Development & Aid, Global, Global Geopolitics, Headlines

HABITAT: Today’s Cities and Future Shock

Kunda Dixit

DUBAI, Nov 25 1995 (IPS) - ‘By the Third Millennium, Mega City had become a seething urban jungle with 65 million people. There was an explosion of crime and block wars.’

That is the blurb in Hollywood’s latest futuristic block- buster ‘Judge Dred’ about how human society degenerated into savagery and slaughter. Right is might in these cities, and only the fittest (like Sylvester Stallone) survive.

But it’s not all science fiction. Similar cities exist even today. And as urban areas across the globe agglomerate, experts say, more will follow. The question is, what can be done to prevent cities from sliding further into anarchy?

The United Nations is preparing for a big City Summit in Istanbul next year which will discuss the problems of urban settlements, and how to bring social and ecological equilibrium back to cities.

A meeting in Dubai this week to prepare for the Istanbul meeting heard good examples of efforts being made around the world in urban renewal and decided that the only hope was to give more power to local authorities and communities to rebuild.

“The Istanbul conference should not be a meeting of governments, but a meeting of people,” said Jaime Ravinet, mayor of the city of Santiago in Chile.

The Nairobi-based United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (known by its acronym HABITAT), which is preparing for the City Summit says more than one and a half billion people in the world’s cities will face life and health-threatening environments by the year 2025.

With more and more people migrating to cities, the number of people living in the world’s urban areas will overtake those living in villages by the year 2000 — for the first time in human history.

Overcrowding and competition for resources contributes to the rise in violent crime, gang wars and political unrest spilling over into the streets: as in the decaying urban core of U.S. cities, Medellin or Karachi.

“We are ending up with street warfare instead of safe neighbourhoods. Uncontrolled urban growth has created the conditions for violence and ethnic conflict,” Klaus Toepfer, the German Minister of Housing, Construction and Planning told the Dubai meeting.

Although this correlation is clear, urban activists say it is important to understand that the most vulnerable victims are not the street fighters and the gangs, but families, women and children. Women are the poorest of the poor in most societies.

 
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Development & Aid, Global, Global Geopolitics, Headlines

HABITAT: Today’s Cities and Future Shock

Kunda Dixit

DUBAI, Nov 25 1995 (IPS) - ‘By the Third Millennium, Mega City had become a seething urban jungle with 65 million people. There was an explosion of crime and block wars.’
(more…)

 
Republish | | Print |

Related Tags