Selected Readings


  •  21-Apr-2015

    Will we ever… live in underground homes?

    “Around one million people live in underground Beijing (…) With two-thirds of the world’s population expected to live in cities by 2050, urban land is expected to become an increasingly limited resource. Many cities – due to space constraints, heritage areas, or other factors – cannot build up, or out. But what about down?”

  •  21-Apr-2015

    Zacharias et al (2013) Morphology and Spatial Dynamics of Urban Villages in Guangzhou’s CBD

    “This study of village space in the new central area of Guangzhou focusses on the spatial relationships between village space and the surrounding city—the exchange of people and goods, the movement system in relation to commercial activity, and the relationship between the pattern of building andmovement networks—as a primer for new approaches to physical renewal. Primary field data, interviews, and archival research support the analysis of Shipai village, in particular. It was found that Shipai plays a significant role in transport and economy at the district and central city level.”

  •  21-Apr-2015

    The value and limits of urban sustainability indicators (IIED)

    “If indicators are to be used effectively, some particular lessons should be borne in mind. Firstly, it is more important to focus on sound principles rather than on specific methods, which may not be appropriate for all contexts. (…) Secondly, indicators need to reflect the needs and priorities of marginalised and vulnerable groups – too often, the priorities for measurement (and hence for action) are set by more powerful stakeholders to meet their own ends. Thirdly, these indicators need to capture the complexity of a city rather than oversimplify its context. Indicators (…) must take into account the ways in which different groups are affected – not just based on their geographic location or their economic characteristics, but also the way in which individual characteristics like gender and age shape and are shaped by policies.”

  •  04-May-2015

    Rapid buses, air pollution and schools no one goes to: urban India’s next challenges

    “As things stand, it feels like the nation’s evolution may take it towards American self-reliance, not the European social model. India is, after all, a nation of soaring inequality, and although this has always been the case, the gap is widening. If millions continue to be lifted out of poverty then inequality is likely to be tolerated: that was Ireland’s experience when it was the Celtic Tiger. But India, once a socialist nation, will face a dangerous future if its people forget their rising prosperity is the result of better government, not just the magic of markets. It is the agency of the state – working in partnership with the private and non-profit sectors – that unblocks institutional bottlenecks which thwart aspiration”

  •  21-Apr-2015

    Cleaning up Karachi, brick by brick

    “The waste generated by Karachi is one of the biggest challenges for its administration. It could be addressed if an innovative idea by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the United Nations Development Programme is implemented.”

  •  02-May-2015

    Urban Vulnerabilities in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal: Visualizations of Human/Hazard Interactions

    Excessive unplanned urban growth leads to many vulnerabilities and impacts on urban environments to varying degrees. However, the majority of the extant literature focuses on the problems related to location and socioeconomic conditions, rather than vulnerability processes and related environmental degradation.

  •  14-Aug-2014

    Making space for street vendors: Towards equitable urban development

    Evidence from Bhubaneshwar, India shows that proper mapping, efficient use of space, and infrastructure improvements can significantly benefit vendors’ livelihoods. A vendor engagement process in Bhubaneshwar created a series of vending zones through a participatory mapping process. The city then built fixed kiosks in these zones. Vendors have benefited greatly, with 67% reporting an increase in the number of customers and 61% reporting increased sales. Of vendors who reported increased sales, more than 70% reported increases of at least 10%.

  •  03-Apr-2015

    Planned informality: the need for flexibility and foresight in urban refugee settlements

    “Take a flat land in the desert of Jordan near the Syrian border and place thousands of white tents and containers within the boundary. Then accommodate families to live in it — and within the timeframe of a month, if not overnight, what you have is a small city. Leaving behind the tragic reasons behind the forced exile of Syrian people to Jordan, the process above described is, in synthesis, the incredible process that UNHCR — with the help of Jordanian Government and other agencies — undertake to build the refugee camp of Za'atari.”

  •  03-Apr-2015

    Bangladesh’s only female big-city mayor may also be its most effective

    “Along the way, she’s emerged as one of south Asia’s mayors to watch. She’s established herself as an honest leader in a country with a big corruption problem. And she’s a tireless crusader for the urban poor, who in Narayanganj live on less than 42 cents a day.”

  •  06-Apr-2015

    Charting the Metropolitan century

    “But, as “The Metropolitan Century” makes clear, national governments ignore metropolitan areas at their own risk. For instance, the report cites evidence of growth in gross domestic product with shorter travel times to the central city. Within 45 minutes, GDP growth tops 1.8 percent annually, while more than 300 minutes reduces growth to less than 1 percent. With the exception of Mexico and Chile, all other OECD countries also experience their highest labour productivity in metropolitan areas with populations greater than 5 million.”

  •  23-Apr-2013

    Challenges faced by China in its effort to achieve sustainable urbanization

    “Most Chinese developers will dress up their projects in the language of “green”, “sustainable” “eco”, since that facilitates government approvals and creates market interest. But the reality is much more mundane and largely disappointing. Dongtan eco-city on Shanghai’s Qiongming Island has not materialized. Even though the Sino-Singapore Eco-city in Tianjin is showing progress, financing pressures are said to have created tensions between the Chinese and Singapore partners and may lead to certain green targets being revised downwards in order to cut costs.”

  •  04-Apr-2015

    Scientists map unprecedented urbanization in East-Southeast Asia

    The study reveals that between 2000 and 2010, the population of East-Southeast Asia grew by 231 million people—if this were the population of a single country, it would be the fifth most populous country in the world. (...) at the same time, urban areas expanded by 34,000 km2—an area the size of Taiwan. Contrary to previous findings, the new results reveal that the rate of population change has grown much more rapidly than the expansion of urban land. The population of cities in the studied region grew annually, on average, at 2.8%, in contrast to the rates of change for urban land average, which grew 2.0% annually.

  •  02-Apr-2014

    Secondary cities matter

    Secondary cities have become the subject of renewed interest by scholars and international development organizations. This report, for Cities Alliance, investigates the role played by secondary cities in the development of global regions and nations. It includes a literature review and redefinition of the term “secondary city” in the context of the role such cities play in global and national urban systems. Secondary cities are no longer defined by population size. Today, functionality and connectivity with global and national systems of cities has a significant influence on the way secondary cities are defined. The book discusses trends, influences and challenges, including the forces of New Economic Geography (NEG) facing the development of secondary cities in developing regions using a systems analysis perspective under the headings of urban governance, economic, development, social and environmental systems. Fifteen regional case studies are presented to illustrate the way countries in developing regions have approached urbanization, decentralization and other developments in support of secondary development. The role of international development assistance agencies and organizations in supporting the development of systems of secondary cities is discussed.

  •  03-Apr-2015

    Lessons from 700 Resilient Cities Applications

    Through two rounds of the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge, we have received over 700 applications from nearly 600 cities (some applied twice). This trove of data shows us what cities perceive as their biggest challenges and priorities. We offered insight into this information after the first round of applications, and now that we’ve received another 331 applications, we’re happy to offer an additional five conclusions about how cities perceive resilience and their situations.

  •  01-Apr-2015

    Gloal Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015

    The 2015 edition looks at making development sustainable: The Future of Disaster Risk Management

  •  01-Apr-2015

    Mapping a brighter future for Nairobi's slums

    Mapping and app technology is allowing residents living in Nairobi's Mathare slum to report land disputes and waste management and infrastructure problems.

  •  30-Mar-2015

    Why the Sustainable Development Goals matter

    Following the progress made under the Millennium Development Goals, which guided global development efforts in the years 2000-2015, the world’s governments are currently negotiating a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the period 2016-2030.

  •  31-Mar-2015

    5 ways the world can shift to low-carbon growth

    If you have children or grandchildren, you probably have wondered what the world will be like for them in 20 or 30 years. Will it be a better place? Will climate change upend their lives?

  •  31-Mar-2015

    How can local innovation respond to climate change in cities?

    In the final DPU Breakfast Talk of the term Vanesa Castán Broto was in conversation with Étienne von Bertrab about the role of local responses to Climate Change in urban areas.

  •  30-Mar-2015

    Public spaces - not a “nice to have” but a basic need for cities

    We often think of amenities such as quality streets, squares, waterfronts, public buildings, and other well-designed public spaces as luxury amenities for affluent communities. However, research increasingly suggests that they are even more critical to well-being of the poor and the development of their communities, who often do not have spacious homes and gardens to retreat to.