A city must pay utmost attention to the health and needs of its citizens and the well-being of its communities if it is to be a harmonious and successful city, whose development could be sustained over time.
Today, re-examining defunct models of communities in cities is a challenge that policymakers around the world are struggling to address. With the worldwide phenomenon of increasing concentration of poverty in cities and rapid environmental degradation, which lead to urban insecurity that prevents development in these cities, this is a task that is imperative for the stability, and even survival, of the cities.
Cities Without Slums: Cornerstone of Today’s Urban Development
However, the growing number of slums in cities attests to the increasing difficulty that cities are experiencing to ensure the health of their communities, and this is a problem with far-reaching implications. Besides stunting the general human development of a segment of a city’s community—the slum dwellers, whose priorities must be focused on meeting their basic needs for food and housing— slums have other negative consequences on the development of cities. This is because addressing issues that are common in slums— such as overcrowding, unsanitary living conditions, criminality, social unrest, and economic inefficiency—take resources away from a city’s budget, which could otherwise be spent on more constructive urban development projects such as infrastructure-building. Thus, the sustainable success of cities depends significantly on their ability to meet the needs of the urban poor, the most vulnerable part of their population.
“Cities present an unparalleled opportunity for the simultaneous attainment of most if not all of the internationally agreed development goals.”
UN-HABITAT State of World’s Cities Report 2006/7
Slum: neglected parts of cities where housing and living conditions are appallingly poor. Slums range from high density, squalid central city tenements to spontaneous squatter settlements without legal recognition or rights, sprawling at the edge of cities.
Source : Cities Without Slums : Action Plan for Moving Slum Upgrading to Scale, World Bank Group, 1999
Indeed, improving the conditions of urban slum dwellers and the eradication of extreme poverty are at the heart of global development agenda, a representative piece of which is the UN Millennium Development Goals (see box below), signed by all the world’s countries and leading development institutions. Given the concentration of people in urban environments, how we shape and structure cities today directly impact the international community’s ability to meet the globally accepted goals.
In this context, and with the sub-theme of “Remodelling of Communities in the City,” EXPO Shanghai 2010 will place great emphasis on using the Expo to explore new models of communities in cities. The envisioned communities will be bound by strong social cohesion, where development initiatives take a people-oriented approach.
UN Millennium Development Goals:
1. End Poverty and Hunger
2. Universal Education
3. Gender Equality
4. Child Health
5. Maternal Health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS
7. Environmental Sustainability
8. Global Partnership
Source: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/, accessed February 2009