Weekly Urban News Update
October 4, 2019
In This Update: 
How the Vuvuzela Helps to Support Women's Safety in Soweto
Air Pollution in Global Megacities Linked to Cognitive Decline in Children
How to Make Sure Mexico's Cities Don't Run Out of Water
Investigating Fair Housing in Brussels
How Cities can Fight Back Against Cybercrime
How an Academic-Private Sector Collaboration Transformed Medellin
Spotlight Event: Leveraging the Private Sector to Improve the Economic Environment for Women
In the News and Around the Web
How the Vuvuzela Helps to Support Women's Safety in Soweto, South Africa
The vuvuzela, a long plastic horn used at soccer matches, first gained international recognition during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Now, in Soweto, safety patrol groups are using it to support women's safety. The groups,  said to comprise thousands of men in Soweto, meet female commuters at their home in the early morning, use the instrument to alert the women of their presence, and then escort them to public transportation. The male-led initiative is important given the high rate of incidents of gender-based violence in South African cities. Women's rights groups are enthused about the effort. One activist explains:  "I wish we lived in a society where women were able to walk freely in the streets. But in the absence of this, [the patrols are] an awesome meaningful, tangible move by men who are taking responsibility for the scourge of gender-based violence in South Africa."

Read more here .
Air Pollution in Global Megacities Linked to Children's Cognitive Decline
At The Conversation, Amedeo D'Angiulli, Professor of Developmental Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at Carleton University, links urban air pollution to a cognitive deficits in Mexican children. In a study of different areas in Mexico, D'Anguilli and his colleagues found that children living in Mexico City experienced substantial cognitive decline compared to children in less polluted areas. This is because Mexico City, where the pollution rate is notoriously high, produces large amounts of particulate matter. Particulate matter that circulates from the lungs into the blood and the brain c an cause neurodegeneration, cognitive deficits, and increase risk for dementia. D'Angiulli implores: "The brains of millions of children are being damaged by air pollution and protecting them should be of pressing importance for public health."

Read more here.
How to Make Sure Mexico's Cities Don't Run Out of Water
At Urbanet, Jorge Alejandro Silva Rodriguez de San Miguel writes that Mexico's cities are overexploiting groundwater and lack enough wastewater treatment facilities. He examines the successes and failures of two municipal programs: the Water Sustainability Program to mitigate groundwater exploitation and the Green Plan to reduce groundwater losses and increase wastewater treatment. According to Rodriguez, construction delays, corruption, and financing are responsible for the programs' only partial success. But, despite the need to develop long-term sustainable solutions, 
Rodriguez also believes that some municipal efforts, such as the rehabilitation and replacement of water meters, point to future successes for Mexico's urban water management.

Read more  here .
Investigating Fair Housing in Brussels
In Brussels, the Regional Housing Inspectorate will begin a program in which government employees pose as prospective tenants to investigate whether landlords and real estate agents are discriminating based on race, physical ability, or sexuality. The "mystery shopper" tests aim to help prove legal discrimination by comparing the rates of acceptance and rejection for minority and non minority applicants. Real estate agents and landlords found guilty of discrimination will face a fine. They may also be subject to a criminal trial if the officers identify "incitement to discrimination." Although the testing has not yet begun, City Lab's Feargus O'Sullivan points out there may be some positive interim effects. For one, the threat of fines may pressure agents against discrimination. Furthermore, the initiative also sends a message to minority groups "that the city takes their welfare seriously."

Read more here.
How Cities Can Fight Back Against Cybercrime
"The world is in the early stages of a techno-war against city governments and urban infrastructure," write SecDev Group's Robert Muggah and Future Crimes Institute's Marc Goodman at World Economic Forum. In recent years, both large and small cities across the world have been subject to ransomware attacks. Notably, in the United States, ransomware attacks disrupted the cities of Atlanta and Baltimore. Internationally cities like Dublin, Stockholm, and Johannesburg also suffered from attacks on their municipal infrastructure including tram systems, air traffic control, and power plants. According to Muggah and Goodman, federal support is insufficient to help cities build up their outdated cybersecurity infrastructure, but there are nonetheless concrete steps they can take. 

Read more here
How an Academic-Private Sector Collaboration Helped Transform Medellin
A committee composed of the private and academic sectors has helped rejuvenate Medellin after a decade wracked by violence and narcotics in the 1980's. Now, the University, Enterprise, and State Committee (CUEE) continues to bridge the gap between what government services can and cannot provide in the face of complicated recovery challenges. The combination of private and academic sector expertise allows the Committee to effectively transfer technical knowledge from research to businesses which in turn benefits citizens. Above all, CUEE continues to promote urban development through a monthly stakeholder dialogue and forming close working relationships between governmental and nongovernmental organizations. The Committee attributes its success and longevity to its institutional independence, noting: "The Committee remains an independent entity that is separate from the government...thereby providing continuity in policy and planning."

Read more  here .
IHC Global Spotlight Event
Leveraging the Private Sector to Improve the Economic Enabling Environment for Women

October 9, 2019
Center for International Private Enterprise
1211 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036

The Center for International Private Enterprise will host a discussion on leveraging private-sector leadership to improve the enabling environment for women in the economy. Women entrepreneurs and women in business are key to achieving sustainable and inclusive growth. Kim Bettcher (CIPE) will moderate a discussion between Manizha Wafeq (Afghanistan Women's Chamber of Commerce) and Foluke Ademokun (Association of Nigerian Women's Business Network) on  how to improve conditions for women in the economy as well as their efforts and achievements in eradicating barriers through business leadership and advocacy.

Find event information  here .
In the News and Around the Web
  • Global Survey Shows 74% Are Aware of Sustainable Development Goals: Three out of four adults worldwide have some awareness of the SDGs.
  • UN-Habitat Pilots Slum Upgrading Projects in Mosul and RamadiUN-Habitat handed over two upgrading work projects to local authorities in Iraq. 
  • Which Places Are Most Effected by Climate Change? According to Time Magazine, the cities of Lagos and Manila rank among the top six places,which also includes countries. 
  • Tickets for Trash in Rome's Metro:  In Rome, metro-riders can swap recycled plastic bottles for tickets.
The Brussels city government is actively pursuing landlords and real estate agents who discriminate against minority housing applicants. (Photo Credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images/ City Lab)

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