Background to the N-aerus - Cities Alliance Partnership
Current challenges and perspectives on city governance, housing and planning policies and informality in the cities of the Global South. A researchers’ viewpoint.
Although there is strong evidence that urbanization can induce significant advancements in cities’ social, economic, cultural and spatial conditions, actions are needed to hasten these achievements and cope with urban growth’s negative consequences. European academic institutions have carried out many research projects co-produced with a wide range of institutions and researchers in the global South and offer several training programmes on urban challenges in such contexts. However, not only have most European governments failed to fully draw on this research and training to design their support programmes and policies, but have also recently been reducing their support for research on and aid in the global South. However, the universalization of the New Urban Agenda under preparation, together with the much-needed post-colonisation of urban research implies that there is much to learn across contexts and cultures; the global South is therefore a thriving terrain with which Europe should upkeep and expand knowledge exchange.
A key objective of the Cities Alliance / N-Aerus collaboration is to open up spaces for discussions among researchers and decision makers. This is intended to demonstrate the need for and utility of research in understanding situations and setting more appropriate recommendations for action, and therefore strengthen relationships between these two categories of actors as well.
The networking event at the Habitat 3 Conference in Quito presented the findings, conclusions and recommendations for research and policy-making on three key topics:
Informality: This working group is concerned with the term informality and its dimensions and impacts on urban development and its processes, putting emphasis on the aspects of formal and informal mechanisms of city production. With the basic assumption that in urban development there is an ambiguity between formal and informal development patterns, which co-exist, the working group will present evidence and interim recommendations on (1) the rationale for informality, (2) informal practices and their links to formal processes, and (3) policy responses and their consequences.
Governance/Policy: This working group is critically reflecting on the term of governance and its interpretations for urban development and its processes in a changing social, environmental, and economic context. The group aims to further the debate on a more cohesive and interconnected approach when addressing urban governance by; (1) promoting more realistic and locally adapted aims; (2) recognising diversity and difference within and of urban governance; (3) understanding urban transformations as a result of negotiations between different actors that balance public and private interests.
Housing and Planning: This working group focuses on housing, planning and design transcending the perceived formal/informal divide. It recognizes the frequent divide between housing and planning discourses, as well as the centrality of housing and land to the development of resilient and equitable urban environments. The working group is exploring (1) housing perspectives – marking the role of housing for the reduction of socio-spatial segregation; (2) planning perspectives – urban design and planning vis-à-vis current urbanisation patterns and planning frameworks; and (3) policy perspectives – projects and initiatives for building a more equitable urban development.