Cities: laboratory of the future

Dreams and designs: cities are a unique juxtaposition of chaos and opportunity, as the new issue of the GIZ magazine akzente shows.

For the first time in history, the world is becoming a city. Unprecedented numbers of people now live in cities: more than half the world’s population already call urban areas home, and this is set to rise to around two thirds by 2050. How should we envision the liveable and sustainable cities of the future? What will they look like? And how will they be organised? These questions are discussed in the new issue of akzente, which shines the spotlight on cities.

Ghanaian professor of urban planning Seth Asare Okyere describes the current situation and outlines possible development scenarios for Africa in his forward-looking essay. He argues that we should be aiming not for glass palaces hidden away behind secure walls or smart, hi-tech districts but affordable housing, adequate green spaces, universal basic services and greater citizen participation. These are the things that make even rapidly expanding cities good places to live in.

Cities are coming under increasing pressure: they are having to provide for growing numbers of people within space constraints – and now tackle a pandemic as well. Yet density of population is actually a great opportunity to reach a lot of people and to work together to find sustainable solutions for living space, transport and climate change mitigation.

Maybe the current hiatus caused by the coronavirus crisis actually offers an opportunity to tackle these pressing issues more quickly. At least, that is how Bonn’s Mayor, Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, sees it. In an interview, he explains what the crisis has to do with sustainability and why the pandemic has made sustainability even more important.

Alongside the global upheaval caused by COVID-19, GIZ is currently focusing on Germany’s Presidency of the EU Council. In the EU Special in this issue of akzente, we report on Germany’s objectives for its Presidency and GIZ’s cooperation with the EU. We will be adding reports, analysis, interviews and guest articles to our special feature section on the akzente website in the coming weeks and months.

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