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Infographic: Making the Cities of Tomorrow More Inclusive

World Bank

  • Context

    Urbanization has been one of the most significant driving forces of recent global development. More than half the world’s population now lives in cities, and this proportion will continue to increase rapidly to reach 70% by 2050.

    When handled properly, urbanization has the potential to create opportunities for a better life, provide a pathway out of poverty and act as an engine of economic growth. Indeed, cities are often focal points for activities that are critical to the development of an entire country, such as trade and commerce, government, transport, etc. Cities currently account for approximately 80% of GDP generated worldwide.

    But while urbanization is moving the global economy forward, rising inequality and exclusion within cities can derail development progress. In that context, the international community has acknowledged the need to create more inclusive cities, and to make sure that people can reap the benefits of urbanization. The World Bank’s twin goals – ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity – place the topic of inclusion front and center. Likewise, Sustainable Development Goal 11 calls for “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” cities.

    Despite wide recognition and commitment, building inclusive cities remains a challenge. Today, one out of three urban residents in the developing world still lives in slums with inadequate services. In addition, the majority of future urban growth is expected to take place in Asia and Africa, regions that are home to some of the poorest countries in the world.

    To make sure that tomorrow’s cities provide opportunities and better living conditions for all, it is essential to understand that the concept of inclusive cities involves a complex web of multiple spatial, social and economic factors:

    • Spatial inclusion: urban inclusion requires providing affordable necessities such as housing, water and sanitation. Lack of access to essential infrastructure and services is a daily struggle for many disadvantaged households;
    • Social inclusion: an inclusive city needs to guarantee equal rights and participation of all, including the most marginalized. Recently, the lack of opportunities for the urban poor, and greater demand for voice from the socially excluded have exacerbated incidents of social upheaval in cities;
    • Economic inclusion: creating jobs and giving urban residents the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of economic growth is a critical component of overall urban inclusion.

    The spatial, social and economic dimensions of urban inclusion are tightly intertwined, and tend to reinforce each other. On a negative path, these factors interact to trap people into poverty and marginalization. Working in the opposite direction, they can lift people out of exclusion and improve lives.

  • Strategy

    While urban inclusion is clearly a multi-faceted issue, traditional interventions have mostly focused on physical improvements such as slum upgrading. In an effort to combat urban poverty and inequality more effectively, the World Bank is instead looking to develop a holistic approach that integrates all three dimensions of urban inclusion – spatial, social, and economic.

    Designing innovative, multi-dimensional interventions to create inclusive cities requires:

    • Adopting multi-sector solutions for a multi-dimensional issue: This implies combining spatial approaches (access to land, infrastructure, and housing) with social interventions (inclusion of the marginalized, community-driven development, investment in crime and violence prevention, citizen engagement,) and economic measures (jobs and opportunities for all, education and skill building, pro-poor economic strategies, access to credit and finance).
    • Combining ‘preventive’ and ‘curative’ solutions: Although approaches like slum upgrading have improved living conditions for many, they still remain an ‘after-the-fact’ solution aimed at fixing the existing housing stock. There is a need to combine preventive approaches that allow proactive planning for future growth with upgrading and other curative approaches.
    • Sequencing, prioritizing and scaling up investments: While a multidimensional, integrated approach is recommended, it is not always possible to implement operations that target all aspects of inclusion at once. In some cases, interventions may need to be sequenced and scaled up or down based on context, priorities and needs.
    • Harnessing communities’ potential as drivers of inclusion: Local communities are in an ideal position to plan and prioritize their own needs. Based on the success of community-driven approaches, communities’ participation in planning, implementing and sustaining the benefits of urban interventions is viewed as a key success factor.
    • Strengthening capacity at local level: When it comes to building inclusive cities, higher levels of government and international agencies are only as effective as the local institutions they support. It is important to ensure that local governments have the political backing, devolved powers, necessary tools and sufficient resources to make urban inclusion a reality.
    • Fostering Partnerships: A multi-dimensional approach calls for multi-partner interventions, internally and externally. The World Bank enables collaboration among experts from multiple sectors. Working with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the private sector will help complement public sector initiatives, and carry out efficient, cost-effective interventions. Collaborating with other international development organizations and bilateral donors will emphasize the need to promote inclusion globally, and will make it easier to adapt best practices to different local contexts. Partnering with organizations that work closely with local communities, such as Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and the Asia Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR), will help to make sure that the interventions meet the needs and demands of residents, and to identify areas in which communities can take the lead.
  • The World Bank has been conducting extensive analytical work on inclusive cities to develop a solid knowledge base on the topic of urban inclusion, initiate dialogue with key stakeholders, and mainstream the various aspects of inclusion into its operations.

    The Inclusive Cities initiative builds on years of accumulated knowledge, experiences and lessons from past projects that promoted inclusive city development. Some examples include:

    • Vietnam – Vietnam Urban Upgrading Project: In rapidly urbanizing Vietnam, low income areas in Ho Chi Minh City and other secondary cities were often flooded with inadequate sanitation, causing serious health and environmental risks. The Vietnam Urban Upgrading Project helped improve the lives of 7.5 million urban poor with better water and sewerage connections, roads, lakes, canals and bridges. The project combined the provision of infrastructure with strong community engagement. The project introduced a new way of working with the poor--emphasizing in-situ upgrading over resettlement, and giving voice to the marginalized by involving them in the identification of upgrading options, on-site supervision and evaluation of the project's impact. The project also helped ensure that all households in the upgraded areas receive a certificate of tenure or land use certificates. A microcredit program, implemented by the local Women’s Union, also supported low-income households in the bottom 40% of the cities with home improvement or income generation loans to alleviate the pressure due to lack of credit.
    • Cameroon Inclusive and Resilient Cities Development Project (PDVIR): The PDVIR (approved in August 2017) aims to address various intertwined dimensions of urban poverty and vulnerability in seven cities across Cameroon. It will finance a mix of hard and soft interventions to improve access to infrastructure, services, and economic opportunities and strengthen citizen engagement for over 650,000 people living in poor urban neighborhoods. Provision of trunk infrastructure to improve spatial integration of targeted communities with the city (roads, drainage) will be complemented with demand-driven neighborhood improvement investments identified through a participatory approach (such as local roads, street lighting, water supply, community centers). The Project will also set up a grant mechanism to support local initiatives focusing on the economic inclusion of the youth, particularly young women, strengthen neighborhood development committees, and pilot investments to improve pedestrian mobility. At the same time, technical assistance will be provided to municipalities and relevant ministries to enhance their capacity to develop and implement strategies and tools facilitating more inclusive and resilient urban development.
    • Metropolitan Buenos Aires Urban Transformation Project: It’s estimated that 18 percent of the Argentine population lives in informal settlements, known as “villas”, where poverty levels can reach as high as 55%. The Metropolitan Buenos Aires Urban Transformation Project is supporting the improvement of living conditions for around 48,000 residents in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (both in the City of Buenos Aires and the Province of Buenos Aires), integrating them into the wider urban fabric. Specifically, the project finances the improvement of housing and basic urban services and infrastructure. The flagship initiative within this Project is the urbanization of Villa 31 in the City of Buenos Aires. One of the largest, and most visible, informal settlements in the country, Villa 31 is literally in the heart of the City, within walking distance from the busiest urban neighborhoods.  Transforming Villa 31 into Barrio 31 will change the face of Buenos Aires and lead the way for housing and urban transformation throughout Argentina.