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N-AERUS is a pluridisciplinary network of researchers and experts working on urban issues in Developing countries. It was created in March 1996 by a group of European researchers. Its objective is to mobilise and develop the European institutional and individual research and training capacities on urban issues in the South with the support of institutions and individual researchers with relevant experience in this field. N-AERUS will work in association with researchers and institutions in developing countries.

Creation of N-AERUS is based on three statements:

  1. Cities are increasingly contributing to the general development process;
  2. Any intervention has to take into account the social dimension of urban development, the cultural diversity of the cities and the complexity of urban areas;
  3. European research capacities and experiences in the urban sector are presently under-utilised.

There is sufficient evidence to consider urbanization one of the major driving forces behind the deep changes Third World countries are experiencing, and to consider the management of urban growth one of the most difficult tasks these countries have to face in the coming decades.

Now it is widely acknowledged that not only are cities of the developing countries becoming not only increasingly large in number and in population, but they are also the most dynamic concentrations of social and economic development consequently, they can help build more progressive and democratic societies. They can also generate a disproportionate share of national wealth, so that their functions within the national economies should be enhanced by government policies and international aid programmes.

Although there is strong evidence that urbanization can induce significant advancements in the social, economic cultural and spatial conditions of cities, actions need to be taken both to hasten these achievements and to cope with the negative consequences of urban growth.

European universities and institutions have been able to carry out a large array of individual and joint research projects and to offer many training programmes on urban problems in developing countries. However, not only have most of the governments of the European Union failed to make good use of this research and training, they have also in recent years been reducing their support for research and aid focusing on the developing countries.

Experience of research and training institutions could be used by the European Union to back up to promote technical assistance programmes and urban projects.

The E.U. can play a key role in shaping new approaches and methods to meet this challenge, while recognising and emphasising the specific social, cultural and spatial potentialities of the cities in developing countries.

To perform this role, the European Governments and institutions must give more attention to urban issues in their programmes, increasing the share of financial aid directed at urban problems and opportunities, and they must relate more closely to research and training institutions in the EU which deal with the urban issues of the South.

As a network aiming at disseminating information, developing research and training capacities, mobilizing and consolidating institutional and individual capacities and ((backing)) urban development projects, N-AERUS can be a key tool of the implementation of new forms of co-operation between European and Developing countries.


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