Future Session #6 Economic perspectives on urban futures and resilience

Learnings from the first session on urban development!

agenda August 28, 2019

On August 27th, 2019, The Spindle, in collaboration with the Humanity Hub, organised the 6th Future Session of the year about Economic perspectives on urban futures and resilience building. This session was hosted by Paula Nagler and Anne-Marie Hitipeuw who inspired the participants on their expert fields in urban development.   

In the series of three Future Sessions, urban development is a topic of discussion. In this article, you’ll find the main learnings of Future Session #6. Worldwide cities grow with an immense speed which leads to emerging challenges that urban dwellers face. In 2050 more than 50% of the total population in the world will reside in urban areas. Already in 2030, there will be 41 megacities of 10 million or more people. This means huge challenges and possibilities for NGOs and other civic organisations.

The session existed of a plenary part of two talks, followed by lively group discussion. Chief Resilience Officer at City of The Hague Anne-Marie Hitipeuw introduced the strategy to approach resilience in Dutch cities, inspired by the RC100 initiative. The general talks provided the input for four group discussions in which urban challenges, solutions and stakeholders were discussed and consequently presented. Paula Nagler, economist and urban expert at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, facilitated the session and talked about the most pressing issues that fast-growing cities currently cope with. 

Urban resilience in The Hague, shocks and stresses
Anne-Marie opened with the first talk on what strategy The Hague takes to build and improve resilience in the city. Using the ‘shocks and stresses method’, the municipality seeks to prevent instability and learns from other cities that have overcome severe shocks, becoming highly adaptive units. Infrastructure is currently under pressure by three macro processes: climate change, urbanisation and globalisation. According to the United Nations, cities worldwide must brace themselves to mitigate vulnerabilities against extreme shocks such as pollution, congestion, overpopulation and (cyber) terrorism. Multifunctional design is one of the main approaches to build resilient cities. 

Inspiring for The Hague’s efforts to build resilience, these brustling initiatives were briefly discussed by School of Shapers and Fablab. Check out these slides for the entire content of the presentation!

Urban labour markets and the informal sector
Paula Nagler provided the next talk and gave a broad overview of urban issues. After an introduction of the current state of fast-growing and geographic expanding cities, the question of why people massively migrate to cities was addressed. Push and pull factors drive the outflow of rural populations. Rural population pressure on land, lack of jobs, and limited public services stimulate people to come to cities. However, urban job markets are lacking behind severely, migration does not follow job creation. Countless issues arise from this, amongst which:

  • Growing informal job market and vulnerable employment
  • Increasing exploitation of workers and stigmatisation for being illegal
  • Declining quality of & lack of access to services due to the large competition
  • Pollution, congestion, lack of security, lack of decent housing 

Entrepreneurship plays a key role in building an agency of individuals in both the formal and informal sector. There is a need to acknowledge the potential of local start-ups which are wide-spread throughout the global south. Four inspiring examples of bottom-up innovations that fitted their own context are Yoco, Kobo360, Safeboda, Mpesa. See the elaborate presentation here!

The take-aways from a macro perspective would be:

  1. There is a large informal sector in fast-growing cities that needs to be recognised. Especially providing youth employment is challenging and deserves attention. 
  2. Coordinated efforts among key-actors are required to ensure inclusive cities.

Brainstorm towards solutions
After the plenary part, the audience split up in four groups to discuss four distinctive topics, related to urban development. The groups were very diverse in terms of backgrounds, professions and demographics. Do you want to know what solutions for urban challenges were proposed? You’ll find their conclusions and outcomes here!


Interested to discover more about important trends and their relevance for the future of development cooperation? Join us in the next Future sessions! The upcoming two sessions will still focus on the future of cities. The next one will be on How the circular economy can generate opportunities for developing cities and will take place on September 24. Sign-up via the link!

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