Weekly Urban News Update
November 6, 2020
In This Update
A Controversial Light-Rail Transit System in Lahore
Urban Corruption Around the World Impedes Sustainable Development
Report Suggests Criminalizing Homelessness Perpetuates Homelessness
Srinagar, Kashmir Sees Surge in Cycling During COVID-19 Pandemic
UN-Habitat Releases World Cities Day Report
This Week in Photos
In the News And Around the Web
A Controversial Light-Rail Transit System in Lahore
Last week, Lahore, Pakistan opened a light-rail transit system, made possible by a $1.6 billion loan from China as part of that country's Belt and Road initiative. The light rail promises to shorten the 2.5-hour commute across Pakistan’s second largest city to less than an hour, reduce traffic, lessen pollution, and make transit more affordable for working-class residents. Yet, the metro has faced opposition from multiple fronts throughout its development. Critics say its construction has endangered UNESCO heritage sites, depended upon the demolition of low-income housing, and involved poor labor conditions that resulted in the deaths of over 50 workers.

Read more here.
Urban Corruption Around the World Impedes Sustainable Development
A brief by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) explores urban corruption worldwide and its impact on urban spaces in the context of rapid urbanization. The brief identifies corruption and extortion in urban planning and investment driven by a scarcity of urban services and resources, money laundering especially evident in poorly regulated real estate transactions, and excessive urban real estate speculation as serious impediments to sustainable urbanization. Yet, the brief also points to promising approaches to curb urban corruption such as the Cities of Integrity project in South Africa and Zambia and the Human City Project in Nigeria.

Read more here.
Report Suggests Criminalizing Homelessness Perpetuates Homelessness
At Urban Institute, Samantha Batko, Sarah Gillespie, Katrina Ballard, and Mary K. Cunningham examine punitive approaches to homelessness in the United States. The authors argue that criminalizing homelessness, clearing homeless encampments, and arresting people for actions like sleeping outside perpetuate a jail-homelessness cycle. Instead, they say that cities should pursue Housing First strategies that place people in safe, affordable, secure, and permanent housing before addressing other challenges those individuals face. They also urge cities to shift the role of law enforcement to partnerships with service providers and co-responder models. 

Read more here.
Srinagar, Kashmir Sees Surge in Cycling During COVID-19 Pandemic
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir has seen a surge in cycling and bicycling sales, with some vendors reporting up to a 150% increase in sales. As authorities cut travel during lockdown and city gyms closed, Srinagar residents have embraced cycling as a form of both transportation and fitness. The city sees the trend as part of its Master Plan 2035 and Smart City Mission to make the city “green and clean,” improve civic amenities, and embrace technology. Srinagar is also developing its first network of bike paths and introducing safety and convenience measures such as new lighting, trees for shade, and bike parking areas. 

Read more here.
UN-Habitat Releases 2020 World Cities Day Report
UN-Habitat released its 2020 World Cities Report, “The Value of Sustainable Urbanization.” The report asserts that following decades of rapid urban growth around the world, urbanization has entered the global stage as a key agenda for international development policy. Yet even though cities have shown themselves to be drivers of economic development and prosperity, most city residents are excluded from the benefits of urbanization. The report urges cities to embrace the New Urban Agenda as a roadmap to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and to guide development efforts during the Decade of Action ahead of Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. 

Read more here.
This Week in Photos

  • The Street Uncles of Kampala: A small group of men in Kampala are helping fight drug addiction among youth and children in the city's slums.
In the News and Around the Web

  • Rising Water Risk in Cities Around the World: The World Wildlife Fund Water Risk Filter found that the 100 most water vulnerable cities are home to at least 350 million people.

  • Curbing Urban Violence in Africa: The Center for Strategic and International Studies Talking Urban Futures in Africa initiative examines urban violence and insecurity in Africa.

  • The Right to Mobility in Mexico: Mexico approved a constitutional amendment to guarantee its citizens the right to safe, affordable, accessible, and inclusive mobility.

  • The Parisian Business District Under a Second Lockdown: La Defense, the biggest business district in Paris, is struggling during COVID-19 and a newly-imposed lockdown.

  • Policies Not Politics Influence Crime Rates in American Cities: The political affiliation of a city's mayor is less relevant to crime trends than their policies.
"Street uncles" in the Kisenyi neighborhood of Kampala help provide services to youth and children to prevent and respond to drug addition. (Photo Credit: Katumba Badru Sultan/The Guardian)
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