Intl 64 6 8772134 Email: Web: