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Insight into Cities


Edgar Pieterse - Director, African Centre for Cities and founder member of Isandla Institute.

“If we do not in our own lives, in our affective engagement with the city, begin to cross, to transgress, to experience the other cities we are talking about, the kind of diversity and the kind of integrated city we are saying we are longing for, this alternative city, will remain at the level of discourse.”

Marianne Mazou - Director Africa, The Economist Group

“Urban development has been haphazard, fragmented and characterized by a lack of long-term strategic planning and incoherent investments. For Africa’s expanding cities to function in the future, policy makers need new, innovative approaches to urban development, infrastructure, environmental issues, transportation, social services and housing.”

Tony Mwai - Country General Manager, IBM East Africa

“City planners in Africa are looking to what cities across developed nations have done, and they do not want to repeat the same mistakes. They are very conscious about the opportunity to leapfrog."

Ousmane Thiam - President, International Association of Public Transport (UITP)

“Joining up urban development policies with mobility strategies at an institutional level, and putting in place sustainable transport services and quality infrastructure are key to managing Africa’s urban transformation towards economic viability and growth."

Alexander Bakalian - World Bank Sector Manager for Urban Development and Services in the Africa Region

“Solving the challenge of urban water management is critical to unlocking the economic potential of Africa's cities and improving the lives of city residents."

"We need to understand how water is linked across sectors and innovate in the way we do project planning and implementation. It is noteworthy that some cities in Africa have started to consider integrated planning of water resources as part of their city development strategies."

Ban Ki-moon - UN Secretary-General

“A troubling trend has emerged in many cities in developed and developing countries alike: the growth of up-market suburban areas and gated communities, on the one hand, and the simultaneous increase in overcrowded tenement zones, ethnic enclaves, slums and informal settlements, on the other…"

Prof Mark Swilling - Division Head, Sustainable Development in the School of Public Leadership at the University of Stellenbosch and Academic Director of the Sustainability Institute.

“Is it possible to address the challenge of poverty, if we continue to have a city that provides infrastructures for an increasingly larger middle class to live unsustainably? If it is possible to eradicate poverty while others over-consume, then there may be some hope for the dominant economic paradigms that underpin a lot of urban planning."

Joan Clos i Matheu - UN-HABITAT Executive Director

"What defines a character of a city is its public space, not its private space. What defines the value of the private assets of the space are not the assets by themselves but the common assets. The value of the public good affects the value of the private good. We need to show every day that public spaces are an asset to a city."

Achim Steiner - Under-Secretary General, United Nations and Executive Director, UNEP

“The quest for sustainability will be increasingly won or lost in our urban areas. With foresight, political will and intelligent planning, cities can be the blueprint and map to a sustainable future."

Dr Hiroshi Nakajima - Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)

“There is another side to the coin. That is HEALTH OPPORTUNITIES that are generated through urban development."

Carlo Ratti - Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology SENSEable City Lab

“Cities in Africa probably will not have to go the old fashioned way with the origin-destination surveys or other technologies from the past, but just jump onto these new dynamic systems that are much cheaper and more efficient."

"Allowing people to use social networks, and building applications on top of that, will really address the issues of urban life in cities. Everyone can contribute in some way or another."

David Suzuki - Co-Founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster.

“Eighty percent of us now live in an urban setting, and I think that the solution to our environmental problems is not to say ‘we’ve got break down cities and get everybody back to the land’ – that would be disastrous – but we have to make cities our major habitat…we have to make them more in balance, I think, with the rest of the things that keep us alive."

Bertrand Delanoë - Mayor of Paris, New Cities Summit 2012

“Today’s and tomorrow’s challenges are intelligence, social cohesion, innovation, culture - I could have actually used just one word: the city.”

Robert B. Zoellick - President of the World Bank

“We must put cities on the front line of the struggle to adapt to climate change and reduce the risk of natural disaster… Many cities are already building climate change risks into urban planning and city management.”


Dr Paul Toyne - Group Head of Sustainability, WSP Group

“Cities fight for resources not only within their own countries but with each other.”

"They’re in a global competition for status and investment. Intellectual capital has become a key differentiator, and to be successful in attracting and retaining talent they will need to offer good social infrastructure, efficient transport networks and a safe environment."

Professor Mark Deakin - Head of the Centre for Sustainable Communities, Edinburgh’s Napier University

“They [cities] are magnets that draw people in terms of opportunities, and they are the main centres of trade, communications, culture, economic development, quality of life – all the things that make up our day-today experience, and our judgment of what is good and bad about the world.”

"The successful cities of the future will be those that can achieve that delicate balance between society’s expectations and the reality of what the environment can sustain, while maintaining their economic competitiveness. For engineers, architects and planners, it is a fantastic opportunity to completely reconfigure older cities so that they can meet future demands placed on them."

Dan Hoornweg - Lead urban specialist in the World Bank's central Urban Advisory Unit

“What we’re finding in these figures is not that surprising. What is surprising, however, is that when you add the figures up we’re looking at a relatively silent problem that is growing daily. The challenges surrounding municipal solid waste are going to be enormous, on a scale of, if not greater than, the challenges we are currently experiencing with climate change. This report should be seen as a giant wake-up call to policy makers everywhere.”

Daniel Libeskind - Architect, artist, and set designer

“Cities are the greatest creations of humanity."

Thomas Elmqvist - Professor in Natural Resource Management at Stockholm University and Theme Leader at the Stockholm Resilience Center.

“Rich biodiversity can exist in cities and is extremely critical to people's health and well-being,"

"For the next 40 years urban growth will consume land approximately three times the size of France ... this is often the most prime agricultural land."

Richard Rogers - Architect and urban planner

“The future of civilisation will be determined by its cities and in its cities."


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