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February 5, 2016

This Week on Sustainable Urban Development: A Round Up of Stories Worth Sharing

Each week, we will round up news stories and articles on sustainable urban development that are worth sharing.   

Latin America has its first official urban resilience strategy.”

Porto Alegre in Brazil just rolled out its first resilience strategy - which is the first in Latin America.“Resilience is no longer an unknown concept here”, says Cezar Busatto, chief resilience officer for Porto Alegre. “Today it’s clear to the entire city that we need to strengthen our resilience to risks.” In order to formulate the strategy, the city conducted a participatory budgeting processes  wherein citizens had a say in the allocation of municipal funds. Mayor Jose Fortunati also pledged 10 percent of Porto Alegre’s budget to resilience projects.

"Are cities the next countries?" The OECD asks in its recent report.

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) released a report recently on Trends Shaping Education 2016 - and examined key trends that are affecting cities. “When we talk about countries, it’s often about what separates us, language and culture. But when you talk about cities, we face very similar challenges”, says education director Andreas Schleicher. He added, “Sharing policy lessons across countries is hard, because policy is so much framed in terms of ideology and political parties”. 

"Yet more evidence bike-share isn't reaching the poor"

A new study supports the concern that there are issues on equity and access in relation to the design and station location of bikeshare systems. This was evident in the cities of Chicago, Denver, Seattle and New York . "Boston did not show differences in the means of age or education, but it did show race and income disparities. Washington DC and Arlington were the most equitable among the variables and cities in this study, but did show differences in household income variables.In all cases, the traditionally more disadvantaged groups had less access to bikeshare." 

"The Dutch (obviously) are building a bike lane out of wood"

“A city in the Netherlands is trying out what might be the most Dutch plan yet conceived: a bike path made of recycled wood. The first of its kind in the world, the proposed path near the city of Emmen would be surfaced not with the usual asphalt or tarmac but with paving slabs formed from wood chips packed together with organic resin. To give the path an even daintier carbon footprint, it will be lit with eco-dynamic LED lighting made with bio-composite that lights brightly only when passing riders trigger sensors.”

"Corruption: The new urban agenda's elephant in the room"

“First, it is imperative that the potentially devastating role of corruption and the urgency to tackle this challenge are recognized as a priority ambition for human settlements and their development over the coming decades.” Secondly, “policymakers and city governments cannot go it alone. Working toward cities of integrity requires concerted efforts by a variety of stakeholders — NGOs, business, citizens and the urban practitioners and urbanists that think about cities and their development for a living.”  

"10 people-centered smart city initiatives" , according to Nesta

Rethinking Cities from the Ground Up, a new report from Nesta, showcases strories of urban areas around the world that are using smart city ideas to address urban challenges. Key findings include: "Many ‘top down’ smart city ideas have failed to deliver on their promise, combining high costs and low returns and that collaborative technologies’ offer cities another way to make smarter use of resources, smarter ways of collecting data and smarter ways to make decisions. " Example of people-centered smart city initiatives are found here