Weekly Urban News Update
July 5, 2019
In This Update: 
Berlin's Housing Shortage May Mean the End of Some of its Urban Gardens
In Paris, Teachers and Parents Place Blame for Primary School Closures  on Airbnb
California Cities Face Fines Over Housing Requirements
Heavy Rains Cause City-Wide Evacuations in Japan
UN Women and French Government Call for Help to Shape Beijing+25 Agenda
UN-Habitat Will Employ Blockchain Solutions in Afghan Cities
How Bhutan Can Harness Urbanization for Regional Development
2.2 Billion People Cannot Access Safe Water and Sanitation, Says WHO and UNICEF Report
In the News and Around the Web
Berlin's Housing Shortage May Mean the End of Some Urban Gardens
Berlin's housing shortage may mean the demolition of urban gardening and farming plants. In Germany, "Schrebergarten" allotments offer city residents the chance to grow plants and vegetables in small, private gardens away from inner-city life. Now, to the objection of their gardeners, city authorities plan to demolish some of these allotments to make room for schools and affordable housing. One investor, Arne Piepgras, supports the move and argues that affordable housing "is a right," whereas gardening is "a privilege." Opponents of the allotments' demolitions emphasize their value as both social infrastructure and a way to mitigate the effects of climate change. The gardens are purported to help control temperatures during heat waves, drain rainwater after storms, and provide fauna and flora to the environment. 

Read more here.
In Paris, Teachers and Parents Place Blame for Primary School Closures on Airbnb
In Paris, many blame a housing shortage on Airbnb. The service's popularity has encouraged property owners to turn apartments into short-term rentals which are more profitable than traditional leases. Now, the effect of housing shortage and lack of affordability is being felt on schools as well. With a 25% increase in real estate prices since 2015 and a decreasing number of available long-term units, having children in Paris is simply unaffordable for many couples. Four schools have closed within the last four years due to a dwindling student population and ten other schools have merged in order to remain open.  One principal bemoaned: "Instead of hearing the cries of children going to school in the morning, you have the clickety-clack of suitcase wheels." 

Read more here.
California Cities Face Fines If They Fail to Meet Housing Requirements
In California, cities may face monthly fines of up to $10,000-$100,000 if they fail to meet housing capacity and affordability requirements. This financial penalty is the result of Governor Gavin Newsom's newly passed state budget requirements to help  increase housing capacity, improve affordability, and mitigate homelessness. If cities fail to comply with state housing requirements within a one year period, their monthly fines may increase to $600,000 and city housing plans could eventually be overtaken by a court. Governor Newsom previously demonstrated his commitment to enforcing city housing requirements when he authorized the state's attorney general to take legal action against Huntington Beach, CA over their alleged refusal to comply.

Read more here.
Heavy Rains Cause City-Wide Evacuations in Japan
In southwestern Japan, record rainfall has caused floods, mudslides, and blackouts and led to evacuation orders for residents in entire cities like Kagoshima City, Kirishima, and Aira. By Thursday, nearly 1 million were advised to evacuate their homes and 1.32 million were told to prepare to evacuate across the Kyushu prefecture. The rainfall has also damaged a Kagoshima UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Terayama Charcoal Kiln. Heavy rains are not unusual for the southwestern island of Kyushu, but they have amplified in recent years. Last July, deadly rains in Japan left 225 dead.

Read more here .
UN Women and French Government Call for Help to Shape Beijing + 25 Agenda
Next year, Mexico and France will co-host the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration place in Mexico City in April 2020 and Paris in July 2020. The "Beijing Conference +25" will celebrate the Beijing Declaration, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 set a global agenda for ensuring the improvement of human rights for women and girls. French Secretary of Gender Equality, Marlene Schiappa, and the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women have launched a survey for feminist organizations to shape the conference agenda, which may range on topics from "climate change or artificial intelligence."

Find the survey here.
UN-Habitat Will Employ Blockchain Solutions to Support Afghan Cities
As part of its City for All program, UN-Habitat will use blockchain technology in Afghanistan to promote secure and transparent land records management. The move is part of a larger collaborative effort between UN-Habitat and UN-Office of Communication and Information Technologies (UN-OCIT) to support the development of emerging technology tools and digital platforms for urban design and planning, with a particular focus on Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. UN-Habitat and UN-OCIT hope that blockchain solutions will help to harness Afghanistan's cities for state building and peacebuilding with a special emphasis on effective land management with clear land rights, restrictions and responsibilities.

Read more here.
How Bhutan Can Harness Urbanization for Regional Development
A new World Bank report offers insight into how Bhutan, one of the most rapidly urbanizing countries in South Asia, can best harness urbanization for development. While cities can offer Bhutan and its residents important economic opportunities, but Bhutan's cities are not yet equipped to provide quality urban services like water and sanitation or affordable housing. The report explains how a spatially differentiated approach in development and investment will support equitable living standards in urban centers, which in turn are critical to improving gaps in basic infrastructure and human capital development in rural areas and small towns.

Read more here.
2.2 Billion People Cannot Access Safe Water and Sanitation, Says WHO, UNICEF
More than 25% of the world's population continue to live below the standards for safe water and sanitation, claims a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. The report states that between 2000 and 2017, 2.1 billion people gained access to basic sanitary services, while the global rate of open defecation fell from 21% to 9%. Nonetheless, a huge safe water gap remains: 2.2 billion people who remain without access to basic services. Furthermore, as UNICEF's Associate Director for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, Kelly Ann Naylor, stressed: "Mere access is not enough. If the water isn't clean, isn't safe to drink or is far away, and if toilet access is unsafe or limited, then we're not delivering for the world's children."

Read about the report here.
In the News and Around the Web
  • Karachi's Female Cyclists: There is an increasing number of cycle groups for women and young girls in the Pakistani megacity. 
  • Air Pollution Spikes from July 4 Fireworks: City Lab's David Montgomery maps out air pollution spikes from Fourth of July fireworks.
  • How to Celebrate Summer in the World's Coldest City: National Geographic spotlights summer in Yakutsk, Siberia, the city that holds the record for both the coldest and the one with greatest variation in temperature.
  • Why San Francisco Techies Hate the City they Transformed: The Guardian interviews tech employees increasingly discontent with homelessness, rent, and social services in San Francisco.
  • Summer Snow in Mexican CityLast week, the Mexican city Guadalajara saw average temperatures of 88 Fahrenheit. This past Sunday, a hailstorm dumped 4 feet of ice and snow on the city.
  • Bringing Women's Voices into the Smart City Just City Dialogue: In  Open Global Rights featured IHC Global on how urban planners can use technology to create cities that are more just and safe for all.
A  Schrebergarten in Berlin/ DPA

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