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Comments by the Moderator

From: Luciano d'Andrea
Category: Category 3
Date: 24 Mar 2000
Time: 09:13:14
Remote Name:


Dear colleagues,

The first relevant contributions and papers to the E-Conference start to come. The issues which seem to draw attention are mainly three:

- the role of people and different actors in urban development;

- the tools and strategies in urban development;

- sustainable urbanization.

These contributions appear to mirror the main concerns of the discussion on development issues in these last years.

First. Development is mainly related to mobilization of social actors and people at large. It is not a mere question of infrastructures and economic dynamics. This seems to be particularly evident in the urban context, where the actors are particularly active, diversified and effective.

Second. The increasing role of actors changes radically the traditional strategies and tools in urban development. The need for consolidating and strengthening approaches based on governance and partnership among public and private actors stressed in Istanbul is emerging.

Third. It is difficult, in this framework, to deal with social, economic and ecological development as three separate issues, while they seem to be embedded in the same "tangle" of phenomena and processes characterizing the city.

In the Discussion paper opening the E-Conference, some questions were put forward in this regard.

a. The first set of questions concerns the real weight of the City Summit as a turning point in the debate and vision of human settlements. The centrality of the city, the issue of the urban governance, the recognition of the role of civil society, the link between research and action, the acknowledgment of the informal economy: all these issues were placed at the core of the Habitat Agenda. The same decision making process in Istanbul was particularly open to non-governmental actors. But we have the feeling that the City Summit follow-up is characterized by a decreasing attention towards these issues; overall speaking, the "soul of Istanbul" seems to have been only partially transferred in the City-Summit follow up. Is this only a perception or something more? Have the Forum's members experienced a relevant change in the overall approach to the city after Istanbul, at least in cultural terms?

b. The second aspect is how the Habitat Agenda started to influence national and local policies, directly or indirectly. Again, a set of new political guidelines were launched: the strategy of the enabling environment, the methodology of partnership, the integrated approach to city planning, the focus on the link between globalization and urbanization or a new generation of policies for managing rural-urban relationships. Have the Forum's members experienced a relevant change in the overall approach to the city after Istanbul, at least in cultural terms, but above all in policy-making? Is the Habitat Agenda under implementation somewhere? Do governments, municipalities or other relevant actors know the Habitat Agenda or are they at least indirectly influenced by it in some extent?

c. The third aspect concerns poverty. In the discussion paper, it was stressed that the city could play a central role in poverty eradication. In the paper, urban settlements are viewed as the most favorable environment for the establishment of increasingly effective forms of control on social and economic risks and for making effective the new perspective of poverty eradication launched by the United Nations and other international actors. But is it correct to see the city in this way, id est, a sort of "human technology" able to control risks? Can we approach the city, as a risk-control machine or is this representation of the city too much optimistic or naive?

In the preparation of Istanbul + 5, these knotty problems (the real weight of the City Summit, the influence of the Habitat Agenda and the relationships between city and poverty eradication) will be at the center of the debate. This is why it is particularly important, in the framework of the E-Conference, to receive contributions, papers or simple opinions by the FRHS's members on these issues.

Luciano d'Andrea Moderator

Last changed: March 13, 2002