News round-up - May

Written by Elena Collins on 30 May 2013

World Cities Network rounds-up leading news from around the world in May. This month's summary includes Surat's transformation to one of the three cleanest cities of India, Designing cities for better health and Africa's 'new cities': Urban future or utopian fantasies? 

Africa's 'new cities': Urban future or utopian fantasies?

Konza City

Gleaming skyscrapers towering over upwardly mobile professionals and flashy cars cruising along brightly lit avenues; young urbanites zipping past manicured lawns to enter their luxury condos; state-of-the-art labs fostering tech savvy entrepreneurs' million-dollar ideas.A glimpse of Africa's urban future or utopian fantasies?

The jury might still be out, but these are the snapshots of urban life being touted by international property developers who are announcing plans for new satellite cities and vast modern compounds across Africa. They are usually planned to be built from scratch on the edges of the continent's existing metropolises, many of which are creaking under the weight of growing populations and rapid urbanization rates. Read the full article on the CNN website

Surat gets it right on water

Rapid growth of cities is usually expected to generate urban sprawl and deterioration in public service delivery. Not so in Surat. The city has not only managed growth with advance planning but has also emerged as a model of response, resilience and sustainability in the face of a challenging jal pareeksha (testing by water) with the floods of 1994. The incredible story of Surat's transformation from the city of plague in 1994 to one of the three cleanest cities of India has been told by many.  Read the full article on the Indian Express website

How to make a city great by McKinsey & Company

What does it take to advance a city's economic, environmental, and social performance? McKinsey & Company show that through their research and interviews with global city leaders make clear that there is no single path. Rather successful leaders must find the balance between three critical areas: smart growth, doing more with less, and winning support for change.

Read McKinsey & Company's report: Download the report (PDF–2.07 MB)

Is the global energy scene tilting?

By 2050, the planet will have 9bn people, 70% of whom will be living in urban areas. Of these 9bn, 4.9bn will be middle class, two-thirds of whom will be in the Asia-Pacific region. To put it simply, emerging markets will drive the growth in energy demand.  The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects China, India and the Middle East to account for 60% of that growth between now and 2035.

This shift towards emerging markets is also happening on the supply side. Companies from emerging economies are playing an important role in the US shale gas boom, where they provide the much-needed capital that allows debt-burdened exploration companies to keep operating despite unprofitable gas prices. This involvement is not altruistic: China’s shale reserves are 50% larger than those of the US, but China needs the technology and know-how if it wants to adapt US methods to its own geological conditions.

On the renewable energy side, emerging markets are also taking the lead. In less than a decade, China’s market for clean energy has increased 13 fold to reach $65bn in 2012—a quarter of total global investments that year—and the country is now above the US in both investment levels and total installed capacity (152GW vs. 133GW). This growth is not limited to emerging giants. According to a recent PEW Center report, countries outside the G-20 experienced strong growth last year (+52%) and that trend is expected to persist over the next decade. Read the full article on the Economist website

Designing cities for better health: If you build it, they will walk

Barrie, a small city on the edge of Ontario’s Lake Simcoe, might not strike many as a hotbed of urban design trends. But a new community planned for the city will incorporate arguably the most sweeping urban planning trend in North America. Harmony Village, which will comprise1,200 residential units, is being built to promote health, says architect Roland Rom Colthoff.

As obesity rates and the incidence of diabetes have skyrocketed over the past three decades, architects, urban planners and health officials have rallied around a question that would have been unthinkable to those creating suburban housing developments only a generation ago: What if our poor urban planning is to blame? Read the full article on the Globe and Mail Website

10 reasons why so many people are moving to Texas

Every way you look at it, there are a lot of people moving to Texas. Five of the 10 fastest-growing cities in the country between 2011 and 2012 were in Texas, according to new figures from the US Census Bureau. New York is way out in front in terms of added population, but Houston is second with San Antonio and Austin fourth and fifth. 

Some of this Texan population boom is due to a natural increase - more births than deaths - but the numbers moving into the state from elsewhere in the US and from abroad far outstrip every other American state. Why? Read the full article on the BBC website

Categories: Technology, Housing, Energy and water