Tuvalu from the air (photo courtesy of Dr.Julia Edwards)
This blog provides a front line report from Tuvalu, a small island state in the Pacific. Tuvalu is going through urbanization on a scale it has never experienced before, and is also struggling to adapt to the impacts of climate change. This remote and tiny place, so far removed from the global cities which are shaping its future, provides a laboratory specimen of the fate of a small island state in today’s world. Read more »
Cliff Hague in Pingyao, a historic city now part of a much larger and growing agglomeration
I have referred to Chinese urbanisation several times in these blogs, but make no apologies for returning to the topic. What is happening in China should be of interest to planners, urbanists, environmentalists and economic development professionals everywhere. In part this is because of the sheer scale of the changes – a rural to urban shift on steroids! Since the economic reforms began in 1978, China’s urban residents have increased by over 500 million. We now have an English version of China’s own State of the Chinese Cities 2012-13 report. It claims that “China has entered a new path of sustainable urbanization with its characteristics such as integration and coordination of urban and rural areas, interactive development between industries and cities, saving and intensive use of natural resources, ecological and liveable environment, and harmonious development.” Read more »
I would like to award the prize for the best contribution to environmental sustainability for 2012 to Hurricane Sandy. Sandy single-handedly managed to convert more American citizens to the threats posed by climate change than any number of scientists, scientific publications or politicians. By dumping extreme weather on the US eastern seaboard, massively disrupting transport and business, and above all by providing great TV pictures, it made a strong case in many different ways. Read more »
Outstanding mosaics in Paphos
Last week in Cyprus, I was able to get some insights into the development challenges facing this part of Europe. In a snapshot, Mediterranean islands like Cyprus were early cradles of urbanisation and often have a rich archaeological legacy. They were poor agricultural areas until mass tourism began in the 1970s. The boom saw the spread of urban uses along the coasts and around the villages, often undermining of the quality of the places that people were attracted to. Now these places face austerity and threats from climate change. Read more »
Natural disasters like this earthquake in China are one reason for the growing interest in building resilient cities. (Photo by Dr.Zhang Bing).
I should have been in Abuja this week to speak at the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners conference on “Building Resilient Cities”. Due to lack of time to get a visa, I could not make it. However, I did write a paper and this blog is a summary of it. It reviews current thinking about the idea of resilient cities. This is a theme I have explored in previous blogs on this site.
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Rapid urban growth and new business opportunities: Kuala Lumpur
The next generation is going to witness a staggering amount of new urban development as the world’s economic centre of gravity shifts towards Asia. Cities in both developed and rapidly urbanising countries need professional planning if they are to prosper. Companies serving consumer markets should grasp the significance of the growing urban middle class and its diversity. Urban analysis is increasingly necessary for business success. These are the main messages from a dramatic new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI). Read more »
Aalborg has a small but charming Old Town, and being Danish there are plenty of bicycles.
What kind of strategies can help regions to strengthen their performance in knowledge and innovation? This was the theme of the ESPON Open Seminar that I took part in last week in Aalborg. What emerged was a strong consensus on the importance of getting stakeholders to feel a sense of ownership of a flexible regional strategy, which in turn was part and parcel of building trust. This region of North Denmark shows how strategic spatial planning has been used to create jobs and growth. Read more »
Surveys of local businesses in Sweden provide a source of informatin for policy makers
If planning is to become a means of supporting growth and economic recovery, then planners, economic development specialists and others working with Cohesion Funds will need a better understanding of the local business environment and accessibility. A new ESPON report includes a description of indicators that are used in Sweden to monitor these concerns, and inform local policy and practice. Read more »
I went to the cinema last night to watch a new film from China. I recommend “Mr Tree” as a film that gives you a flavour of the great transition that China is going through as people move to the cities. It shows some of the processes of change and their impacts on villages in the countryside. It will prompt planners, environmentalists and those involved in economic development to debate the costs and benefits of an annual growth rate of 8% per annum growth rate, and to ask could similar gains be achieved without some of the less desirable side effects?
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Planning for growth means making use of local assets
In my last couple of Blogs I have covered issues around planning for growth. This one continues that theme by looking at messages in ESPON research that give pointers to territorial actions that would put “Planning for Growth” into practice. Place-based economic development – The theme of “Planning for Growth” dominated the ESPON INTERSTRAT one day conference in London on 30 September. In this blog I summarise the presentation that I made. For simplicity, I picked out ten messages that are embedded in a number of ESPON research projects and that point the way for “Planning for Growth”. If the UK government is really serious about trying to use the planning system in England to plan for growth, they are the kind of things that could be considered. Similarly, they provide an agenda for discussion – and adaptation fit the local context – in other places…..
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