Friday, 7 June 2013

COOPERATION : Global challenges for international cooperation



"The start of the new millennium marks the dawning of the urban age. This will be the major challenge of the 21st century. Let us take a quick look at the three major trends that will shape urban evolution throughout the world.

For the first time in the history of humanity, a majority of the world population will be living in cities, and urban growth will be strongest in developing countries. In these regions, the urbanisation process is not what it was in the industrialised world. Strong demographic growth and a lack of human and financial resources
characterise it. This urban transition goes hand in hand with accelerating trends relative to poverty and homelessness, ethnic conflict, crime, violence and social exclusion.

The last decade was marked by widespread political, fiscal and administrative decentralisation affecting different countries to a varying degree. The aim of decentralisation is to render countries more efficient, and link public, private and community sectors in an effort to make them more accountable to citizens. Unfortunately, the decentralisation process is often implemented without the requisite institutional and financial accompanying measures. Alongside the State and the market, civil society has an increasingly important role to play in the partnership that promises to pave the way towards new forms of democratic
governance.

The development of communication and transport technologies has caused towns to join interdependent networks, facilitating their access to international markets. The birth of "global cities" (Sassen 1991)
leads to a concentration of industrial production sites and of services, innovation, decision-making and financing, and creates new hierarchies between large, medium-sized and small urban centres. In
parallel to this “globalisation impact”, local conditions influence or determine
the rise of local authorities and projects launched by civil society.

The fact that the world has become increasingly urban in terms of population density, spatial distribution, economic activity, social behaviour and cultural models, generates the following priority challenges:

- The autonomy of local authorities via decentralisation and greater democracy, should foster social equity and civic responsibility.

- Participatory urban governance should contribute to the promotion of the "open city", in which all individuals benefit from its opportunities regardless of income, sex, age, race or religion.

- The fight against urban poverty, based on an approach that makes the poor the focal point of development, should view them not as victims but as responsible and capable citizens endowed with knowledge, know-how, networks and rights.

- Actions for cities without slums should foster the transformation of shantytowns, and their integration within the larger urban environment through poverty alleviation strategies, improved infrastructures, and the provision of basic services and housing. This will require positive policies that refuse “bulldozer
strategies” and insist upon the right of the poor to a decent life.

- Adequate drinking water supply and sanitation, survival and dignity for the poor according to UN slogan, inadequate access to water represents an explosive challenge that threatens the life and living conditions of over two billion of the world’s inhabitants.

- The urban environment registers growing threats to its equilibrium: the day to day existence of hundreds of millions of city dwellers in the South is marked – and marred – by waste proliferation, uncontrolled waste discharge, polluted water, household and external air pollution, plus the risk of environmental disasters.

- Sustainable cities. The majority of cities in the South, with their growing poverty, environmental deterioration, inequalities, social problems, crime and other forms of insecurity, project an image of nonsustainability."

in Urban News, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, March 2004


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