Global Urban Development Magazine

 

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May 2005

Current Issue Contents:

Economic Strategy

Economic Development

in a Flat World

Growing Out of Poverty

Leveraging Private Financing

for Development

Expanding Local Government Resources

Learning from Ireland

Environmental Challenge

'Greening' Major Public Events

Urban Transportation

and the MDGs

Financing Urban Housing

Sustainable Urban Development

 in the UAE

 Post-Tsunami Reconstruction

 in Indonesia

Financing Public Transportation

People & Community Assets

 Informal Settlements

and the MDGs

Microcredit Summit Campaign's Future Challenges

Role of Urban Grassroots Organizations in Reducing Poverty

A Home in the City

Local Government Actions

to Reduce Poverty

The Public Sector and

Affordable Housing

Gender Equality

Taking Action to Empower Women

Gender Equality and

Urban Development

Protecting Victims of

Human Trafficking

Empowering Low-Income Women through Media Technology

Toward Universal

Primary Education

Urban Heritage

 Urban Heritage Conservation

 and Renewable Energy

Creative Arts and

Regional Economies

About the Authors

Editorial Guidelines

Previous Issues

May 2005

 

Published by
Global Urban Development





Executive Editor:
Dr. Marc A. Weiss

Managing Editor:
Nancy Sedmak-Weiss

 

Volume 2                    Issue 1                    March  2006


METROPOLITAN ECONOMIC STRATEGY

Economic Development in a Flat World: Global Trade, Technology, Investment, Incomes, Employment, Education, and Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century

Thomas L. Friedman

This article focuses on what sort of policies developing countries need to undertake in order to create the right environment for their companies and entrepreneurs to thrive in a flat world, although many of the things I am about to say apply to many developed countries as well.  When developing countries start thinking about the challenge of flatism, the first thing they need to do is engage in some brutally honest introspection.  A country, its people and leaders alike, has to be honest with itself and look clearly at exactly where it stands in relation to other countries and in relation to the 10 flatteners.  It has to ask itself, "To what extent is my country advancing or being left behind by the flattening of the world, and to what extent is it adapting to and taking advantage of all the new platforms for collaboration and competition?"  more

Growing out of Poverty: Urban Job Creation and the Millennium Development Goals

Marja Kuiper and Kees van der Ree

This article explains how improvements in infrastructure, housing, and services would be much more sustainable if supported by the simultaneous promotion of decent employment opportunities to reduce urban poverty.  Employment provides households with the financial means necessary to ensure access to adequate housing, essential services, and basic needs.  A decent living requires decent work.  The challenge is twofold: not only are many more jobs required to absorb the ever-growing urban workforce but, equally important, strategies are also needed to enhance the quality of urban work in terms of returns to labor productivity, workers’ incomes, and working conditions.  more

Leveraging Private Financing and Investment for Economic and Community Development

Marc A. Weiss

In this article I will address the specific issue of leveraging private financing and investment for economic and community development, primarily in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods that are not generally thriving through the normal operations of private market activity.  These are communities that need some additional public assistance to promote new investment in business growth and job creation, affordable housing and homeownership, transportation and infrastructure, stores and services, schools and safety, environment and amenities, and all of the other features that generate, sustain, and enhance economic prosperity and quality of life for everyone.  more

Expanding Local Government Resources for Capital Projects through Municipal Borrowing and other Market-Based Financing

Charles J. Billand

An exciting paradigm shift is emerging in developing and transitional economies.  With increased decentralization and urbanization, local governments have taken on greater responsibility in the provision of basic municipal services.  To help fund education, solid waste management, water and sanitation, and other economic development projects, municipalities have turned to innovative financing mechanisms to meet local demand.  Since central government support cannot finance the service needs of most municipalities, local governments are increasingly turning to: (1) own-source revenues such as taxes, licenses and permits, user fees for services, and municipal assets; and (2) borrowing from private capital markets. This article provides an overview of the paradigm shift that is occurring in many developing countries and the movement towards market-based municipal financing, and serves to assist public officials in designing strategies that increase the supply of local government resources to finance infrastructure, housing, health care, education, economic development, and other services.  more

The Seattle Region’s Study Mission to Dublin: Learning from Ireland’s Success in Competing for Employment and Income Growth in the Global Economy

William B. Stafford and Sam Kaplan

International trade is a vital part of the economy of the Puget Sound Region centered around Seattle, Washington.  This globalized economic perspective is the foundation for the Greater Seattle International Study Mission program initiated in 1992.  Annual delegations composed of metropolitan Seattle’s leaders from government, business, education, communications media, labor, and the non-profit sector, visit dynamic urban regions in other countries for an entire week, to learn from their successes and failures. Seattle’s most recent International Study Mission in May 2005 was to Dublin.  Ireland is a particularly interesting example for the Puget Sound Region.  Metropolitan Dublin and the Republic of Ireland have experienced recent success and now must confront new competitive challenges in an increasingly globalized world.  more

FACING THE ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGE

Producing Environmentally Sustainable Olympic Games and ‘Greening’ Major Public Events

Tom Roper

This article will concentrate on the pluses and minuses of major events including sports, entertainment, conventions, and conferences.  In particular, the article focuses on the drive for environmental sustainability, carbon neutrality, and reducing potentially harmful ecological impacts of major events.  The 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, placed the environment on the sporting world’s agenda.  For the first time comprehensive environmental action was planned and implemented at a large-scale sports event.  Sport is a vehicle for capturing the public’s attention, and therefore can be important for helping to change public attitudes.  The legacy and knowledge gained from one major event can become the minimum standard for future events so that learning curves can become less steep, and even further progress can be encouraged.  Replication, adaptation, and innovation are the touchstones for initiating a long-term cycle of continuous environmental improvement.  There is no reason why any major public event, from its planning to execution, should not be sustainably “green”.  more

Urban Transportation and the Millennium Development Goals

Walter Hook

The initial recommendations for transport that came out of the UN Millennium Project, an effort to clarify the implementation goals for the MDGs, were written by people unfamiliar with the transport sector.  They were heavily focused on increasing governmental spending on new road construction, and included targets for miles of new roads to be constructed.  Experts from the World Bank and NGOs lobbied only partially successfully to change this approach, with the result that the final recommendations of the Millennium Project also make little mention of transport.  While glad that a misdirected approach has been avoided, no clearer, better targeted program has yet emerged.  This article is an effort to set clearer targets and goals for transport interventions that will help meet the Millennium Development Goals.  It is focused on urban transport interventions, but similar goals also should be set for rural transport.   more

Financing Urban Housing: United Nations Global Report on Human Settlements

Donatus Okpala, Naison Mutizwa-Mangiza, and Iouri Moisseev

More than 2 billion people will be added to the number of urban dwellers in the developing countries over the next 25 years.  This implies an unprecedented growth in the demand for housing, water supply, sanitation and other urban infrastructure services.  This new challenge exists in a context of already widespread poverty and inequality in cities, with millions of people living in slums without adequate basic services.  Providing these services to new residents will be essential if this additional population is not to be trapped in urban poverty, poor health and low productivity.  It is an urban problem with significant macroeconomic consequences.  This Global Report examines the urgent challenge of financing urban shelter development over the next generation.  Part I presents the macro-economic, shelter policy and urban finance contexts of financing urban shelter development.  Part II describes and assesses recent global trends in shelter finance, including mortgage finance, financing for social housing, shelter microfinance and shelter community funds.  Part III provides an overall assessment of the shelter financing systems analyzed in Part II and examines policy directions towards sustainable shelter finance systems.  The Epilogue in Part III examines the implications of the report’s findings on sustainable urban shelter policy.  more

Encouraging Sustainable Urban Development in the United Arab Emirates

Habiba Al Marashi

Taking up the cause of sustainable urban development, the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), a leading non-government organization based in Dubai, has emerged as one of the most active civil society organizations in the United Arab Emirates.  EEG, as it is popularly known, has been a pioneering force behind the mainstreaming of such potent issues as education for sustainable development, waste management, and separation of recyclable materials at source, the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), water and energy conservation, renewable energy production, sustainable transportation, public transit, combating desertification by expanding urban green spaces, promoting recourse efficient green buildings, and encouraging corporate social responsibility.  EEG’s operations are targeted at building effective outreach among key stakeholders including governments, businesses, communities, and civil society groups. EEG’s vision is to facilitate a green and sustainable UAE.  more

Post-Tsunami Reconstruction in Indonesia

Emiel A. Wegelin

Early in the reconstruction process, the Indonesian government in its strategy notes acknowledged the pivotal importance of rebuilding housing as part of the overall redevelopment strategy.  The government’s approach to rebuilding housing embraced rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in shelter and community infrastructure by the surviving victims themselves in the location where they lived before the Tsunami, and the need to support these community efforts as the core approach to government and international community support.  Indonesia’s Reconstruction Master Plan set two core standards for tsunami victim household support: 1) that each surviving household would be entitled to grant funds to rebuild their houses, with amounts of about US$3,000 per house if it needed to be rebuilt from scratch, and 2) about US$1,000 for damaged houses that could still be renovated.  Grant funds also were allocated for repair and reconstruction of community infrastructure. On the basis of these grant fund commitments, a housing reconstruction program for 85,000 new houses and 17,000 houses to be renovated was planned at a total price tag of US$280 million (not including community infrastructure), to be carried out over a period of three to four years.  Given the generous financial assistance pledges for post-tsunami reconstruction coming from international donors, the Indonesian government believed that sufficient resources would be available to support the housing reconstruction program.  more

Innovative Methods of Financing Public Transportation

Dave Wetzel

The income from fares is usually insufficient to pay for both the capital costs and operating expenses of a modern mass transit system. Public transportation managers strive to provide safe, efficient, affordable, reliable, comfortable, clean, and convenient journeys for passengers.  The service provided not only enables millions of people to travel but also has wider economic, social, and environmental impacts on urban life.  When planning for new public transportation investments, wider economic benefits are usually cited as an important reason for governments to provide subsidies towards the costs of construction and maintenance. Apart from people who use public transportation systems, international studies over many years have shown that there is an additional beneficiary who plays no direct part in contributing to transportation financing, but who gains a disproportionate share of the economic benefits arising from building and operating rail and bus lines. It is no fault of the public transportation industry that governments choose to ignore private windfall property value gains generated by public investment.  No longer should transportation planners go hat in hand to governments for subsidies to fund new projects or maintain and renew existing lines.  As long as large numbers of people are riding the trains, then we now know that in addition to revenue from fares, the railway can generate its own finances from the increased land values.  more

TREATING PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES AS ASSETS

Informal Settlements and the Millennium Development Goals: Global Policy Debates on Property Ownership and Security of Tenure

Alain Durand-Lasserve

The urban poor and large segments of low- and moderate-income groups have no choice but to rely on informal land and housing markets for access to land and shelter, thus fostering the expansion of irregular settlements in cities.  Informal land and housing delivery systems remain the only realistic alternative for meeting the needs of low-income households.  For at least three decades (ever since the expansion of “irregular” settlements has been perceived as a lasting structural phenomenon), the debate on housing policy insistently refers to the question of the informality and illegality of human settlements.  The term “informality” raises the same definitional problems for human settlements as when it is applied to economic activities and to employment: it is defined negatively.  Its main characteristics are known, but in many situations the borderline between formal and informal remains blurred.  A settlement with the same characteristics regarding land, urban planning, and housing (depending on the contexts and public authority interpretations), can be considered either as formal or informal. Settlement type also has direct ramifications on the core issue of impact on the lives of slum dwellers:  tenure.  Land tenure refers to the rights of individuals or groups in relation to land.  The exact nature and content of these rights, the extent to which people have confidence that they will be honored, and their various degrees of recognition by the public authorities and communities concerned, will all have a direct impact on how land will be used. Tenure often involves a complex set of rules.  Some users may have access to full use and transfer rights.  Other users may be more legally limited in their use of these resources, which illustrates both the diversity of rights to land and the existence of a wide range of options, from full ownership to less singular forms of possession and use.  more

Building on Accomplishment: The Microcredit Summit Campaign’s Future Challenges for Global Poverty Reduction and Economic Empowerment

Sam Daley-Harris

Instead of business as usual, what is required is a revolution in the way we fight poverty.  Grameen Bank Managing Director Muhammad Yunus gave an example of the revolutionary action required when he was asked about his strategy for creating the Grameen Bank.  “I didn’t have a strategy,” Professor Yunus replied, “I just kept doing what was next.  But when I look back, my strategy was, whatever banks did, I did the opposite.  If banks lent to the rich, I lent to the poor.  If banks lent to men, I lent to women.  If banks made large loans, I made small ones.  If banks required collateral, my loans were collateral free.  If banks required a lot of paperwork, my loans were illiterate friendly.  If you had to go to the bank, my bank went to the village.  Yes, that was my strategy.  Whatever banks did, I did the opposite.”  If we are to end poverty, we not only need to make way for the revolutionaries, but we must also follow their lead.  All too often, however, the move within the field of microfinance is to be more like banks, often with the unintended consequence of once again failing to provide financial products and services to the very poor, once again denying them tools they need for a dignified route out of poverty.  One thing the Microcredit Summit Campaign and many of the microfinance practitioners it supports worldwide have learned is that microfinance is an incomplete solution for many poor people and that its impact can be magnified if used in combination with complementary strategies. If a family raises its daily income from US$0.50 to US$1.50 through microcredit, its members might still be no more knowledgeable about basic health topics and other life skills such as the importance of vaccinating children against preventable diseases or learning how to prevent HIV/AIDS.  This lack of knowledge and the resulting illnesses can swiftly undo the improvement in a family’s economic situation.  more

The Role of Urban Grassroots Organizations and Their National Federations in Reducing Poverty and Achieving the Millennium Development Goals

Celine d’Cruz and David Satterthwaite

This article is about the current and potential role of what the United Nations terms “slum dwellers” and their own organizations, in achieving significant improvements in their lives and thus in contributing to Target 11 of the Millennium Development Goals (to achieve significant improvements in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020).  The work of the urban poor and homeless federations in Asia and Africa is perhaps the most significant initiative today in these regions in addressing urban poverty – both in terms of what they have achieved and in terms of what they can achieve, given appropriate financial and administrative support.  In at least 12 nations, these federations are engaged in many community-driven initiatives to upgrade slums and squatter settlements, to develop new housing that low-income households can afford, and to improve provision for infrastructure and services (including water, sanitation, and drainage).  They also are supporting their members to develop more stable livelihoods, and working with governments to show how city redevelopment can avoid evictions and minimize relocations.  Comparable federations are expanding in other nations.  The foundations for these federations are thousands of savings groups formed and managed by urban poor groups.  Women are particularly attracted to these groups because they provide emergency credit quickly and easily; their savings also can accumulate and help fund housing improvements or employment generation.  These savings groups are the building blocks of what begins as a local process and develops into citywide and national federations.  more

A Home in the City: UN Millennium Project Report on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers

Pietro Garau, Elliot D. Sclar, and Gabriella Y. Carolini

These issues have not been given the attention they deserve, and without significant urgent action and reforms, the situation will worsen.  Indeed, inaction may exacerbate social instability, urban violence, and crime.  At the same time, by neglecting these issues, we lose the opportunity to benefit from urban growth and wealth creation.  This urban challenge dictates a much broader and more ambitious approach than the improvement of a portion of the world’s estimated slum dwellers summarized in target 11 and subsumed under Goal 7.  Slum upgrading, improved urban planning and design, and the provision of adequate alternatives to new slum formation must become core business for local and national governments alike and supported by international development agencies.  Ample evidence over the past 20 years shows that the urban poor themselves can provide the central impetus for change toward good governance.  Governments, especially local governments, have also demonstrated that they can develop the capacity to use their mandates and resources for sound and participatory urban development policy, if such policies are rooted in a political leadership that is committed to a democratic and equitable vision of civil society in all spheres of government.  What is needed is the vision, the commitment, and the resources to bring all actors together and to do the sensible things that are the tasks of well governed cities — providing political and economic opportunity, improving services and the quality of public space, planning for future needs, expanding local sources of revenue, attracting investment — in active cooperation and dialogue with all citizens, especially slum dwellers, both women and men.  more

Local Government Actions to Reduce Poverty and Achieve the Millennium Development Goals

Mona Serageldin, Elda Solloso, and Luis Valenzuela

The cases reviewed in this article document the range and diversity of local government initiatives that improve the lives of slum dwellers.  Acting on a range of challenges requires a multifaceted approach. Infrastructure is a dominant component.  This reflects the priority placed on access to services.  Water supply is a particularly important issue for women and girls who in many cultures have traditionally been assigned the task of fetching water for the family.  Concern with sanitation among slum dwellers increases in parallel with the deterioration of conditions in the settlements, as densities rise and overcrowding becomes the norm with multiple families on the same lot, sharing highly inadequate facilities. Adequate access roads, drainage, and transport are essential to integrate peripheral and marginalized settlements in the urban fabric and economy.  In the face of growing disparities and economic downturns, promoting local development has to include the necessity of opening up employment and income generation opportunities for impoverished populations.  The case studies reflect the growing importance of local initiatives to support small businesses and micro-enterprises, with and without outside support.  Housing is addressed through a variety of mechanisms ranging from subsidized credit to providing accommodations, to resettling populations living in environmentally hazardous zones, to developing serviced sites and housing for lower income groups.  The importance placed on living conditions by slum dwellers can be gauged from the speed at which home improvements are initiated after security of occupancy is granted and settlements regularized.  All wage earners in the household contribute cash, building materials and supplies, labor, and furnishings.  more

The Role of the Public Sector in Promoting Affordable Housing

Peter Marcuse

Two general concepts stand out from a review of the housing practices that have been used to address the problems of slum dwellers: one is that the provision of appropriate land is the key to any further improvement, and that the use of government power is essential to that provision; the other is that no serious improvement can take place without significant costs, which can ultimately be paid for through government resources.  more

BUILDING GENDER EQUALITY IN URBAN LIFE

Taking Action to Empower Women: UN Millennium Project Report on Education and Gender Equality

Caren Grown, Geeta Rao Gupta, and Aslihan Kes

How can the global community achieve the goal of gender equality and the empowerment of women?  This question is the focus of Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals endorsed by world leaders at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 and of this report, prepared by the UN Millennium Project Task Force on Education and Gender Equality. The report argues that there are many practical steps that can reduce inequalities based on gender, inequalities that constrain the potential to reduce poverty and achieve high levels of well-being in societies around the world.  There are also many positive actions that can be taken to empower women.  Without leadership and political will, however, the world will fall short of taking these practical steps — and meeting the goal.  Because gender inequality is deeply rooted in entrenched attitudes, societal institutions, and market forces, political commitment at the highest international and national levels is essential to institute the policies that can trigger social change and to allocate the resources necessary to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment. Many decades of organizing and advocacy by women’s organizations and networks across the world have resulted in global recognition of the contributions that women make to economic development and of the costs to societies of persistent inequalities between women and men.  The success of those efforts is evident in the promises countries have made over the past two decades through international forums.  The inclusion of gender equality and women’s empowerment as the third Millennium Development Goal is a reminder that many of those promises have not been kept, while simultaneously offering yet another international policy opportunity to implement them.  more

Gender Equality and Urban Development: Building Better Communities for Everyone

Monika Jaeckel and Marieke van Geldermalsen

When looking at cities from a gender perspective, one of the main differences affecting the use of urban space is in terms of female and male care-giving roles and responsibilities.  Due to the gender-specific division of labor, women do most of the direct care-giving work within families and communities.  As such, women are central to urban planning and development, both as key users of urban space in their role as home managers, and as key producers of residential environments in their role as community leaders and initiators of neighborhood networks. The current development of urban infrastructure and the built environment needs to be redesigned to promote greater gender equality in the use and benefits of urban space.  Many of the past and present trends in urban planning and development reflect the male perspective regarding the role of women as primary caregivers.  Viewing families, communities, towns, cities, and regions from a gender perspective requires a radical shift both in thinking and in actions. This article summarizes basic principles that can inform urban planning, policies, and programs in the process of redesigning and redeveloping urban areas to be more gender-sensitive, inclusive, and responsive to everyone’s needs.  more

Protecting the Victims of Human Trafficking

Bianca Jagger

Three years ago, I went to India to support and learn about Sanlaap, an organization working in the red-light areas in and around Calcutta.  Its work includes preventing the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation.  At one of its shelter homes, called Sneha, I met 48 girls aged between 10 and 18 who had been rescued from enforced prostitution.  An estimated 400,000 children are being trafficked and forced into prostitution for sexual exploitation in India.  Typically, they suffer unspeakable levels of violence, cruelty and betrayal — they are beaten, burnt by cigarettes, repeatedly raped, and forced to endure sex without condoms.  Many contract HIV/AIDS and die.  A few are offered a lifeline.  Sneha, meaning affection, is exactly that lifeline.  At the shelter, the girls receive healthcare and counseling.  They are taught skills to equip them for work away from the violence and servitude of the city's brothels.  I firmly believe that the Sneha project has something to teach the west, not least Britain, about dealing with the trafficking of women and children into prostitution, slavery and even death.  Britain needs to stop treating women forced into prostitution as criminals.  They are automatically criminalized.  They are seen as "illegal immigrants" first and victims of crime second, if at all.  We need to start seeing them as deeply vulnerable victims of a global "trade" that is reckoned to earn the criminal underworld more revenue than any except drugs or arms.  It is a vast money-spinner and the commodities are female bodies.  more

Building Bridges with the Grassroots: Empowering Low-Income Women Through Information and Communications Media Technology

Theo Schilderman and Otto Ruskulis

Visits to two informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya identified that women’s groups, largely very informally organized, undertake neighborhood improvement activities and waste management, and function as self-help and action groups.  The impact of the women’s actions is constrained by their lack of status in their own communities, remoteness from decisionmaking processes, limited contacts outside their own group, and inadequate access to information. Access to information is becoming increasingly important to people’s everyday lives throughout the world.  The development of new information and communications technologies (ICTs) such as the internet, email, and CD-ROM has been a significant factor in this accelerating trend.  Much of the information disseminated through new ICTs, however, is in written format and often in English or another European language.  The women’s groups in the informal settlements in Nairobi had gained little from the development of new ICTs.  Many of the women had limited or no literacy and did not use English. Video was therefore chosen as a new ICT medium that could be made more accessible to the women’s groups as literacy is not a primary requirement to make videos.  Also, as the medium is largely visual, and it is the images that leave an impression on the viewer, the commentary can be added in the language of the intended audience.  The Women’s Information and Communications Technology (WICT) project was a small pilot project looking at how ICTs can effectively be used by poor marginalized women to strengthen their largely oral skills to communicate their need for improved livelihoods.  more

Toward Universal Primary Education: UN Millennium Project Report on Education and Gender Equality

Nancy Birdsall, Ruth Levine, and Amina Ibrahim

Countries that are unlikely to achieve the goal of universal primary education by 2015 face two challenges: they must simultaneously address shortfalls in access and in quality.  They must significantly accelerate the enrollment of children and improve their ability to keep children in school, and they must achieve major improvements in learning outcomes and educational attainment at a level required to have an economic and social impact.  Increasing access and improving quality are mutually reinforcing; if schools cannot offer a good-quality education, parents are far less likely to send their children to school.  Higher levels of enrollment and longer retention in school can be stimulated in three ways: focusing on specific interventions to reach out-of-school children, increasing the educational opportunities (formal and nonformal) for girls and women, and increasing access to post-primary education.  All of these approaches take into account the powerful demand-side influences that affect the propensity of parents to send their children to school.  Two major strategies can be used to address these challenges: getting out-of-school children into school and creating better institutions and more favorable incentives.  The first strategy involves overcoming both demand- and supply-side constraints to enrollment and retention.  The second requires successfully addressing serious and pervasive institutional shortcomings, many of which are linked to dysfunctional incentives for administrators and teachers.  more

CELEBRATING OUR URBAN HERITAGE

Innovative Strategies for Urban Heritage Conservation, Sustainable Development, and Renewable Energy

Luigi Fusco Girard

Heritage conservation should be an important part of a more general urban economic development strategy of city, as well as a spatial development strategy.  At the same time, it must also be part of an energy conservation and renewable resources utilization strategy.  For example, “solar city strategies” can promote closer integration of the economic and ecological systems, such that urban environmental economics can be implemented to foster sustainable prosperity and quality of life.  A strategy based on renewable energy can positively affect the physical structure of a city, both its form and its building architecture.  Strategies for conserving the built environment are designed to preserve and enhance cultural, historic, and artistic values, and more importantly, to provide a set of economic and social benefits and contribute to improving the quality and sustainability of the urban ecology.  Urban planning and spatial development policy can be both economic and ecological if the overall systems are balanced, starting with energy production and consumption.  Conservation of urban heritage can be genuinely sustainable to the extent that it revitalizes communities by creating a dynamic, growth-oriented mix of new functions that regenerate economic and social life, while at the same time reducing energy consumption and increasing the use of renewable resources.  more

Can the Creative Arts Strengthen Regional Economies?

Neal Peirce and Curtis Johnson 

Can New England’s creative arts help to sculpt the region’s economy for the century? Five years ago the business-led New England Council, executives from such fields as manufacturing and banking, took a bold step.  In a special report, they celebrated the region’s growing “creative economy.”  They saw that the region's fine arts, music and drama fields were not only growing but inspiring such other fields of imaginative design as architecture, photography, film and web design.  The resulting 245,000-job sector, they reported, was growing twice as fast as New England’s overall economy. If there were skeptics back then, there are many fewer today. In our interviews, no one claimed a creative economy solves all problems.  But we found growing numbers focusing on the arts as key to their lives and livelihoods in what’s become a bleak season for traditional manufacturing, lumbering and fishing.   more

 

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