Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Does the guidelines for sustainable development of Urban Settlements really talk of something that is the Need of the Hour?

The Shifts

     The complexity of cities could be well understood by studying the transitional developments faced by the race of humanity from primitive settlements to modern settlement of current times. The city transforms its character and shape in accordance with the construction of social spaces and the character of the residing societies. Hence, developing healthy social relationships and healthy society should be a key concern for performing different urban planning exercises. The Forward Planning will play a key role in this so-called shift in approach of the urban planning. Other concepts which include a major share in designing and building the cities of tomorrow would be ‘The Participatory Approach’ and ‘The Feed-Back Planning’. These two terms are clear as the name suggests. The former one includes the inhabitants of the city as an active member who are aware of the developmental policies, schemes and be a part of the city planning by enhancing and promoting the feedback planning as the local inhabitants are a bit more aware of the local problems than the planners can be. Moreover, researches and researchers should to promoted especially for the Indian Context to study the underlying conditions of the Indian conditions and cities and establish an approach which suits and fits the envelope of Indian diverse culture and conditions. Foreign Models can’t be directly transferred. Here are some shifts outlined by some European Community/organization for the sustainable development of the so-called cities.

·       Foresight is especially relevant tool for managing transitions, overcoming conflicts and contradictions between objectives, and developing a better understanding of realities, capacities and objectives.

·     In the context of weakened links between economic growth and social progress, social innovation offers an opportunity to widen the public space for civic engagement, creativity, innovation and cohesion.

·      New governance modes based on citizens' empowerment, participation of all relevant stakeholders and innovative use of social capital are needed.

·      Cities have to work across sectors and not let ‘mono-sectoral’ visions set the agenda of what urban life should be like.

·    Creating a resilient and inclusive economy – the present economic development model, in which economic growth does not equate to more jobs, raises challenges: to ensure a decent life for those left outside the labour market and to engage them in society.

·      The potential of socio-economic, cultural, generational and ethnic diversity must be further exploited as a source of innovation. Cities of tomorrow have to be both elderly-friendly and family-friendly, as well as places of tolerance and respect.

·       Combating spatial exclusion and energy poverty with better housing is key to not only making a city and its agglomeration more attractive and liveable, but also making it more eco-friendly and competitive.

·   Making cities ‘green and healthy’ goes far beyond simply reducing CO2 emissions. A holistic approach to environmental and energy issues has to be adopted, as the many components of the natural ecosystem are interwoven with those of the social, economic, cultural and political urban system in a unique manner.

·     Thriving and dynamic small and medium-sized cities can play an important role in the well-being not only of their own inhabitants but also of the surrounding rural populations. They are essential for avoiding rural depopulation and urban drift and for promoting balanced territorial development.

·    A sustainable city must have attractive open public spaces and promote sustainable, inclusive and healthy mobility. Non-car mobility has to become more attractive and multimodal public transport systems favoured.

 Cities of tomorrow have to adopt a holistic model of sustainable urban development.

§ Deal with challenges in an integrated, holistic way;

§ Match place- and people-based approaches;

§ Develop governance systems capable of building shared visions reconciling competing objectives and conflicting development models;

§ Cooperation among the communities in order to ensure coherent spatial development and an efficient use of resources.

The Big Question is :- Are the shifts/guidelines provided above covers up the wider complexity of the modern urban settlements? 

Cities are becoming even more complex entities with the advancements in science and technology. Cities can't be developed and designed by the concerning authorities and government organizations; it’s more of the community involvement and participation which shapes the city. Cities are more of a biological phenomenon and hence it moulds around the needs and perception of the citizens inhabiting the space. Cities also transforms over period of time and planning exercises should be done in accordance with them. The best thing would be to make aware the inhabitants about the city processes and inclusive part to be played by them in shaping the cities of tomorrow.

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