According to the recent State of the World’s Cities Report 2012, a holistic and integrated approach is essential for the well-being of all. It is critical to get aware of the new risks and support the cities to make the world progress economically, socially and environmentally. Although different crises of varying intensity have hit the cities, it is felt that cities can provide a solution for the regional and global crises via flexible and creative platforms. Part One: Prosperity and Urban Trends The future cities will be the center of prosperity. The human beings find their basic needs met and satisfaction of essential public goods in the cities. It is here where different individuals from different parts and regions gather to fulfill their ambitions. However, it is when the prosperity gets restricted to particular groups or pockets within the city that the justification for financial gains is not entirely realized. The human race is facing crises of all kinds, and the situation raises questions regarding economic, social and environmental stability (State Of The World’s Cities 10). The explosion of risks challenges the very notion of cities as the home of prosperity. It is true that the vastly disproportionate spread of wealth is giving rise to discontent as well as points to an ill-balanced growth and poor developmental policies. The cities have been the stage for protests and social movements throughout history. Thus, the cities are not just socio-economic spaces and environment but play an important role in shaping plans and polices. Thus, one finds a vigorous role for cities when responding to current crises. After all, those cities have been the driving force behind national economies, and one cannot ignore them. However, it is time rethink urban prosperity. Regardless of culture and civilization, or whatever individual perception, prosperity means differently to different people around the world. The 2008 financial crisis has pointed to the fact that there is a need to include non-economic dimensions in understanding and measuring prosperity (State Of The World’s Cities 13). City Prosperity Index is the new gauge for measuring prosperity in the cities. Developed by UN-Habitat, the new tool focuses on the five dimensions of prosperity, pinpointing the strengths and weaknesses. The UN-Habitat approach follows that prosperity not only means thriving conditions, success, and wellbeing but also creating opportunities. The new notions give rise to new questions about a prosperous city and the wellbeing of its population. There are certain elements that establish the UN-Habitat notion of a prosperous city. The modern city of tomorrow must contribute economic growth through productivity and employment, generating income that allows the whole population to afford adequate living standards. Both population and the economy should be well sustained for by the infrastructure assets and amenities. The population should lead fulfilling lives and maximize individual potential via social services that include health, recreation, education, safety and security. In short, prosperous cities should have equitably distributed wealth and opportunities that not only enhance the city’s natural assets but prevent any degradation of the environment. UN-Habitat defines prosperity with a wide-ranging and broader concept that has a well-balanced and shared development of environment, to make a smooth ride on the path of prosperity. The city’s specific ‘city prosperity index’ (CPI) should have its five dimensions equal at any given time (State Of The World’s Cities 14). The five dimensions include Productivity, Infrastructure, Quality of life, Equity and social inclusion plus Environmental sustainability. The city prosperity index will suffer if any one of those dimensions gets neglected. Moreover, one cannot ignore the interdependencies of those five dimensions. UN-Habitat’s ‘wheel of prosperity’ follows a well-balanced development of the five dimensions. The central hub represents the human agency in all its embodiments and holds the five spokes of prosperity, thus maintaining the balance and symmetry.
UN-Habitat recognizes differentiated and unique development paths that can be taken by the cities to achieve prosperity. CPI provides indices and measurements as well as opportunities and potential areas for the path of prosperity. Human Development Index (HDI) incorporates productivity and quality of life and is used to compute the “City Human Development Index” (CHDI) (State Of The World’s Cities 18). There are significant variations in CPI measures found in different cities in the same country. Still, it is seen that the prosperity of a city goes hand in hand with that of the country.
UN-Habitat City Prosperity Index is unique as its measures prosperity across five dimensions where the local economy is contrasted to the business environment. The CPI values group the cities in six distinct brackets from ‘very solid’ to ‘very weak’. The most prosperous cities have very little variations and are well-developed overall, well governed with very solid prosperity factors. Their populations are well educated and live longer. The finding indicates that urban equity and prosperity are linked closely. It is essential to note that high inequalities in cities interfere with their performance regarding prosperity. Cities with solid prosperity factors or CPI 0.800–0.899 are self-reinforcing with minute variations between the ‘spokes’. The next category with CPI: 0.700–0.799 shows an ill-balance in the development in the ‘spokes’ and lower stability. Cities with moderate CPI: 0.600–0.699 show wider inconsistencies among the values of different components. Cities with very weak CPI or below 0.500 reflects institutional and structural problems. It is really remarkable to see the rate at which the world has been rapidly urbanizing. For the first time, the urban population outnumbers the rural population, and it is expected that 7 out of every 10 people on the planet will live in urban areas by the middle of this century. In the more advanced nations, it is seen that the urban population growth has become stagnant. Even with the declining population numbers in cities, there is no clear association found between the degrees of prosperity. Growing cities are economically interdependent to the surrounding regions. However, the demographic trends of rapidly aging populations and lower fertility rates point to an overall demographic decline. The countries and cities need to review immigration policies to reducing any negative aspects and bring prosperity to all. Divergent urban growth patterns have been found in the developing countries. For example, the urbanization pattern in Africa will outgrow both Europe and Latin America. More than half of the urban population of the world lives in Asia (State Of The World’s Cities 28). Cities are expanding in a scattered and discontinuous manner. They are showing high degrees of fragmentation with endless expanses resulting in vast interstitial open spaces. Large or small cities are merging to develop new spatial configurations with typical mega-regions, urban corridors, and city-regions. They play an influential role in the formation and distribution of prosperity beyond their specific geographic areas. Large urban configurations provide substance to the five dimensions of prosperity. Planning large urban configurations while capitalizing on the comparative advantages of each city can lead to enhanced productivity. Transport infrastructure development improves connectivity and spatially integrates city networks. Equitable distribution can get marginalized because of unregulated land markets leading to the uneven development and extreme income inequalities. It is essential for the city leaders to cooperate rather than compete to focus on the quality of life both inside and outside the large urban configuration. Environmental sustainability challenges both political and administrative boundaries. Large urban configurations face certain risks of poor planning, weak coping strategies and lack of coordination along with social and fiscal disparities.
Part Two: Prosperity of Cities It is essential to focus on improving urban productivity as it not only encourages competitiveness but the prosperity of any city. The extra revenue generated can help improve services and improve infrastructure. For the past decades, the per capita income and rising urbanization went hand in hand for the world. There are external and regional factors that affect urban productivity (State Of The World’s Cities 39). The external factors give a comparative advantage to the cities while the regional factors include growth management, human capital, physical infrastructure, etc. External factors are explained by geographic location plus regional and national comparative advantages. Expansion of a city can get retriggered by emergence of ‘city clusters.’ There are certain factors that determine affect urban productivity at the city level such as wider range of potential employers and a better match between labor supply and demand. The population growth in the city determines the urban productivity as it raises the pool of workers and consumers. Structural and operational technical efficiency maximizes productivity further. Several cities expand their infrastructure actively. However, creativity and innovation have become the driving force because of the physical constraints in recent decades (State Of The World’s Cities 42). Many cities take advantage of showcasing their heritage and exploiting their cultural identity to encourage economic transformation. The quality of life is emerging as a key asset to attract and retain creative populations. Many cities already have the physical and institutional support required for capitalizing their demographic potential demographic potential. This is a challenge faced by the developing countries who are often exposed to diseconomies. The focus of policy actions should be more on the management of urban growth, especially in the initial stages of development, so as to minimize future inefficiencies. A sound governanceu8ncer an able leadership will always remain a critical factor in developing productivity of a city. The development of adequate infrastructure is crucial for the development and prosperity of urban areas. Good roads and improved communication facilities enhance urban connectivity and create a positive link between infrastructure and urbanization level. Differences in infrastructure reflect a variety of impacts on levels of income, the pace of urbanization and economic growth. Adequate water supply and access to clean water is very essential for quality of life and environmental sustainability. One of the most prized assets among cities is the road infrastructure as the roads contribute to effective mobility and are thus crucial for the prosperity of cities. The quality and maintenance of roads are equally important. It is seen that despite massive investment in road infrastructure, the expansion of road networks have not kept pace with the urban sprawl and the rapid rise in vehicle numbers (State Of The World’s Cities 52). One of the main essentials to check the prosperity of cities is to evaluate the quality of life it offers to its citizens. Everyone agrees on its importance still, the notion of a good quality of life can carry different meanings and facets. Despite those different understandings, the very basic notion of a good quality of life share similar views that include fulfilling family lives, decent employment, good health plus material wellbeing. There are several conceptual approaches for measuring the quality of life based on subjective and objective measures. There are eight domains of life situations that range from the economic situation, work-life balance, housing and employment, health, perceived quality of life and subjective well-being (State Of The World’s Cities 59). It is the quality of life that underpins the functionality of cities and form the basis of all policies and actions. According to the UN-Habitat survey, experts emphasize on good quality of education, freedom to live and work freely, meaningful employment, and the decent income to be the most important factors for improving the quality of life. The survey results show that broad-ranging effects are felt when the cities get committed to promoting quality of life. UN-Habitat has identified convergent and divergent responses to address quality of life. Divergent city responses rely on the steps taken to improve a quality of life will and on the stages of development of the city. The quality of life is associated strongly with well-planned and supportive environment. Convergent city responses go beyond local circumstances and governments with different political orientations are considered as priority interventions. In a large number of cities, reviving of the public space is still a neglected agenda. The prominent surge in economic growth in the past few decades has resulted in deepening poverty and wider income gaps across the world in many cities. Equity means a systematic distribution of the economic growth and benefits. When actively pursued, equity can work as a powerful catalyst for prosperity and enhance socioeconomic equality. Equity removes alienation and exclusion, engaging social groups and realizing the full potential of the entire population. Research shows a strong research connection of the cities with social cohesion. A key to urban quality is realized by lowering inequality and poverty. The two prime reason behind urban inequity is unequal income and unequal opportunities. UN-Habitat policy analysis displays that local and national government make concerted efforts to show concerns for socio-economic equity in most developed countries. Their urban policies encourage pro-poor planning, positive discrimination, and affirmative action. The prosperity of cities is inextricably linked to the environmental sustainability as the urban areas rely on environmental goods extensively. They need more water, energy and building materials. It is assumed that any country can maintain both nature and economic growth (State Of The World’s Cities 78). Environmental sustainability is essential for cities looking for a balanced economic growth that can ensure prosperity. However, it means a higher focus on the renewable energy sector such as bio-fuel, solar, the wind with new types of infrastructures and services. Waste management and recycling have led to new technical innovations and jobs. Buildings are getting modified to reduce greenhouse emissions. Old polluting vehicles are getting replaced to curb air pollution. Cities will be able to nurture sustainability and shared prosperity only under an able and efficient urban governance and transformational leadership.
The world is in the midst of a severe turmoil, and there are certain underlying factors that have resulted in the environmental, economic, social and political crises.
Urban trends show ill-balanced growth and poor developmental policies.
Developed by UN-Habitat, City Prosperity Index is the new gauge for measuring Urban prosperity.
The CPI or City Prosperity Index carries five dimensions at any given time- Productivity, Infrastructure, Quality of life, Equity and social inclusion plus Environmental sustainability
The urban equity and prosperity are linked closely.
Transport infrastructure development, Equitable distribution and Environmental sustainability are the upcoming challenges
External and regional factors that affect urban productivity.
Match between labor supply and demand, capitalizing the demographic potential and development of adequate infrastructure impacts the pace of urbanization and economic growth.
There are several conceptual approaches for good quality of life
Urban inequity arises because of unequal income and unequal opportunities
Environmental sustainability is essential for prosperity of cities.
Works cited"State Of The World’s Cities 2012/2013." World Urban Forum Edition1.1 (2012.): 1-122. Print.