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Managing Urban Growth
Managing Urban Growth
In the unique setting of Brunei Darussalam, over 100 participants from Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom gathered for the 44th EAROPH Regional Conference 2011 on the topical theme "Managing Urban Growth: Challenges for Small Cities". The Crown Prince of Brunei Darussalam opened the conference with a welcoming speech.
The theme of the conference was indeed timely. On 11 October 2011, the world population reached 7 billion people, with 5M new urban residents per month: we are in the urban century! Never before has the majority of the world population lived in cities. Asia is one of the fast growing regions: In 2050, the Asian population is expected to reach 3.3 Bn people, 63 % of the world's population.
Whilst European countries and North America suffer from the economic crisis, Asian countries haven't been affected as badly. Even so, they are still growing at remarkable rates. The question of how to manage this urban growth is of great interest. The conference approached this subject with three subthemes:
- Natural resources and climate change
- Housing and asset management: Planning and implementation
- Good governance
Unquestionably, the rapid urban growth occuring in Asian cities uses limited natural resources. Furthermore, cities struggle to keep up with the needed infrastructure. Indonesian cities, just to name one example, have a growth target of 6-7 % per annum. Despite this growth, cities are striving for the ideal of being the most "livable" of cities. Huge investments into infrastructre are required to meet the needs brought about by this growth. However, these investments must be done carefully as they are likely to produce management costs three times as high as the original investment. Furthermore, natural and social assets can suffer from the spatial expansion of urban areas.
One approach to managing this rapid urban growth is through high density housing. This is a widely accepted approach to keep negative impacts as minimal as possible. Providing the growing urban population with (affordable) housing by high-rise living, the people's changing needs must be taken into consideration. The buildings alone are not enough. Communities must be fostered to prevent disfunctional human settlements.
The key approach to tackle these difficulties lies in sustainability. Environmental integrity, social equity and economic prosperity can provide the livability that the growing urban population needs. Governments alone can't possibly achieve these objectives by themselves. Public private partnerships and public participation are key factors, and collaborations and coordination between all stakeholders is of paramount importance.
The role of international organisations of professionals such as EAROPH and IFHP is to provide the networks to support these processes with the necessary knowledge.
All presentations can be downloaded from http://www.earoph.info/2011paper.html
The conference was rounded off by a technical tour to six housing schemes around Bandar Seri Begawan, including projects in the water village of Kampong Ayer.
Update for IFHP Members (see our membership categories and benefits here).
Besides the gain of new insights and perspectives, IFHP and EAROHP have strengthened their partnership by signing a Memorandum of Agreement. From now on, both the members of IFHP and EAROHP will profit from an intensified exchange, based on common events, publications, and so forth.
Last but not least, we enjoyed making contacts to a number of EAROPH members and are looking forward to seeing them again at future events, possibly in the framework of our Centenary year in 2013.
2nd photo courtesy of Azizul Ameir via creative commons license