An editorial by SFI Professor Luis Bettencourt describes potential promises, and perils, of global urbanization.
In The World Post, Bettencourt discusses how gradual improvements in governance and city planning could alleviate poverty and prompt city-dwellers to “fulfill their socioeconomic creative potential.” By contrast, poor governance could entrench or expand the world’s slum neighborhoods, where the hardscrabble demands of survival consume natural resources and human time.
"Poor people survive (in cities) by procuring essential goods and services themselves: by fetching water, negotiating for food, waiting at the hospital, commuting for many hours, etc," he writes. "Most of their time is spent in basic activities that keep them going but that do not typically cumulate in terms of knowledge, skills or wealth...A society where people are 'just surviving,' where they cannot summon the time and energy to learn new skills or develop new economic ventures or overcome civic or technological challenges is a stunted human society. Thus, the principal role of the city, and of urban planning more generally, is to provide the conditions for people to fulfill their socioeconomic creative potential."
Read the article in The World Post (August 29, 2014)