Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Systems of Cities: Harnessing urbanization for growth and poverty alleviation

World Bank Urban and Local Government Strategy, November 2009
Cover of Executive Summary
The World Bank is putting forth its new Urban and Local Government Strategy at a critical time. For the first time in history more than half the world’s people live in cities. Over 90 percent of urban growth is occurring in the developing world, adding an estimated 70 million new residents to urban areas each year. During the next two decades, the urban population of the world’s two poorest regions—South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa—is expected to double.
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The new strategy also inaugurates the Decade of the City, a decade that will be remembered for recognizing cities at the core of growth and human development. Never before has there been so much interest in cities: city associations, citywide programs, city university and private sector partnerships. In developing countries, cities often provide the first opportunity for elected officials to meet their constituents, governments to collect taxes, taxpayers to demand efficient services, investors to start new businesses. This is where collective voices are heard and accountability matters.
GraphicSuccessful cities change their ways, improve their finances, attract private investors, and take care of the poor. The new Urban and Local Government Strategy will help governments at all levels make cities more equitable, efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. The strategy draws on two principles. First, that density, agglomeration, and proximity are fundamental to human advancement, economic productivity, and social equity. Second, that cities need to be well managed and sustainable.
The strategy unfolds along five business lines:
  1. city management, governance, and finance
  2. urban poverty
  3. cities and economic growth
  4. city planning, land, and housing
  5. urban environment, climate change, and disaster management
Green GraphicThese set out the objectives and benchmarks for the Bank to monitor its financing and policy advice. Most of our clients still face an immense lack of resources, and it will take some time until all the poor will be fully integrated in the city tissue. For this reason, the new strategy calls for a broader-based, scaled-up approach to urban poverty, focusing more than ever on policies and actions that can create livable cities.
The World Bank’s new Urban & Local Government Strategy aims to be a key element in helping civic leaders and national authorities think through, and implement, policies and programs for the benefit of their people, their cities, and their countries. I hope you will take a moment to look through this strategy and learn how we hope to make a difference.
Katherine Sierra
Vice-President, Sustainable Development