Weekly Urban News Update
June 2nd, 2017
In This Update
A  U.S. Administration has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord

In a controversial move, the U.S. Presidential Administration has decided to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, a landmark agreement signed by over 190 nations in 2015, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions that have led to drastic and worrisome changes in the climate. Despite hard evidence that climate change is occurring and will get worse the longer preventative measures are put off, President Trump maintained that the decision was made in the defense of American citizens, who he sees as being unfairly targeted by the Agreement. Disputing this claim are the dozens of cities, states and companies that are already monitoring their emissions and are committed to incorporating clean energy. And from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, from New York to Washington, from General Electric to Goldman Sachs, they have pledged to remain in the Paris Climate Agreement, regardless of what the federal government decides to do. According to the New York Times, a group that includes 30 mayors, three governors, over 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses has already started negotiating with the United Nations to submit its own plan to meet the United States' greenhouse gas emission targets.

IHC Global is pleased to see these efforts, especially from cities, which are responsible for a large amount of the harmful emissions in the earth's atmosphere and in many places, particularly those that are low lying, find their most vulnerable citizens being disproportionately affected by "super storms" and other aspects of extreme weather.  Although it is disappointing to see the US stand down from a global commitment, US cities and states committing to the Paris Agreement (#livebyParis), together with their counterparts in other countries and other national governments, can nonetheless address climate issues with good effect and so doing contribute also to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda with which many of its aims are intertwined. 

Read the New York Times article here.
Countries committed to fighting climate change are also showing their dedication to the New Urban Agenda, and are making progress in implementation. Ministers and diplomats from countries around the world shared their progress at the biennial board meeting of UN-Habitat last month. The small steps that countries have been making fit into four key categories: promoting the New Urban Agenda locally, organizing their approach to implementation, hosting urban forums, and starting pilot projects or test cases that determine whether or not a program makes sense on a larger scale. These steps may seem minor, but cities and governments showing their commitment to an entirely voluntary agreement is promising, and provides reassurance that both the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved by 2030.

Read the full Citiscope article here.
IHC Global joins HFHI, Wateraid, in concerns over FY18 budget

IHC Global, like many, is concerned about the prospect of deep US Federal budget cuts to foreign assistance.  We are making our voice heard in various ways, including supporting others in their statements and outreach, with particular attention to the key cross-cutting urban issues of WASH, housing and services, land and tenure, food security, migration, resilience and property rights which are central to IHC Global's inclusive and sustainable cities' agenda.  IHC Global will also share from time to time concerns and positions from others that might be of interest to our readers.

IHC Global has joined 30 other international development organizations in supporting WaterAid's statement concerning the budget cuts, in which WaterAid stresses the importance of development assistance in global affairs and asks Congress to continue providing robust funding for the Development Assistance Account and USAID in FY18.

We share also here an important and articulate statement by Habitat for Humanity International concerning the FY 18 budget proposals.  The statement argues that diplomacy, defense and development (the so-called "3 D's") are necessary for a peaceful future and drives forward the point that cutting funding is not simply a budgetary issue, but a moral one as well, as it will affect millions of people living in poor housing conditions worldwide.

Read the HFHI statement here.

This past week, IHC Global attended an event called 'Humanitarian Response in Urban Settings: Meeting the Maternal and Newborn Health Needs of Displaced Persons' at the Wilson Center. The event focused on the Syrian refugee crisis, the larger global migrant crisis, and the growing need for cities around the world to find new ways to meet the challenge of providing basic services for the massive influx of migrants. Panelists at the event discussed critical obstacles and possible solutions in improving healthcare for displaced moms and newborns. As migration and its implications is one of IHC Global's key policy topics, IHC Global believes that it is crucial to understand the complex situation of displaced persons in urban areas and to take innovative approaches in intervening and monitoring their health progress. 

The webcast of the event can be found here.
globalcitiesEvent: The Chicago Forum on Global Cities

Join urban leaders, experts and policymakers at the annual Chicago Forum on Global Cities, where participants will come together to discuss the role of cities in pressing global challenges. The event will also serve as a platform for participants to make new connections and develop innovative solutions to advance in their own cities. Speakers will include mayors and governors from various cities and municipalities, former Senior Adviser to Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett, Citylab Co-Founder and Senior Editor Richard Florida, and many more. IHC Global President and CEO Judith Hermanson will be attending.

When: June 7th - 9th, 2017
Where: The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Two Prudential Plaza, 180 N Stetson Ave #1400
Chicago, IL 60601

Learn more about the event here.

Sexual violence has proven to be an urgent issue within the global refugee crisis, across cities, countries and continents. Join Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) as they launch their new research report, "Childhood Cut Short: Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Against Migrant and Refugee Children from Central America", and, along with UNHCR, discuss the report's findings, and what they mean for the migrant children of Central America and the world. The event will include a panel featuring UNHCR Senior Protection Officer Leslie Velez, KIND Gender and Migration Initiatives Director Rachel Dotson and more, as well as a question and answer session.

When:  Wednesday, June 7th, 2017
9:30 AM - 11:30 AM EDT
Where: SEIU Building
1800 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest
Conference Center
Washington, DC 20036

Register and learn more about the event  here.
Feature IHC Global Urban Feature: Urban Climate Resilience
The urban farmers battling Bangalore's concrete jungle

The Issue
The words "farming" and "urban" may not seem like they should coexist. But in a quickly urbanizing world, rural areas are being swept up by cities, and farms are either disappearing, or finding a way to become integrated into their urban surroundings. In Bangalore, in Southern India, the area of the city covered by concrete has expanded by 975% since 1970, and as many formerly rural communities get integrated into the growing city boundaries, farmers are left with a choice: continue farming under fraught conditions, or sell their land. The conditions in Bangalore don't make it an easy decision; lakes surrounding the city are so polluted that they periodically catch fire, crops are so difficult to grow that they can only be cultivated in short growing cycles, and to even have a chance to sell their produce, farmers have to lie about using water that contains chemicals and untreated sewage. Though the city is in the midst of a tech boom, it is also in a Catch-22; as farmers pack their bags and sell their land, the city will have to source its food from farther away, something that the affluent will be able to afford, but will be disastrous to the urban poor.
What We See
Bangalore is at an important crossroads. While the tech boom promises prosperity and urban growth, secure access to food is necessary for every city to thrive. Local officials have started noticing the issue and are looking for solutions. The director of town planning, MB Thippana, admitted, "As a civic body, we could not match the speed at which the city was growing. We accept that we had failed to provide basic amenities." Thippana goes on to note that stakeholders have come forward to prepare a master plan for the city keeping in the mind the city's expected growth over the next decade. Recognizing where they went wrong is a promising first step for the Bangalore government, and as urban farming and creating an urban jungle have both proven to be ways to combat climate change and promote sustainability, perhaps the urban farmers can lead the charge to make the city more environmentally friendly. Bangalore is the perfect example of why it is so important to have comprehensive plans for urban development from the beginning, rather than create them as problems arise. And though the government is working on solutions now, some of the trickier problems could have been avoided if a comprehensive and forward-looking plan for the city had been created earlier.

Read the full article here.
To learn more about IHC Global's Key Policy Topics, which are both barriers and gateways to better, more equitable urban development, click here
In the news and around the web
  • Find out how and why street harassment in Paris became a full-blown crisis here.
  • Mongolia's capital city, Ulaanbaatar, is struggling with unprecedented and rapid urbanization. Learn more here.
  • Find out where your city ranks in Forbes' 2017 edition of the world's smartest cities here.
  • Discover how elevators have changed the shape of cities here.
  • The USAID webinar on land tenure in Tanzania is now available here.

As the world feels the impact of climate change, Bangladesh is one of the countries that has been hit the hardest. In the village of Kanainagar, river erosion has destroyed the main road and houses that once stood at its shore.
     Source: Al Jazeera
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