By 2007 more people will live in cities and towns than in the countryside. For the first time in history, human experience will be predominantly urban rather than rural. It’s a shift that took over two centuries in the industrialised world, but has taken less than half that time in developing countries – bringing massive social transformation to billions of people’s lives, often with no infrastructure or services to support them. The result is all too evident in the sprawling shanty-towns and slums – and the poverty, crime and violence they breed – that have sprung up in and round cities from Kingston to Calcutta, from Lagos to Sao Paolo. In 1996 leaders meeting at the Istanbul City Summit pledged themselves to a programme designed to improve the lives of the urban poor. This Life programme asks how cities can organise themselves to take advantage of the new globalized economy to benefit all their inhabitants – rich and poor. With contributions from key figures like Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of Habitat; Dr. Sheela Patel from SPARC and the National Slum Dwellers Association in Bombay; Peter Marcuse, Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University.
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