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5 ways to build more inclusive cities

September 13, 2022
Nicola Nixon (right) and Tamara Failor (centre) from The Asia Foundation and Rebecca Calder (left), from Kore Global, introduce some ideas for making cities more inclusive in Southeast Asia. In the shadow of Covid-19, rapid urbanization is exacerbating existing inequalities and creating new ones that dramatically reduce the quality of life of people who are marginalized.  Three examples: Persons with

Big demographic tides are sweeping the world: how should aid organizations respond?

May 24, 2019
Recently I spent half day BS’ing (breeze-shooting, obviously) about future trends and challenges for international organizations like Oxfam. Confession: we’re supposed to hate these, but often they’re really fun. A table on demographic shifts got me particularly excited. Great human tides are sloshing around the globe, populations are moving geographically, and their age make-up is changing rapidly. All that has

Ditching the Masterplan. How can Urban Development become ‘Politically smart, locally led’?

June 23, 2017
Guest post from Harry Jones and Bishnu Adhikari, both of Palladium on what urban aid and development can learn from the Doing Development Differently movement The international development community has come some way in grappling with complex problems, but urban development has lagged behind. Urban programmes systematically underperform according to their own results frameworks and internal evaluations. The failures are

Once every 20 years the UN focuses on cities, but the wrong people will be there

September 28, 2016
Urbanization guru David Satterthwaite raises the curtain on next month’s big Habitat III conference.   Surprising though it may seem, I once got mistaken for the mayor of London. I was at a conference for mayors in Latin America and not realising the mistake, for half a day I had all the most prominent mayors greeting me like a brother

Why is support for gender equality mainly growing in urban areas?

May 8, 2015
Guest post from the LSE’s Alice Evans from the LSE  Across the world, support for gender equality is rising. More girls are going to school. Women are increasingly being recognised and supported in historically male-dominated domains, such as employment and politics. Growing numbers of men are sharing unpaid care work. In short, young women are ‘beginning to envision a future similar

China’s meteoric rise: urban boom; NGOs in from the cold; overtaking the US on pollution and tourism

April 25, 2014
A while ago, the Economist stepped up its China coverage and opened a separate section, putting placing the country on an editorial par with the USA. It’s taken a while to get going, but recent editions have been excellent. Last week saw a great piece on the rise of China’s NGOs (see chart). This week brings a 14 page special

A week at the Edinburgh festival: good theatre, bad music and great books

August 29, 2013
Last week Cathy and I spent our annual week at the Edinburgh festival. It provides a high intensity restoration of the mental flora (colonic irrigation of the soul?) before the autumn grind begins. We tend to avoid the ubiquitous stand-up comedy, even though the heckling sounds pretty amazing, and go for a more NGO-compatible diet of miserabilist theatre, random music

How can development NGOs go urban?

January 17, 2012

10 Challenges to 'business as usual' for development agencies: FP2P flashback

August 18, 2011

Why is humanitarian work so hard in cities?

January 21, 2010
By chance, the day before the Haiti earthquake, we were having a discussion at Oxfam about why, when it comes to feeding programmes, disaster relief etc urban work tends to be both harder and less attractive to NGOs than doing equivalent things in rural settings. This reflected an increasing conviction that we need to do more on urban issues. Although

Charter Cities – visionary, naive or bonkers?

October 27, 2009
Charter Cities are a proposal to build cities from scratch in the world’s poorest nations, outsourcing their design and government to rich countries. Visionary, naïve or plain bonkers? Probably a bit of all three. They are the brainchild of US economist Paul Romer, who explains his idea on this (20 minute) video. He’s serious – last year he gave up

Reshaping Economic Geography – the latest World Development Report

December 19, 2008