Major transformations to solve urban inequality

This blog post ends up being a synthesis of a synthesis, so you might want to click through to the article explaining seven major transformations to solve urban inequality, or even to the World Resources Report Towards a More Equal City. But here are some of the highlights.

The report “finds that one in three urban residents globally are under-served by municipal services. This divide between those who have access to services and those who do not is worsening due to rampant, poorly managed growth in cities.”

The research identifies seven crucial transformations to reimagine how services are provided in cities, bring in the excluded, and create the right conditions for lasting changes. The report recommends cross-sectoral transformations that can “lift residents out of poverty while creating economic, environmental and social benefits for all.”

If global temperatures increase by 2 degrees C, 2.7 billion people, or 29% of the global population, will be exposed to moderate or high climate-related risks by 2050. Of these people, 91% to 98% will be living in Asia and Africa.

Infrastructure Design & Delivery: Prioritizing the Vulnerable
“Municipal infrastructure must be designed and delivered to prioritize neglected populations, address existing backlogs to basic services, minimize carbon lock-in and anticipate future risks.”

Service Provision Models: Partnering with Alternative Service Providers
“Rather than ignore alternative service providers, cities can integrate these alternative services into their plans for short- and medium- term development including through partnerships that deliver accessible services to more people.”

Data Collection Practices: Improving Local Data Through Community Engagement
“Despite all the data that exists today, many cities do not have granular, local data to help identify where and how vulnerable populations live. New technologies, partnerships and community engagement can generate better local data for decision making and improve governance.”

Informal Urban Employment: Recognizing and Supporting Informal Workers
Globally, 2 billion workers operate in the informal economy, they represent 50% to 80% of the urban workforce in the global south and supply many a variety of essential goods and services to cities. “Recognizing and supporting informal workers and expanding their access to public space, services, customers and social safety nets can improve livelihoods and economic resilience of cities.”

Financing and Subsidies: Increasing Investment and Targeting Funds Innovatively
The needs of underserved populations require massive investment that cities often can’t muster, “cities, countries and investors need to increase investment and target it innovatively to fill the gap in affordable urban services.” Solutions like participatory budgeting processes, as well as targeted subsidies can also get money where it is needed most.

Urban Land Management: Promoting Transparency and Integrated Spatial Planning

Urban areas are expected to grow by 80% between 2018 and 2030. Most cities are growing outward unsustainably, with a rising number of informal settlements. This will also increase spatial inequality, or unequal access to services and opportunities based on location.

Land and housing markets need to be transparent, well-regulated, and integrate spatial planning in order to deliver services equitably and manage growth sustainably.

Governance and Institutions: Creating Diverse Coalitions and Alignment
“Cities need a shared vision and aligned policies across government levels and departments, but as cities have grown rapidly, existing institutional structures and governance processes have become inadequate to meet their needs.”

The decisions made today can embed poverty, deny opportunity and widen the urban services divide in ways that grow harder and harder to reverse. They also can lock in high energy consumption and carbon emissions for decades to come, worsening the risks of climate change.

Image: mikolajn/Shutterstock.