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Prosperity in a rapidly urbanising world: where do we go from here?

ucyow3c22 January 2015

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Written by Hannah Sender, Research Assistant, UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

Brasilia, Brazil

Credit: Scott Wallace, World Bank.

Is urbanisation even an issue?

It is a widely-known and oft-cited fact that, as of 2007, more than 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas. The factors for this rapid change are hugely debated: are we realising a teleological Modernist project, or do we make decisions regarding where we live based purely on income? It is the case, however, that most of us experience the consequences of this development every day.

In recognition of these problems, the urban ecology is now foremost in academia’s agenda: one of the four UCL Grand Challenges is ‘Sustainable Cities’. The recently launched UCL Institute for Global Prosperity has taken the issue of urbanisation as a primary focus for some of its nascent projects.

As part of the Institute for Global Prosperity’s Soundbites series – a series of short lectures and conversations held at lunchtimes on questions around wellbeing and prosperity – Professor Julio D. Dávila, Director of the UCL Bartlett Development Planning Unit, gave a public talk last Thursday on the possibility for prosperity in rapidly urbanising contexts.

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The myth of apathy (behaviour change from the inside out)

news editor4 December 2012

Written by Jenny Love, PhD student at the UCL Energy Institute.

The several hundred-strong audience attracted by Renee Lertzman of Royal Roads University bore testimony to our desire to effect ‘behaviour change’ in our society with respect to environmental protection.

It is a phrase that is used by many of us without an understanding of the people we are trying to effect change in. Renee, as a psychosocial researcher (this discipline addresses psychological development in, and interaction with, a social environment), brought us an insight into how people create meaning for themselves in a time of environmental degradation.

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UCL-Lancet Commission: Shaping Cities for Health

news editor6 June 2012

Jessica Lowrie, UCL Communications & Marketing intern.

By 2030, globally, three in five people will live in cities. Despite the perception that city living provides an ‘urban advantage’ over those who live in rural areas, those who live in poor urban areas can often have worse health outcomes than wealthier city residents, but also in comparison to rural dwellers.

Urban and economic growth will not automatically create an ‘urban advantage’ – public policy is needed to maintain and improve conditions to allow for such an advantage to exist.

Healthy cities
This concept was the foundation for an event held by the UCL-Lancet Commission on 30 May to launch their high-profile report on Healthy Cities, published on the same day.

The report was the second from the UCL-Lancet Commission, recognising the valued commitment from both organisations to UCL’s Grand Challenges (Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing).

The well-organised and insightful event began with introductions from Professor David Price (UCL Vice-Provost – Research) and Professor Richard Horton (Editor, the Lancet).

Professor Yvonne Rydin (UCL Bartlett School of Planning), lead author of the report, then embarked on a comprehensive overview of the report and its main findings.

Professor Rydin explained that the report aimed “to understand how better health outcomes can be delivered through interventions in urban environments in cities across the world”.

Certain components of a healthy city seem obvious: good water and sanitation infrastructures, clean air, uncontaminated land, safe homes, opportunities for safe and active mobility and effective green infrastructure.

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