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close this book Monograph on the inter-regional exchange and transfer of effective practices on urban management
View the document Introduction
View the document Foreword
View the document List of 30 case studies on effective urban practices
View the document Background
View the document Introduction
View the document The challenges of urban growth
View the document A new vision for sustainable human development
View the document Obstacles to urban transformation
View the document Towards a sustainable future
View the document Importance of sharing approaches that work
View the document Effective urban practices
View the document Analysis and lessons learned from thc case studies
View the document South - south cooperation: a basis for transferring effective practices
View the document Conclusions
Open this folder and view contents Annex - 30 case studies on effective urban practices

Obstacles to urban transformation

To achieve this vision, we have to overcome not only major political, economic, and structural barriers, including the debt crisis and adverse trade and investment patterns, but also internal mindset obstacles that block any creative leap toward urban transformation. The tremendous growth of urban centers projected through 2020 will be one of those profound shifts in history in which a quantitative change actually necessitates a qualitative leap to a new order. Some of the underlying obstacles are as follows:

1. Hopelessness and Despair. A prevailing sense of hopelessness and despair, which paralyzes some policy makers and the general public alike. Some policy makers are overwhelmed by day-to-day crises that they can hardly envision alternatives. Innovative solutions that do arise and become successfully implemented gain little recognition and are frequently written off as insignificant anomalies in the face of overwhelming odds;

2. Outmoded Assumptions of Policy makers. In the prevailing mindset of many policy makers and urbanists there are several basic assumptions that need to shift dramatically if high-yield urban strategies are to be devised for the future. Some of these are shown in Table I on page 10;

3. Isolation among Sectors, Disciplines, and Cities. Public, private, and voluntary sectors, the academic community, and the media tend to operate in isolation from each other rather than to cooperate in grappling with joint problem solving;

4. Counterproductive Incentives. In terms of investment' there is often little incentive to encourage private-sector research and development work or investment in collective urban services. What is needed is to aggregate the massive needs in the big cities into market demand in such a way as to make private investment more attractive;

5. Resistance to Change. Every system has a built-in inertia and resistance to change, especially when change implies major shifts of power and resources. The innovations sought are not politically neutral changes, but rather imply a shift in priorities. It is often not the lack of ideas or even of proven successes that blocks policy transformation, but lack of political will;

6. Entrenched Bureaucracy. In some countries, red-tape and bureaucracy at the local and central government level lead to endless delays causing costly inefficiencies. Such an environment stifles creativity and leads to general apathy;

7. Corruption. In some countries, along with entrenched bureaucracy, corruption operates as a negative factor. This leads to increased costs in carrying out development activities. In most cases. this obstacle is not explicitly recognized. If countries are to implement meaningful projects these will need to be dealt with by Governments themselves in an effective manner; and

8. Selfishness Some people do not like to implement other people's ideas. They tend to prefer to argue that they have their own solutions and that each situation has its own unique solution.

The case studies provide examples of how some of these obstacles might be overcome through the use of certain practices adopted by local communities and governments in different countries of the world.

Table 1 Old Assumptions Versus New Visions in Urban Policy-Making

Old Assumptions

New Visions

Cities are the problem.

Cities are the sources of innovation and economic growth.

The countryside subsidizes the city.

The city subsidizes the countryside.

Cities are becoming too large.

The larger the city, the greater the opportunity.

Public policies should be aimed at limiting size.

Public policies should be aimed at making city cities work better.

The cityward migrants are the 'dregs of barrel'- those who couldn't make it in countryside.

The migrants are the "cream of the crop" - the more highly skilled and motivated than the those they left behind.

The squatters are a drain on the urban urban services.

The squatters contribute more to the economy and economy than they receive in return.

Squatter settlements are hotbeds of criminality, and drug

The majority of families in squatter political unrest, settlements have the "values of patriots dealing and the perseverance of pioneers.'

Cities contribute disproportionately to the explosion.

Birth rates drop significantly with population urbanization.

Cities and the urban poor are the enemies fight against environmental

Transformed urban practices are essential in the to global ecological sustainability. degradation.

Solid waste and human waste are garmust be discarded "elsewhere."

If circular (not linear) systems are used, bage that waste becomes a valuable resource.

The government, planners, and experts provide solutions to urban problems.

The most creative solutions arise from the will bottom up rather than the top down.

Government programs provide most jobs for the poor.

The informal sector is the primary housing and generator of housing and income.

Stronger city government authority is needed to cope with urban management

Decentralized management permits a more effective match between resources and problems needs; removing the obstacles to such activities is the key.