Weekly Urban News Update
March 9th, 2018
In This Update

In honor of International Women's Day, March 8th (but we do not want to limit ourselves to only that day!), here's a roundup of news stories from around the world detailing the strides women have made in cities, the challenges they continue to face, and what comes next.

Jane Jacobs, a female icon in the male-dominated urban world
Citylab profiles renown American urban planner Jane Jacobs, who broke into a male-dominated profession with a critical, female perspective on cities. Starting with writing about cities in Vogue, Jacobs came to forefront of the field by publishing Death and Life of Great American Cities, and with it not only changed the discourse on cities forever, with her community-centered ideas, but shed light on just how differently women and men view how cities have, do and can work. Read more here. IHC Global will follow in her footsteps in our ' Smart City. Just City.' blog series that will highlight women's urban perspectives.

A focus on land rights with Place.
This week, Place covered the broad spectrum of issues within women's access to land rights; showing the reality in Kenya, where women face eviction when their marriages end; lending a personal perspective on land rights in Ghana, and how improving them starts with educating women; and asking why, despite evidence showing its importance, there is still not enough data on the state of land rights and secure tenure for women.

Women are more affected by climate change and disasters than men.
According to UN data, 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. Acting as primary caregivers, women are more likely to be left caring for a vulnerable community while men search for economic opportunities. Alongside this statistic, women are also more likely to be affected by natural disasters than men, as more women are in poverty and have less socioeconomic power than men, making it much harder to recover from disasters that affect infrastructure, jobs and housing. Read more here.

What female futurists can tell us about what comes next.
Wired profiles five female urban futurists whose research, policies and new ideas are shaping the future of cities: Architect and Urban Futurist Cindy Frewen, University of Sydney Adjunct Professor for the Institute of Sustainable Futures Jennifer Gidley, Kedge LLC Co-Founder Yvette Montero Salvatico, Foresight Alliance Partner Terry Grim, and tech startup founder Cindy Gallop. Read more here.

Safer infrastructure means safer women.
Violence against women happens all around the world, but in slums and informal housing, it is only exacerbated by poor infrastructure, or lack thereof. In this op-ed for Devex, Susan Blaustein argues that providing infrastructure like street lighting, reliable access to safe water, sanitation, transport, and shelter is the first step to improving women's safety, and is a much more actionable goal than raising awareness and changing attitudes. Read more here.

IHC Global advocates for women's access to property rights.
IHC Global President and CEO Judith Hermanson penned her personal experience witnessing just how important women's access to property  rights is, during her time in South Africa.

Los Angeles had a 2017 heavy with natural disasters, and in the aftermath of forest fires and mudslides, the climate challenges that Los Angeles will face in the future were laid bare, and so were the persisting inequalities within the city. Los Angeles is a large, diverse city, and while different sections of the city are vulnerable to different disasters because of their placement, the inequality within the city makes different residents more vulnerable to the lasting effects of disasters because of their status as well. L.A. is planning on tackling these issues all at once, and last week, in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, it released a resilience strategy. The plan "treats environmental resilience and social equity as interdependent," and has socially-oriented programs like transit expansion and building housing units as line items in addition to environmental goals, like brush-clearing efforts to prevent wildfires. The steps the resilience strategy pledges to take highlight just how important an integrated, holistic approach to cities is, and spells out a more inclusive, sustainable future for Los Angeles.

Read more about the plan  here .

In celebration of World Water Day, the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development are hosting a workshop to discuss collaboration around the Global Water Strategy as the U.S. government's unified framework for addressing pressing water challenges through diplomacy, foreign assistance, science, and technology. This workshop is designed to engage external stakeholders and representatives of the more than 17 different government agencies involved in the creation and implementation of the Strategy. Presentations and panel discussions will provide attendees with an opportunity to increase their understanding of the Strategy's themes and strategic objectives and the whole-of-government approach. The event will include viewpoints from the U.S. Department of State, USAID, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Bureau for Reclamation, and other agencies to be confirmed. The morning sessions will be live streamed.

When: Tuesday, March 13, 2018
9 am-4 pm
Where: United States Institute of Peace
2301 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20037

Learn more about and RSVP for the event here.
Lack of land & property rights and insecure tenure arrangements affect millions of people across the globe, and contribute to the growth of slums, regular evictions, and heightened fear, insecurity, and vulnerability for urban and rural residents alike. Insecure property rights also have ripple effects on society, inhibiting both investment and economic growth. With the magnitude of this challenge, action to advance land and property rights needs to occur on every level, and through all means possible. As a side event complementary to the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference, join IHC Global for an exciting dialogue exploring a few of the many ways some of our members, Habitat for Humanity International, Global Land Alliance and Landesa, as well as IHC Global itself and Global Citizen Consulting are moving the dial on land and property rights. This session will explore how civil society organizations are coming at property rights 'from every angle', including through advocacy, data & research, innovative practice, and community engagement.

When: Friday, March 23, 2018
Where: Asia Room, Interaction Offices
1400 16th Street, NW Suite 210 
Washington, DC 20036

RSVP for the event  here .
In Seattle, homeless camps become a permanent part of the city.

The Issue
Seattle has one of the worst homelessness problems in the United States, and it is dealing with it in an unprecedented way. While homeless encampments are not unknown to cities in the United States, the city of Seattle has allowed 11 homeless camps to become permanent parts of the city. These are camps that did not crop up overnight, without permission or planning. Rather, these are orderly camps given government protection from raids, and with rights and rules such as the prohibition of alcohol and drug intoxication, self-appointed leaders, and the agreement for all residents to work volunteer security shifts. Within Seattle a debate has risen up about the experiment of these camps. Some are in favor, noting that these camps allow residents a semblance of constancy, sobriety, and community responsibility that can serve as stepping stones into better lives. Others fear that these camps are just a 'band-aid' for a much bigger affordable housing problem that the city needs to solve, and that the existence of the camps themselves take pressure off of the government for creating more permanent solutions.

How We See it
We often think of cities in developing countries as completely separate from cities in the developing world. Yes, there are challenges and issues prevalent in both contexts, but we often draw a hard line between the two. However, an issue such as this is a good reminder that there is much they can learn from each other. While lack of affordable housing plays out differently in the developed world (the prevalence of homelessness and high eviction rates) than the developing world (the massive growth of informal housing and slums), the root cause of the issue, and the complexity in finding permanent solutions is, in many respects, the same.

When it comes to housing solutions, striking the right balance between temporary improvement measures and permanent solutions is an issue that many cities in the developing world are very familiar with. With nearly one billion people in the developing world living in slums characterized by informal and haphazard housing, city governments must work simultaneously to improve living conditions 'in the now' for these residents, and to find permanent and sustainable housing solutions. Over many years, grassroots groups of the urban poor in cities of the developing world have gained extensive experience in organizing, negotiating, and working with local governments to improve their housing. Slum Dwellers International has worked with local federations of the urban poor across 33 countries, partnering them with affiliate non-governmental organizations that provide them with technical assistance and support. This model has enabled the urban poor in places from Nairobi to Mumbai to work alongside local governments for better housing and services.  While there are rational arguments both for and against the homeless camps in Seattle, the strength that they have enabled is for the formation of communities with leaders and a social contract that binds them. IHC Global hopes to see Seattle learn lessons from cities of the developing world, and hopes to see these homeless communities work with local non-profits and city governments and create more permanent solutions.

Read the full article here. To learn more about IHC Global's policy priorities, click here.
News In the news and around the web
  • Hold up: Cape Town may not run out of water after all
  • Bittersweet symphony: where is the world's noisiest city?
  • What is the math behind a localized approach to the SDGs?
  • A new study says cities emit 60% more carbon than expected.
  • REMINDER: Applications for the US-EU city pairings program are being accepted until March 30th
In case you missed it:
  • IHC Global talked to WUF9 attendees about their experience at the conference, and what they think it will mean for the future of urban development.

Picketers march for women's rights in honor of International Women's Day.
Source: NPR

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