International
Federation for
Housing and
Planning

Making Cities Socially Cohesive

Globalization has brought us uniformity in the flow of capital, consumerism, growth based development, ubiquitous media and by extension, increasingly common urban aspirations.  All of these forces can be thought to be cohesive forces. To some extent they are.

Yet we know social cohesion means and requires more.  It implies common concerns of social equity, an ability to co-exist and integrate with non-native cultures while maintaining individual and group identity, self-expression, a sense of justice and all the benefits that come from shared communication and understanding.

Today, the uniqueness of cities comes less from their physical form and architecture; and more from the way in which such physical infrastructure and their prevailing social systems are perceived and used.  While the visual character of cities across geographies is increasingly similar, the urban complexities in them are now far more subtle and all the more important.  These complexities are often found in the social space of our relationships and our sense of what places mean.  Ensuring that such complexity is inclusive, productive and viable will continue to remain one of our biggest urban challenges and opportunity.

Questions that will be raised within this program include:

  • What are the emergent concepts around community building?  How can increasingly complex social needs be better integrated into everyday design, development and building industry practices?
  • How can communities realize shared goals while maintaining their social, cultural and functional identity?
  • How can new partnerships between the market, NGO’s and the body politic overcome increasing gridlock and financial limitations?
  • How can current and emerging technologies build confidence in civic participation?
  • How are cultural subtleties expressed in different urban settings?  How does this change our use and perception of space?
  • Where are we similar and where are we different?  Why should this matter?
  • How does the current and anticipated flow of human migrants (with related flows of capital, talent, & creative energy), alter cities?  How are these flows likely to change? What are the likely longer-term consequences?