Are these malls in rural South Africa beneficial, or the wrong type of development initiative?
With 5,000 acres of land being set aside to put up Kenya’s most ambitious infrastructure project to date, the construction of Africa’s “Silicon Savannah” is set to begin. Konza Techno City is a planned sustainable, world class global technology hub aimed at attracting international businesses and residents. One question, though: Will it work?
“Down there you’ll see the State Opera, to your right you’ll see the Wenceslas Square. And over there, a prostitute was beaten to death for refusing to give the client what he wanted…”
Incongruous, but incongruity is what you get with Pragulic, a Prague-based social enterprise, which is taking on the city’s homeless as tour guides. Karim, a former male prostitute and Peter, an ex-police officer, are leading a group of around 20 tourists (mainly Czech, with a small contingent of Germans) through the underside of the Czech capital. Pragulic is only one of a handful of homeless tour organisers around the world.
For a long time, the environmentalists’ mantra was Thoreau’s declaration, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Increasingly, however, environmentalists have become preoccupied by the concrete jungle: the city, dressed in glass, concrete, and steel. The city’s importance can’t be over-stated, because half the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and because the city consumes for more than 75 percent of resources, worldwide. In some parts of the world cities are growing rapidly; in others they are losing population and falling into disrepair. Yet, cities everywhere are being forced to reimagine themselves due to variability in population and climate. The way they do so will have massive consequences for our communities and collective ecological resilience.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brasil – As the summer is coming to a close for those in the Northern Hemisphere and the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games are now behind us, we cannot help but anticipate the excitement that will ensue in another four years in the shimmering landscape of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Being the first South American city to ever host the Olympic Games we had the opportunity to witness the transformation of a city during the Rio+20 Earth Summit preparing to host 2014 FIFA World Cup Games and 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The series of mega events brings Brazil’s will to become a modern economic powerhouse on the center stage of the international developing community. However, Brazil’s success is threatened by how it will resolve its social and environmental problems, and maybe most important the public’s fear to its blood shed routines in their urban landscape. On picturesque mountains of Rio de Janeiro scale favelas or shanty towns in organized chaos of urban areas.
As I took part in some of the side events today on sustainable transport, a cognitive dissonance was created in my mind. It happens quite often that brilliant ideas somehow do not marry so easy with everyday reality. Even at Rio+20. People from all over the world – large global multinationals and the most powerful countries – have gathered at Rio’s Athletes’ Park in the city outskirts. The topic under discussion – bright new ways of managing the concrete spaghetti that feeds the daily maneuvers of urban inhabitants.
I have been sitting on an air conditioned bus over an hour, enjoying ocean vistas on my left and thickly forested mountain jungles on my right. Huge black rock cliffs soar out of thick green vegetation into low-roaming misty clouds. Bikini-clad, Brazilian-waxed Brazilians sun or jog along the beach. It’s the most beautiful traffic jam ever. I barely notice that I am going nowhere.
Friday June 15, Rio De Janeiro, Impanema district. My first walk around the town leads me to the “favela” or shanty town close by. It is located on a hill, so I take the elevator to the top. From the elevator, the view across Ipanema and Cocacabana is breath-taking. The favelas of Rio are like islands, most often located on the numerous hills of Rio city. Noticing the security standing at the entrance of the favela, I worry that my adventure may be reckless for a foreigner traveling alone.