Weekly Urban News Update
May 10, 2019
In This Update: 
Bangladeshi Children Threatened by Climate Change Migrate to Overcrowded Cities
A Former Ambassador Explains the Key Role for Cities in International Diplomacy
Study Shows Urban Areas Are Not the Main Cause of Rising Global Obesity
How Bulgaria's Second Largest City is Reversing its Brain Drain
China's Sponge Cities
In Africa, Entrepreneurs Tackle Urban Food and Water Insecurity
Underpinning Sustainable Development: Infrastructure's Role in the SDGs
Meeting of IHC Global Board of Directors 
In the News and Around the Web
Bangladeshi Children Threatened by Climate Change Migrate to Overcrowded Cities
A UNICEF report last month revealed that large numbers of Bangladeshi children are feeling the effects of climate change. Climate-related disasters like cyclones, floods, and droughts have forced large number of child migrants into overcrowded urban slums in Dhaka and other major cities. As environmental refugees, children in urban slums are vulnerable to exploitative forms of labor and early marriages, warns UNICEF. In addition to addressing rural recovery in the aftermath of climate-related shocks, the report also offers recommendations on integrating migrant families when they arrive in Dhaka and other large cities.

Read more here.
A Former Ambassador Explains How Cities Are Key for International Diplomacy
Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for International Affairs and former U.S. Ambassador to Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Nina Hachigan explains that cities are well-poised to be centers of international diplomacy. Hachigan asserts that international and political engagement between cities can allow leaders to have "productive relationships with foreign counterparts," despite national level tensions. For Hachigan, the power of cities to act collectively on the global stage is the most important indicator of cities' diplomatic potential. She points to the coalition of 400 Climate Mayors, dedicated to supporting the Paris Climate Agreement, as they represent 70 million Americans.
 
Read more here.
New Study Shows Urban Areas Are Not the Main Cause of Rising Global Obsesity
Global obesity is rising at a slower rate in cities than in rural areas, according to a new study by researchers at the Imperial College London. In some instances, the researchers report, urban obesity is even shrinking: in 1985, the start year of the study, the number of obese individuals in cities outnumbered those in rural areas, but the trend has reversed significantly since then. According to research lead Professor Majid Ezzati, these findings directly contradict commonly held notions that people living in cities are the main cause of rising global obesity. Ezzati says: "Discussions around public health tend to focus more on the negative aspects of living in cities. In fact, cities provide a wealth of opportunities for better nutrition, more physical exercise and recreation, and overall improved health."

Read more here.
How Bulgaria's Second Largest City is Reversing its Brain Drain
Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city, is defying the nation's emigration trend. Over the past twenty years, Bulgaria's population declined from 9 million to 7 million, with emigration comprising 2/3 of the population change. But, in the face of insecurity brought by Brexit and instability in other popular European destinations such as Greece and Spain, Plovdiv has proven attractive for Bulgarian returnees. City and housing affordability, the relaxed pace of life, and the expanding IT sector are helping to "reverse the brain drain" by "offering young Bulgarians a lifestyle they could not afford abroad." Maria Stancheva, recently returned from living in the UK, explains: "My salary is low, but my living standards are better."

Read more here.
China's Sponge Cities
At Science Friday, journalist Eric Gies explains how cities in China are addressing major water issues caused by climate change. Urban sprawl and gray infrastructure have exacerbated and contributed to flooding and water shortages, says Gies. China is prioritizing finding solutions to national water problems by  investing in Sponge Cities Project. Sponge Cities aim to dramatically increase the percentage of captured stormwater by upgrading traditional drainage systems and installing or reintroducing canals, waterbodies, and multifunctional storage facilities. The project brings a much-needed focus to a severe problem: between 2011 and 2014, 62% of Chinese cities flooded.

Read more here  .
In Africa, Entrepreneurs Tackle Urban Food and Water Insecurity
Africa faces a multitude of major challenges as it rapidly urbanizes, chief among them is the intersection of food and water insecurity in urban settings. For University of Ghana professor Chris Gordon, governments play a role in providing safe infrastructure, but what Africa needs in the face of deforestation, dry reservoirs, and failing crops are "smart cities" that more efficiently manage and market food supply. For Gordon, in the case of severe water shortages in cities like Cape Town, South Africa or Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and their peri-urban areas, the use of smart technology by African entrepreneurs to produce food that wastes less water and fewer nutrients, without the use of pesticides has been key in mitigating the effects of droughts.

Read more here.
Underpinning Sustainable Development: Infrastructure's Role in the SDGs
Last Thursday, the Society for International Development-Washington (SID-W) hosted a round table on on a new report by the United Nations Office of Public Services: "Underpinning Sustainable Development: Infrastructure's Role in the SDGs." The event, organized by IHC Global CEO Judith Hermanson and urban finance consultant David Painter and sponsored by UNOPS, featured Steve Crosskey, UNOPS Head of Strategic Initiative s, and discussants IHC Global Senior Technical Advisers Larry Hannah and Eduardo Rojas. Key topics included reframing UNOPS strategy, mainstreaming infrastructure throughout the SDGs rather than limiting its inclusion to SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), and navigating the tension between finance and planning in national contexts. 

Read the report here.
Meeting of IHC Global Board of Directors 
On Tuesday, May 14th, IHC Global will convene a meeting of its Board of Directors, Senior Technical Advisors, and staff.
In the News and Around the Web
  • In Paradise, California, Many Still Lack Temporary Housing After Camp Fire : In rural North California, approximately 1,000 families in Paradise, California have yet to secure even temporary housing six months after the devastating Camp Fire.
  • Photos of an Arctic City : Russian photographer Elena Chernyshova describes life in one of the world's most isolated cities. 
  • Kenya Commits to Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: Kenya commits to achieving SDG sanitation targets by 2030. 
  • In Seattle, a Native American Tribe Gets Rent Money as Reparations: Seattle residents are sending the Duwamish Tribe monthly rent money as a form of restorative justice.

UNOPS Director of Strategic Initiative, Steve Crosskey (center) speaks with IHC Global Senior Technical Advisors Larry Hannah (left) and Eduardo Rojas (right) at last week's SID-Washington event, "Underpinning Sustainable Development: Infrastructure's Role in the SDGs."

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