Thursday, January 5, 2017
A room filled with concerned citizens regarding urbanization gathered to share and discuss next steps to this vital and important societal issue. A powerful panel of 3 speakers offered a cross section of views that generated a lively and informative interaction with the attendees.
It was noted that more and more people are moving away from the rural areas to settle in urban cities. This is posing a threat to the cities to provide housing, employment, education, to name a few, to everyone. It was also observed that older persons are being ‘squeezed’ out of cities and the question of ‘right to the city’ was raised. Safe, available, and accessible spaces for the older persons in areas such as parks, transportation, housing, were highlighted. It was suggested that at the time of planning/construction, the inclusion of private sector could offer some sort of solution to these concerns.
Planning an urban environment that can be flourishing, a vision that others can ‘buy’ into is of absolute importance and, the plan needs to be long term for it to bring the desired results.
A good example of inclusiveness is New York City, where apartment buildings have to have a few floors available to low income citizens, and need to be handicapped accessible. Easy transportation is also available to residents, including older and disabled persons.
My take on this is rather than over-populating the cities, maybe governments, private sectors and civil society focus more energy on development of the rural areas. Every human being has a right to a safe and secure life – financially, emotionally, and physically. With collective force, and each one willing to fulfill their responsibility, we can achieve whatever we set out to achieve.