Global Urban Lectures

“In April 2014 UN-Habitat has launched the Global Urban Lectures – lecture packages focused on subjects related to cities and urbanization. The Global Urban Lecture series is an online repository of 15 minute video lectures that make available knowledge and experience of experts associated with UN-Habitat.

Each lecture package consists of a synopsis of the lecture, biography of the speaker, links to associated materials for in-depth study, and the 15 min video. The series was launched with 20 lectures, and more to follow shortly. Currently available lectures include: ‘Making room for a planet of cities’ – Shlomo (Solly) Angel – Stern School of Business, New York University; ‘Slums: past, present and future’ – Eugenie Birch – University of Pennsylvania; Citizen roles in resilient cities’ – Ron Dembo – Zerofootprint; ‘Incremental Housing – The new site & services’ – Reinhard Goethert – Massachusetts Institute of Technology; ‘Participation in practice’ – Nabeel Hamdi – Oxford Brookes University;  ‘Value Capture as a land based tool to finance development’ – Martim Smolka –Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.”



The full packages of the lectures can be accessed from


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The Challenge of Slums

The Challenge of Slums“This report is mainly concerned with the shelter conditions of the majority of the urban poor. It is about how the poor struggle to survive within urban areas, mainly through informal shelter and informal income-generation strategies, and about the inadequacy of both public and market responses to the plight of the urban poor. But the report is also about hope, about building on the foundations of the urban poor’s survival strategies and about what needs to be done by both the public and non-governmental sectors.


As this report emphasizes, slums are a manifestation of the two main challenges facing human settlements viz., rapid urbanization and the urbanization of poverty. This report explores both the negative and positive aspects of slums.


Many past responses to the problem of urban slums have been based on the erroneous belief that provision of improved housing and related services (through slum upgrading) and physical eradication of slums will, on their own, solve the slum problem. Solutions based on this premise have failed to address the main underlying causes of slums, of which poverty is the most significant.


The report therefore emphasizes the need for future policies to support the livelihoods of the urban poor by enabling urban informal-sector activities to flourish and develop, by linking low-income housing development to income generation, and by ensuring easy geographical access to jobs through pro-poor transport and more appropriate location of low- income settlements. Slum policies should in fact be integrated within broader, people-focused urban poverty reduction policies that address the various dimensions of poverty.”



(345 Pages, 2.39 MB)

Posted in Property Titling, Sustainable Urban Development, Urban Housing, Urban Planning, Urban Poverty, Urban Slums, Urbanisation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Urban Planning for City Leaders

Urban Planning for City Leaders“World is rapidly becoming predominantly urban. Cities offer opportunities for unleashing economic potential, increasing energy efficiency, reducing inequities, and creating sustainable livelihoods for all. History has shown that urbanization leads to development. It is also clear that urbanization is a source rather than simply a by-product of development. While Africa and Asia are among the least urbanized continents, they also have the fastest rates of urbanization in the world.


Growing cities and towns in developing countries face additional challenges, such as high percentages of people living in slums; expansion and dominance of the informal sector; inadequate urban basic services, especially water, sanitation and energy; unplanned peri-urban expansion; social and political conflict over land resources; high levels of vulnerability to natural disasters; and poor mobility systems. If cities are to play their role as drivers of economic and social development, these challenges have to be addressed through effective planning and governance.


Unfortunately, many developing countries lack strategies for urban planning and design. Urban planning, where it happens, tends to be inadequate for addressing the many challenges which are endemic to rapid expansion.  Appropriate urban planning for developing economies can be simple, enforceable, flexible, and responsive to shifting local needs. With sufficient capacity and more appropriate urban planning, countries can tap the opportunity for development which urbanization represents.


This Guide by the UN-HABITAT and Siemens has been designed to fill the gap between the technical and the policy dimensions of urban planning and to help local leaders to better communicate with their planning departments.”


(188 pp, 6.24 MB)

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Property Tax Regimes in Europe


Property Tax Regimes in Europe

Property Tax Regimes in Europe “More than 50% of the global population is now residing in the urban areas. India is also urbanizing fast. Urban areas need resources to build their infrastructure to reap the benefits of urbanisation. Public finance experts regard taxes on immovable property as a suitable source of revenue for local governments.

 This UN-HABITAT report surveys European property tax regimes. It thematically discusses policies and practices integral to these regimes and attempts to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the various features of property tax systems. While varied property tax regimes have been documented, some of the innovative and good practices listed can be used by local governments to strengthen their revenue system”.


(84 pages, 1.22 MB)

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Urban Trends and Policy in China

Urban Trends and Policy in China“China has become the world’s largest urban nation, with over 600 million urban citizens today. Urban population in China is expected to reach 900 million in 2030. Till recently, China had anti-urban bias in its policies. However, now China boasts a number of million plus cities and metropolitan regions that are engines of its economic growth.

 In historical terms, urbanisation is a relatively new phenomenon in China, and government is still seeking to better understand its scale, underlying processes, stimuli, impacts, costs, and benefits to inform more effective public policy.

 The OECD Regional Development Working Paper describes urban growth trends in China, where and in what kinds of cities growth is happening, how China’s cities are governed, and how public policy has influenced the extent, pace, and spatial distribution of urbanisation. As China continues to integrate with the global economy, its competitiveness will increasingly be driven by the capacities of its metropolitan regions. The rapid urbanisation process has important policy implications for China and beyond.

 The report concludes with a description of some of the key policy challenges facing central and local urban governments in this global context, including: i) institutional constraints to markets and factor mobility; ii) environmental challenges; iii) ensuring equity and helping vulnerable groups; and iv)  metropolitan governance.”


PDF: ( 70 pages; 2.62 MB)

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The State of China’s Cities 2012/2013

The State of China's Cities 2012 2013

 “More than 50% of the global population lives in the cities. Modern cities are, unarguably, our engines of economic growth and wealth creation, as well as enduring human institutions for self-actualization through employment generation. However, when not properly managed, the manner in which this process occurs may well undermine the dynamism, equity and sustainability as well as prosperity.

 The rapid industrialization of China has led to unprecedented level of urbanization in China. Since 1978, the urban population has increased by about 500 million. Such a level of internal migration from rural areas to the cities is unprecedented, and has coincided with the emergence of its economic might. The opportunities and challenges posed in the wake of such rapid urbanization in China offers valuable lessons for a country like India.

 The State of China’s Cities 2012/2013 is a collection of contributions from UN Habitat, China Science Centre of International Eurasian Academy of Sciences, China Association of Mayors and Chinese Society of Urban Planning. The collection of articles give details of urbanization process in China, urban housing construction, urban environment, urban infrastructure, disaster reduction, community and social services, urban planning etc.

 This publication captures new initiatives taken by the central and local governments of China to make the life of rural migrants equitable to those of urban residents in terms of security of employment, education, pension, medical care and housing; programme to build 36 million flats for low income families in cities between 2011 to 2015, consolidate institutions for disaster reduction and prevention, expansion of poverty reduction programmes in rural China, and efforts to build and demonstrate low carbon eco cities and communities. Understanding these programmes and policies can provide useful knowledge and lessons to many cities in India and around the World.”

 PDF: (112 pages, 3.7 MB)


Posted in Urban China, Urban Housing, Urban Infrastructure, Urban Planning, Urban Poverty, Urban Reports, Urban Studies, Urbanisation | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Building Urban Safety through Slum Upgrading


Building Urban Safety through slum upgrading“Among the several forms of urban development interventions, slum-upgrading offers an incomparable opportunity to provide urban safety for the poor. Progressively, the main concern for urban safety is moving from reducing measurements of either crime or violence to improving the quality of life. A holistic notion of “safety” has been brought into play and slum upgrading interventions set a suitable scenario to realize its practical implications. The UN-HABITAT publication on slum up gradation offers insights to achieve urban safety which will ensure sustainable and equitable urban prosperity.

Despite worldwide progress on the improvement of the living conditions of the poor, world over, the absolute number of slum dwellers has actually increased from 776.7 million in 2000 to 827.6 million in 2010.

Proliferation of informal settlements result in worst consequences of economic, spatial, opportunity and social divides for the urban poor. Excluded from the city’s opportunities, physically, politically and economically marginalized, slum dwellers are particularly vulnerable to crime and violence. They face an acute risk of becoming victims or offenders and live in a state of constant insecurity.

 The safety of slum dwellers cannot be taken to be an incidental consequence of the upgrading of their neighborhoods. Rather, it must be considered an explicitly planned outcome of upgrading. However, very few cities attempt this. Cities that have more attractive public spaces, more lively streets generally experience less segregation.

India is urbanizing fast. Hence, it is all the more essential to integrate these principles in urban policy framework.”


 PDF URL:  (109 pp, 8.30 MB)


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State of the World’s Cities 2012/ 2013

State of the World's Cities 2012The UN HABITAT publication on The State of the World’s Cities Report 2012 presents, “with compelling evidence, some of the underlying factors behind the various crises that have strongly impacted on cities. It shows that a lopsided focus on purely financial prosperity has led to growing inequalities between rich and poor, generated serious distortions in the form and functionality of cities, also causing serious damage to the environment not to mention the unleashing of precarious financial systems that could not be sustained in the long run. 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 fulfillment of all.

In order to measure present and future progress of cities towards the prosperity path, the Report introduces a new tool – the City Prosperity Index – together with a conceptual matrix, the Wheel of Prosperity, both of which are meant to assist decision makers to design clear policy interventions.

The report talks of the need for transformative change towards people-centred, sustainable urban development, which the revised notion of prosperity can provide.”

PDF: (207 pp, 5.48 MB)

Posted in Sustainable Urban Development, Urban Governance Models, Urban Infrastructure, Urban Links, Urban Planning, Urban Reports, Urban Studies, Urban Tools | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Eco2 Cities: Ecological Cities as Economic Cities

Eco2 Cities“Urbanization in developing countries is a defining feature of the 21st century. Some 90 percent of global urban growth now takes place in developing countries – and between the years 2000 and 2030, developing countries are projected to triple their entire built-up urban areas. This unprecedented urban expansion poses cities, nations and the international development community with a historic challenge and opportunity. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to plan, develop, build and manage cities that are simultaneously more ecologically and economically sustainable.

“Eco² Cities: Ecological Cities as Economic Cities” is a new initiative launched by the World Bank in order to respond to this challenge. Its objective is to help cities in developing countries achieve greater ecological and economic sustainability.

The World Bank’s Eco2 Cities Initiative is a broad platform that provides practical, scalable, analytical, and operational support to cities in developing countries so they may harness the benefits of ecological and economic sustainability.  (392 pages, 8.93 MB)

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Hidden Cities: unmasking and overcoming health inequities in urban settings

Hidden Cities

“The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) joint global report, Hidden cities, exposes the extent to which certain city dwellers suffer disproportionately from a wide range of diseases and health problems.

While urban living continues to offer many opportunities, these advantages can be extremely uneven in their distribution. While it is generally understood that city dwellers on average, enjoy better health than their rural counterparts, very little is known about health differences that exist within cities. No city is immune to this problem. The list of potential urban hazards include substandard housing and crowded living conditions, problems with food and water safety, inadequate sanitation and solid waste disposal services, air pollution, and congested traffic, etc.

Many cities face a triple threat: infectious diseases thrive when people are crowded together under paltry living conditions. Chronic, non communicable diseases are on the rise with the globalization of unhealthy lifestyles, which are facilitated by urban life – tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol. And urban health is further burdened by accidents, injuries, road accidents, violence, and crime.

Urbanization, both in the developing and developed world, has been accompanied by a concentration of poverty which is becoming a severe, pervasive, and largely unacknowledged feature of urban life. This is accompanied by lack of adequate capacity of Municipal bodies to extend services to the urban poor.

The health sector cannot act alone to tackle those inequities and the various urban health challenges. Opportunities to put health at the heart of the urban policy agenda exist, and it is time for all sectors to work together toward innovative and effective solutions that mitigate health risks and increase health benefits.

This report provides information and tools to help governments and local leaders reduce health inequities in their cities.”


PDF:  (145 pages, 3.30 MB)

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