Weekly Urban News Update
May 5th, 2017
In This Update

USAID Urban Resilience Adviser Clare Romanik breaks down the challenges that cities in the developing world face in accessing the financing required to build infrastructure and deliver services for their growing populations. According to the article, the estimated global infrastructure investment required from 2013 through 2030 ranges from $57 trillion to $67 trillion, with 75 percent of these investments needed in cities. With insufficient state capital, a shrinking amount of international development funding, low national support for city governments, and the difficult task of bringing the private sector to the table, cities in the developing world face a complex web of issues. However, looking at best practices from around the world- much like what United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) is doing with their Global Observatory of Local Finances tool- can gather innovative approaches to these issues, and help cities in the developing world achieve sustainable development.

Read the full article  here.
D New tool measures how to provide paths from poverty to sustainability

A new paper that will be published this week will lend support to the idea that creating a quantitative and systematic understanding of how cities generate wealth and better living conditions for their residents would be a big step towards achieving the SDGs by 2030. The paper, "The Heterogeneity and Scale of Sustainable Development in Cities," is a compilation of information, gathered by researchers from the Santa Fe Institute and Arizona State University, that analyzed neighborhood-level data in several nations in Africa and Latin America. Through the quantitative data, the researchers propose that a simple index- one that can be used and altered by any country- can measure progress consistently and accurately capture the different needs of people, not just from city to city, but from neighborhood to neighborhood. This proposed index is another innovative idea to add to the profound progress that has been made in tracking the needs of individual cities.

Read the full article here.

The New York Times is putting its foot in the door to urban development with Cities for Tomorrow, a conference that will convene industry experts, policymakers, developers, creative visionaries, entrepreneurs and others from around the world, to discuss the challenges facing cities worldwide and the solutions that lead to successful cities. The program will focus on urban innovation topics, from private investment to partisan politics to smart technology, and pay a special attention to newsmakers that are covering, championing and driving urban change. The conference will be hosted by The New York Times' Big City Columnist Gina Bellafante and Editorial Director of Live Journalism for Corner Office Columnist Adam Bryant, and will feature several notable urban innovators, like the New York City Commissioner of Health Mary T. Bassett and Filmmaker Barry Jenkins.

When: July 10th - July 11th, 2017
Where: TheTimesCenter
242 West 41st Street
New York, NY 10036

Learn more about the event here.

For a historical perspective on cities, join the Wilson Center and the Urban Sustainability Laboratory for a panel discussion that will examine the company towns that arose in Russia during industrialization in the late 19th century, and those experiencing deindustrialization in the late 20th century. Speakers will include Wilson Center Fellow and Professor at Oberlin College Stephen Crowley, who will discuss the current dilemmas facing Russia's "monotowns", the one-industry cities and towns created during the Soviet era that often struggle to survive in a competitive global economy; and Fulbright-Kennan Scholar and Project Manager at Kharkiv University Volodymyr Kulikov, who will compare company towns in Imperial Russia to those in the U.S., and will discuss the social transformations that took place as farmers, peasants, and migrants entered the company-centered industrial world.
When: Wednesday, May 10th, 2017
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Where: The Wilson Center
Ronald Reagan Building and
International Trade Center
One Woodrow Wilson Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania, Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

Register for the event   here.
Feature IHC Global Urban Feature: Inclusive Cities
Tools to ensure 'smart cities' don't leave behind people with disabilities

The Issue
As the idea of "smart cities" is taking the world by storm, the race among global tech giants to develop new mobile apps, e-government services, and other tools is leaving behind people with disabilities. World Enabled President Victor Pineda and G3ict Vice President James Thurston came to this conclusion at the Smart Cities NYC Conference this week, and in response have launched a "Smart Cities for All" toolkit, aimed at helping city leaders apply a more inclusive approach to urban technology. This launch comes after surveying 250 leaders from the public and private sectors, advocacy organizations, civil society and academia from the Global North and South to see if they could identify any smart-city projects that focused on accessibility. Only 18 percent of those surveyed could answer. The toolkit, which enjoys support from Microsoft, consists of four ways to provide a solution to these accessibility issues; a tool for communicating the need for digital inclusion within city management, one for laying out the established international standards for digital inclusion, one that is a model procurement policy that draws on global accessibility standards, and one that is a database of more than 350 apps, websites, software and other technologies that demonstrate different ways of addressing the digital divide for people with disabilities.

What We See
Historically, steps in innovation tend to leave behind the most vulnerable sections of society, including the disabled. IHC Global believes that for a city to truly be a "smart city", it must also be a "just city", and going forward with inequitable urban technology would go against the core  value of cities as places of opportunity for all. The rising tide of smart technologies brings thousands of possibilities for cities, and for fixing their most glaring infrastructural issues. But, as Pineda rightly says, Goal 11 of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda are about equity and inclusion, and so they will not be met if people with disabilities aren't included in the digital urban framework.  This toolkit is a massive step towards urban inclusivity, and is especially notable for recognizing that the success of the city as a whole depends on every moving person, including the most vulnerable. 

Read the full article here.
To learn more about our Key Policy Topics, click here
In the news and around the web
  • Read about how Washington D.C. neighborhoods have used "black branding" to attract white millennials here.
  • McMansions are killing Los Angeles' urban forests. Find out more here.
  • See how wheelchair users are trying to navigate Mexico City's busy streets here.
  • Check out stunning pictures of London from the top here.

A view of 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the Walkie Talkie, from the top in London, England.
Source:  Guardian Cities
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IHC Global: changing cities for good.
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