IPI and the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) in the National University of Singapore convened an expert seminar March 25-26 to explore urban fragility and develop creative approaches for development, security, and governance in cities under stress around the world. This was the first seminar in a new project that aims to understand the causes of urban fragility and the drivers of violence and under-development in cities. The project, “Cities Under Stress: Building Urban Resilience,” asks how cities can manage, adapt, and recover from internal and external stresses and crises.
When governed effectively, urbanization can improve the lives of citizens and bring growth to nations; where cities thrive, literacy and education improve and employment opportunities abound. There are many lessons to be learned in urban spaces where productive government, positive management and service delivery, and innovative spatial organization have prevented instability, rebuilt communities after conflict, and helped to address the growing challenges posed by extreme urbanization.
The seminar in Singapore focused on three case studies of cities in Asia—Bangkok, Dhaka, and Mumbai. Francesco Mancini, Senior Director of Research at IPI, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Principal Research Fellow at ISAS, and Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Policy Analyst at IPI, offered an overview of the sources of fragility and stress in cities around the world, presented the state of the art in this field, and pointed to key challenges for cities under stress. Case study authors who presented their insights were Apiwat Ratanawaraha of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Imtiaz Ahmed of the University of Dhaka, and Amitendu Palit and Chandrani Sarma of ISAS. Participants shared their experience and expertise on city management, development, and security and fragility from many urban contexts.
Experts will gather at IPI in June 2014 to continue the discussion, with presentations on three additional cases—Lagos, Port-au-Prince, and Medellin. In late 2014, the six case studies will be compiled along with the key insights from both seminars, in a publication that examines urban fragility and offers recommendations to foster resilience.