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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

State of the World's Cities Report 2012/2013: Prosperity of Cities.


As World Habitat Day comes to an end and as we inch nearer to municipal Election Day in communities across Saskatchewan (October 24), have a look-see at the State of the World’s Cities Report 2012/2013: Prosperity of Cities. It’s a worthy read and contains some really interesting facts and solid policy suggestions.

The UN HABITAT is a wonderful portal of civic information. Consider making it part of your regular ‘civic exercise routine.’

As shared on the UN Habitat website (www.un.habitat.org - retrieved Oct. 1, 2012):

The United Nations has designated the first Monday every year as World Habitat Day…The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all, to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.

The United Nations chose the theme Changing Cities, Building Opportunities because cities are the engines of growth. It is in the cities that many realise their dreams of a better life. Even if this is not achieved, still many more leave the rural areas and flock to the cities for no other reason than the promise of a better future and prosperity. This they achieve by either getting jobs or by starting businesses which at one point not only provide for the owners but even other employees thus creating jobs.

Under this theme, UN-Habitat wants to underscore the need to plan our cities better because as has also been stated, unplanned growth of cities lead to chaotic development and urban sprawl. When well planned, cities can continue to afford opportunities to both the current and future residents. This dovetails with the new UN-Habitat campaign, I am a city changer which seeks to involve all in making their cities a better place to live.

The world's urban population now exceeds the world's rural population Un Habitat reflects on the following question: What does this mean for the state of our cities, given the strain this global demographic shift is placing upon current urban infrastructure?  One of the key resources developed by the UN Habititat as part of this year’s World Urban Forum is the State of the World’s Cities Report 2012/2013: Prosperity of Cities. It’s an intensive report that contains three main sections that is interspersed with numerous facts and policy suggestions:  Prosperity and Urban Trends; Prosperity of Cities; Policies for Prosperous Cities.

As taken from the report’s Forward:

The Report proposes a fresh approach to prosperity, one that is holistic and integrated and which is essential for the promotion of a collective well-being and fulfilment of all…. In this Report, UN-Habitat advocates for a new type of city – the city of the 21st century – that is a ‘good’, people centred city, one that is capable of integrating the tangible and more intangible aspects of prosperity, and in the process shedding off the inefficient, unsustainable forms and functionalities of the city of the previous century. By doing this, UN-Habitat plays a pivotal role in ensuring that urban planning, legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks become an instrument of prosperity and well-being.

The report goes on to define a prosperous city as one that provides….

Productivity:  Contributes to economic growth and development, generates income, provides decent jobs and equal opportunities for all by implementing effective economic policies and reforms

 Infrastructure development:  Provides adequate infrastructure – water, sanitation, roads, information and communication technology in order to improve urban living and enhance productivity, mobility and connectivity

Quality of life:  Enhances the use  of public spaces in order to increase community cohesion, civic identity, and guarantees the safety and security of lives and property

Equity and social inclusion: Ensures the equitable distribution and redistribution of the benefits of a prosperous city, reduces poverty and the incidence of slums, protects the rights of minority and vulnerable groups, enhances gender equality, and ensures civic participation in the social, political and cultural spheres

Environmental sustainability: Values the protection of the urban environment and natural assets while ensuring growth, and seeking ways to use energy more efficiently, minimize pressure on surrounding land and natural resources, minimize environmental losses by generating creative solutions to enhance the quality of the environment. – taken from Table 1.1, p14.

You can find a pdf of the full report by clicking here - http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=3016). Enjoy, share, and Be Informed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Women in Local Government

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is a member driven organization that is comprised of communities (municipalities) from across Canada – ranging from large cities to remote villages. FCM provides national, international and regional forums, conferences, workshops, programs and services. For up-to-date information about municipal issues this is a really good resource for elected respresentatives, administrators, related professionals and community members alike. Check out their website @ www.fcm.ca.

A particular interest of importance to me, as both a former elected representative and someone who works with communities on a daily basis, is the Women in Local Government Program. This program is based on strong evidence and targets the need for increased representation by women in local government. 

Please have a read of the statistics below that are directly taken from the FCM website and consider what you can do to help support women participation at the municipal level. For women who are considering becoming involved in local government please look at what resources are available to you through the Women in Local Government Program (please find the link below).
The material on the FCM website was updated as of July 2012. 

The United Nations defines 30 per cent as the minimal percentage of women required for government to reflect women´s concerns.

Women represent 16 per cent of mayors and 25 per cent of councilors in Canada, for an average of 24 per cent. In absolute terms, of 24,239 elected officials, 5,800 are women.

Based on current statistics, Canada would need 1,472 more women in elected office today to reach the 30 per cent target. That means increasing the number of women in municipal government by roughly 100 every year for the next 15 years.

FCM wants to help close this gender gap.

Since 2005, FCM´s Standing Committee on Increasing Women's Participation in Municipal Government has undertaken a number of initiatives, activities and programs to encourage women who are considering running for municipal office. The newest element of this campaign is the Getting to 30% Project. The program is designed to recruit and train women to run in municipal elections, through a series of campaign schools and webinars, as well as a campaign manual.