Equity and Prosperity of Cities
A prosperous citycan only self-sustain if it is inclusive and equitable in nature. An equitable city reduces poverty and inequality by ensuring a systematic re-distribution of the economic benefits of development. An inclusive city protects the rights of all its residents, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalized groups, and it takes steps to promote gender equality, minority rights, etc. A prosperous city is also cognizant of its cultural diversity, and is characterized by respecting differences in lifestyles and expressions, including ethnicity, language, religion, historical origins, values and beliefs.
The Urban Advantage
Urbanization is a transformative process. As countries urbanize, they advance, develop and become richer - in simultaneously as we observe in some cases; but equally we have witnessed the perverse outcome of chaotic urbanization resulting in slum formation, the physical manifestation of urban poverty. As urbanization is predominantly propelled by the search for opportunities to realize the human potential, the search for prosperity is thus one of the main drivers behind the existence of cities. Prosperity is the essence of progress and the way development positively materializes. Prosperity is the desired future for our cities, our equitable, diverse and inclusive cities.
Even if urbanization is not happening at the same pace and shape in different regions, urban culture is becoming a truly global experience. Despite clear growth disparities, reversals and problems, the benefits associated with urbanization is clearly evident: Life expectancy, infant mortality, absolute poverty and deprivation, and other development indicators, show general improvements almost everywhere. People in both developed and developing countries live longer, healthier and more productive lives than anyone could conceive to be possible two-hundred years ago, when the human existence was predominantly rural, with less than 3 per cent of the total population living in urban areas.
Unfortunately progress has not been evenly spread and prosperity has not come to everyone. The process of urbanization and its intended benefits has not been without its share of problems: Poverty, child labor, human exploitation, poor access to education and healthcare, environmental pollution, loss of traditional knowledge, culture and identity, etc. are rampant in many parts of the world. The inequality that urbanization fosters is the Achilles’ heel of prosperity. It is what compromises the future of our cities.
The discussion will focus on multi-dimensional deprivations that tend to characterize depressed areas of the city with a view to bridge the widening gap in assets and to foster equity, including settlement improvement and upgrading of slums. Participation and involvement of stakeholders in realizing sustainable urban development will be an important point for discussion.