Weekly Urban News Update
September 28th, 2018
In This Update
World Habitat Day to Kick Off Urban October
Updates from the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Revamping U.S. Foreign Aid: The House Passes the BUILD Act
Beyond the Water's Edge: Foreign Aid and Bipartisanship
What We're Reading: Palaces for the People
This Week in Photos
UN-Habitat Prepares for Urban October

World Habitat Day to Kick Off Urban October
Monday, October 1st marks the start of the Urban October, a month of activities, events, and discussions around urban sustainability, organized by UN-Habitat and its partners. The United  Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as "World Habitat Day," to kick off Urban October activities. World Habitat Day encourages broad reflection on the state of towns and cities across the world, with a special emphasis on the right to shelter. This year's theme, Municipal Solid Waste Day Management, will draw attention to the amount of solid waste produced by individuals and towns, its cost, and the health problems and polluted air and water that can occur if waste is not collected in a safe and effective manner.

IHC Global will engage in Urban October as well: on World Habitat Day, President and CEO Judith Hermanson will speak at the FIABCI International Real Estate Foundation about effective housing solutions in challenging situations.
This Week at the United Nations: 

Updates from the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
IHC Global is excited to join civil society organizations in a meeting with UN-Habitat Executive Director  Maimunah Mohd Sharif on Friday, September 28th at  the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Director Sharif will discuss UN-Habitat governance and the 10th Session of the World Urban Forum in 2020. 

IHC has been closely following other developments at the United Nations as well:
  • UN Secretary-General Ant รณ nio Guterres introduced the  Youth 2030: The United Nations Youth Strategy initiative to empower young people to realize their potential and stand up for their rights.
  • The SDG Media Zone provided UNGA attendees a week packed with lectures and panels on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, with a special emphasis on engaging the private sector. The Media Zone especially emphasized the importance of engaging the private sector. Several panels featured prominent business leaders who argued that businesses and entrepreneurs themselves benefit from investing resources and time in sustainable development.

Revamping U.S. Foreign Aid: The U.S. House Passes the BUILD Act
On September 26th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the BUILD Act (Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development), which will now proceed to the Senate. The BUILD Act seeks to facilitate economic development abroad by creating a new development finance institution: the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation. The IFDC  will promote the "participation of private sector capital and skills," in American aid in development, with an emphasis on "less-developed countries, minority, and women-owned business, small business, and women's economic empowerment." It has been praised by some as a long-needed " modernization " of American aid.

The Act's passage in the House comes at a time in which USAID is repositioning some of its aid strategies vis-a-vis Chinese aid. Some see the BUILD Act as a "direct response to China's Belt and Road Initiative," and its "debt-trap diplomacy." At a Brookings Institution event this past June, USAID Administrator Mark Green drew an inverse comparison between the Marshall Plan after the Second World War and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative: "Just as the creation of the Marshall plan offered Europe a clear choice for their economic growth," he asserted,"the emergence of China's authoritarian assistance programs...also offers a clear choice for nations around the world...(that would) secure conditions and indebtedness that essentially mortgage a country's future."

Beyond the Water's Edge: Foreign Aid and Bipartisanship
This past Tuesday, the day before the House vote on the BUILD Act, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted House Representatives and Co-Chairs of the Caucus for Foreign Assistance, Adam Smith (D-WA) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) to discuss the future of American foreign aid. Representatives Smith and Yoho, co-sponsors of the BUILD Act, who played crucial roles in its passage, spoke in conjunction with the release of the CSIS report,  Beyond the Water's Edge: Measuring the Internationalism of Congress .   Beyond the Water's Edge surveyed fifty Congressmen and women on a range of issues surrounding American foreign assistance in different parts of the world. The report found that support for American foreign aid programs was "strongly bipartisan," and concluded that: "The average Republican and Democratic member support on security assistance and humanitarian and global health assistance was near identical." Smith and Yoho reaffirmed the report's conclusion, asserting that the BUILD Act was a product of bipartisan convictions. 
Eric Klinenberg's  Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization and the Decline of Civic Life tackles big questions: What should policymakers do about social isolation, high crime, poor health and education in the urban environment? Why do some neighborhoods flourish where others fail? Is civic society in American societies on the decline, and if so, is this trend inevitable? For Klinenberg,  many of these questions can be understood through the concept of social infrastructure and its presence. Social infrastructure, according to Klinenberg, can be defined as the "physical places and organizations that shape the way people interact," such as libraries, schools, playgrounds, or parks. By skillfully weaving research and meaningful stories, Klinenberg argues that thoughtful and decent urban planning can encourage the formation of communal and civic ties which are so crucial to the resilience of cities and neighborhoods.
This Week in Photos
  • The Secret Life of Libraries: Eric Klinenberg and Joey O'Loughlin spotlight the  Seward Park Library in Manhattan's Lower East Side which plays a central role in Kleinenberg's  Palaces for the People.
  • Slippery Slope: Mother Nature Network presents seven of the world's  steepest streets.
Montane Mansion, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong Island (Guardian Cities)
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