“We need to get where climate policy is in urban policy,” said WRI Ross Center Global Director Ani Dasgupta in an interview with Urbanet. Speaking at the World Urban Forum last month, he noted that cities are vitally important to economic, environmental and social outcomes, and yet urban policy doesn’t get the same attention as other global challenges.
“If you compare it with climate policy, Obama, the presidents, the prime ministers are going to the COP to talk about climate policy, but not so much for urban policy,” Dasgupta said. “Why is that? That’s the shift that has to take place.”
“Most people in the world live in cities. Most economies are dependent on what happens in cities. Most poor people soon will live in cities,” he said. “It’s really a conundrum, why is it not on the global agenda?”
Dasgupta noted that the recognition that urban policy needs more attention is starting in some places, but needs to spread. In India, the current government is focusing on improving cities with the recognition that the nation will follow. Minister Hardeep Singh Puri unveiled a new initiative from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs at the World Urban Forum that aims to ensure every citizen has a home by 2022. Puri said the Global Housing Technology Challenge seeks to build or incentivize the construction of 12 million new homes, many in cities.
“My view is this shift is taking place, but it’s not taking place everywhere,” Dasgupta said. “[It’s] not just cities are good… Cities need to work better, for economic performance of a country, for social outcomes for its people and obviously for a climate outcome for the world.
“I think these interconnections between the three have not been articulated as strongly and our hope as WRI is exactly to show the economic case, show the social case, so this shift can take place.”
Schuyler Null is a Communications Associate for WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.