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Asia-Pacific Urban Challenges Reviewed

Finance Desk
Asia-Pacific Urban Challenges ReviewedAsia-Pacific Urban Challenges Reviewed

Housing officials from Asia-Pacific nations on Sunday called for sustainable polices to address critical urban challenges in the region's mega cities.

Inundated by a host of daunting issues ranging from urban poverty and identity crisis to environmental degradation and low resilience of disaster-prone cities, participants in the Third Meeting of the Regional Slum Upgrading Working Group pooled minds in panel debates to advance the mission of urban regeneration and slum upgrading.

The group is a follow-up to Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development which was last held in Soul, South Korea. The objective of this year's meeting in Tehran was to find feasible solutions to bridge the gap between policy and practice in urban regeneration and common urban challenges.

Abbas Akhundi, Iran's minister of roads and urban development urged the conferees to promote effective regional cooperation to tackle development challenges.

"A major goal of APMCHUD is to promote inclusiveness, security, and the resilience and endurance of cities and habitats and to achieve this housing development goal is a prerequisite. However, this is a complicated issue which demands common regional endeavor," he said.

Akhundi also warned about the exponential growth of cities and called for a unified, comprehensive plan to "regenerate" habitats from the smallest village to large metropolitan areas.

"The provision ensures universal access to safe housing and to neglect this would result in disarrayed habitats prompting the urgent need for urban renewal," the minister added.

Akhundi referred to the constitutional rights of Iranians to suitable housing and said a regulation passed in 2014 has made attention to distressed dwelling areas as well as informal settlements a centerpiece of government policy.

Akhundi told reporters that installment sales of apartments would soon begin and hoped the imitative would give the sluggish housing industry a new lease on life.

New Agenda

Mohammad Saeid Izadi, deputy minister and managing director of the Urban Development and Revitalization Organization told the conference that his company has devised a framework for urban regeneration that he termed a New Urban Agenda.

Enhancing linkages between inner city development and urban areas on the periphery, addressing urban poverty, mapping urban construction quality and developing a comprehensive database comprising housing, population, and activity data with systematic monitoring and regular updating are among the  New Urban Agenda polices, according to Izadi.

He said his organization had reached an agreement with Bank Maskan to renovate distressed urban areas through 55,000 loans provided by the lender.

Majid Roosta, a board member of the company said by 2020 close to 1.4 billion people will be living in distressed urban areas, half of which will be in Asia. He added that although the Asia-Pacific region has achieved relatively high economic growth rates in recent times, it has not necessarily translated into better living conditions for the masses.      

According to the United Nations Habitat for a Better World --one of the sponsors of the event—cities are facing unprecedented demographic, environmental, economic, social and spatial challenges. It predicts that by 2050 7 out of 10 people will be living in cities.

In the absence of effective urban planning, the consequences of rapid urbanization will be dramatic. In many places around the world, the effects can already be felt: lack of proper housing and growth of slums, inadequate and out-dated infrastructure, safety and crime problems, and pollution and health issues as well as poorly managed natural or man-made disasters and other catastrophes due to the effects of climate change. 

Financialtribune.com