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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘globalization

[URBAN NOTE] “The New Urban Agenda: What Our Cities Can Be”

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Nick Beresford and Ashekur Rahman write at the Inter Press Service about an impending effort to make sure that our world’s urban future won’t be a dystopian one.

The future is urban and nowhere is that more true than in Bangladesh. If current rates of urbanisation continue, the country’s urban population will double by 2035. Around the Bay of Bengal, a mega city would join Dhaka to Chittagong, creating one of the world’s largest conglomerations. Whether that process produces a congested toxic unlivable mess of concrete and steel, or whether it becomes a thriving, connected, wonderful city to live in, is almost entirely down to the political and policy choices we make.

This week a critical meeting in Quito, Ecuador, will look at those critical political and policy choices. The Habitat III conference to adopt a “New Urban Agenda” builds on the Habitat Agenda of Istanbul in 1996 (Habitat II).

The new agenda is intended to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanisation. The conference is expected to result in a concise, focused, forward-looking and action-oriented outcome document on making cities and human settlements equitable, prosperous, sustainable, just, equal and safe until 2030. By the middle of the century, a majority of the world’s citizens —four out of five people — could be living in towns or cities. Indeed, in the time since the Habitat Agenda was adopted, the world has become majority urban, lending extra urgency to the New Urban Agenda.

Habitat III is one of the first major global conferences to be held after the adoption of two key agreements, last year. Agenda 2030, a new development plan for the world; and a new Climate Change agreement adopted in Paris. It offers a unique opportunity to discuss the important challenge of how cities, towns and villages are planned and managed in a sustainable manner, to meet the new global agenda and climate change goals.

The New Urban Agenda, agreed upon at Habitat III in Quito, will guide the efforts around urbanisation of a wide range of actors — nation states, city and regional leaders, international development funders, UN programmes and civil society — for the next 20 years. Inevitably, this agenda will also lay the groundwork for policies and approaches that will have long lasting impact.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 21, 2016 at 9:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Brexit threatens London’s status as ‘best city in the world’ — even if nothing changes”

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Lianna Brinded’s Business Insider article makes a point that is all the more sadly ironic on account of London’s mostly anti-Brexit vote in the recent referendum.

PwC, in collaboration with BAV Consulting, surveyed a group of 5,200 people from 16 countries about where they believe the best cities in the world to be.

The demographic was made up of “an equal number of business decision makers, informed elites, and other general population adults over 18 years of age.”

London hit the number one spot in the ranking of 30 best cities in the world after the respondents scored the capital highly across 40 metrics, which included infrastructure, influence in terms of economics, politics, as well as culture, entertainment, and great food.

Matthew Lieberman, a director at PwC, told BI that Brexit could damage the perception of London as an open city and this could have a negative impact on the country overall.

“London scores number one in the metric ‘connected to the rest of the world,’ number two in political influence and number two in being a leader; these attributes are contributing to London’s position as the number one city overall – but they could foreseeably be impacted by Brexit,” said Lieberman.

“We’ll have to see if it manages to keep the same ranking next year, or if, due to Brexit, we see a slip. We do not currently have empirical data on this, but based on judgment and anecdotal evidence, we would presume that there’s still a lot of uncertainty and perceptions are in flux.”

Written by Randy McDonald

October 19, 2016 at 4:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Big Winner From London’s Brexit Exodus Isn’t Even in Europe”

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Bloomberg’s Gavin Finch notes that New York City, not necessarily any single European centre, could benefit the most from the decline of London post-Brexit as a financial centre.

New York, even more than Frankfurt or Paris, is emerging as a top candidate to lure banking talent if London’s finance industry is damaged by Britain’s divorce from the European Union, according to politicians and industry executives.

Follow @Brexit for the latest news, and sign up to our Brexit Bulletin for a daily roundup.

That’s because the largest U.S. city, rather than European finance hubs, is the place that rivals the depth of markets, breadth of expertise or regulatory appeal boasted by London. Continental Europe will win some bank operations to satisfy regional rules ensure time-zone-friendly access to its market, but more may eventually shift across the Atlantic to the only other one-stop shop for business.

“There is no way in the EU there is a center with the infrastructure or regulatory infrastructure to take the role London has,” particularly in capital markets, John Nelson, chairman of Lloyd’s of London, said in an interview. “There is only one city in the world that can, and that is New York.”

For many global investment banks, London is their largest or second-biggest headquarters. If the benefits of scale are diminished by having to move roles to Europe, banks may look to shrink their London operations even further by moving any workers able to do their job just as well from a different time zone, including global-facing roles in merger advisory, trading and back-office technology and finance.

Additional jobs may move as specific trading activities seek a new epicenter. London Stock Exchange Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Xavier Rolet was blunt, saying that if Brexit strips London of the ability to clear euro derivatives trades, the entire business would move to the only other city able to clear all 17 major currencies: New York.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 19, 2016 at 3:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Tourists Could Destroy Venice—If Floods Don’t First”

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Simon Worrell’s National Geographic interview with author Salvatore Settis, author of a book arguing that much of the current touristification of Venice both threatens its future as a living city and augurs ill for other metropolis, is thought provoking.

Most of us who have seen Venice have gone there as tourists. According to you, we are part of a “plague” that is destroying the city. Should we stay away?

The fact that many tourists are willing to go to Venice is in itself a good thing. I am against any system whereby the number of entry tickets to the city is limited. The minute you would have to pay to enter the city if you are not a citizen, Venice would already have been turned into a theme park. That is precisely what I don’t want to happen.

But Venice cannot be a city that lives only from tourism. The reason Venice had its glory is because the city and Venetians were able to develop over centuries a number of productive activities. Why can’t we promote the same thing in Venice today? Approximately 2.6 citizens abandon the city every day. Venice now has 54,000 inhabitants, which represents a loss of 120,000 people in the last 50 years.

Meanwhile, the cost of living in Venice is increasing every day. Young people cannot afford to buy or rent an apartment in Venice, so they are moving to neighboring places. In Switzerland, where I taught for some years, federal law mandates that in every city, even the smallest village, you cannot have more than 20 percent of [houses owned as] second homes. The reason why the Swiss government decided to do this is precisely not to encourage this loss of local identity. If the citizens abandon Venice and it becomes only a tourist location, it will lose its soul.

You describe several ways in which cities can die. Give us a brief summary and explain how Venice is threatened by what you call “self-oblivion.”

First, when an enemy destroys them, like Carthage, or when foreign invaders colonize violently, as happened with the conquistadores in Mexico or Peru. But the most dreadful danger for a city now is loss of memory. By loss of memory, I mean not forgetting that we exist, but who we are.

Long before Venice, an example is Athens, the most glorious city in classical Greece. It completely lost its memory and even its name. In the Middle Ages nobody knew where Athens was because the name of the city got totally lost. It was called Setines, or Satine, which was a barbarized form of the name. In Athens, there was no culture or memory of the city’s past glories. Sometimes visitors from Byzantium would travel to Athens and ask, “Where is the place where Socrates used to teach? Where is the place where Aristotle used to teach?” Nobody could answer them.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 17, 2016 at 3:15 pm

[FORUM] What impact has Donald Trump had on your politics?

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Inspired by my post earlier this evening about the fondness of Toronto’s Doug Ford for Donald Trump and what he represents, my [FORUM] question is simple: How has Donald Trump influenced your local politics?

Here in Canada, one thing the Rob Ford years demonstrated is that there is an appetite for anti-intellectual right-leaning populism. This does not match up perfectly with Trump’s right-wing nationalism, as Rob Ford’s strong support in marginalized immigrant communities on the periphery of Toronto demonstrates, but it does match up enough.

How are things in your particular jurisdiction being shaken by this?

Written by Randy McDonald

October 15, 2016 at 11:59 pm

[ISL] “Iceland’s Fishing Industry Roots for Rate Cut Amid Krona Gains”

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Omar Valdimarsson’s Bloomberg article on the dynamics of Iceland’s fisheries is interesting.

While the world around it frets over ultra-low interest rates, Iceland’s fish export industry is rooting for another rate cut to maintain market share amid a strengthening krona.

“The appreciation of the krona is a large factor in the operations of fishing companies and can impact their bottom line,” Heidrun Lind Marteinsdottir, managing director of Fisheries Iceland, an industry lobby, said in a telephone interview. “It is a risk that needs to be taken under special consideration and, if need be, acted upon.”

Although fisheries is no longer the country’s main industry – tourism and aluminum smelting are now bigger revenue generators — it still accounted for more than a fifth of all 2015 exports. But after enjoying a good run in the post financial crisis years, it is beginning to feel the squeeze from an appreciating krona as the economy gets back on track.

Iceland’s currency has gained more than 11 percent against both the dollar and the euro over the past 12 months and is expected to continue to rise by as much as 5 percent through 2017, according to Islandsbanki, the second largest lender on the island.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO notes that 1975 was a formative year for Toronto.
  • Centauri Dreams speculates about the oceans of Pluto and Saturn’s Dione.
  • Crooked Timber talks about Hannah Arendt’s arguments about the importance of bearing testament.
  • D-Brief looks at the cnyodont, an extinct reptile ancestral to mammals.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of Patti Smith.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze suggests that K-class dwarf stars are best for life.
  • Language Log looks at a merging of Wu and Mandarin Chinese on signage.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on how supply chains can hide corporations from responsibility.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes an American court ruling to the effect that barring Syrian refugees is unconstitutional discrimination.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on collapsing life expectancy in many Russian regions, looks at Russia’s withdrawal from the plutonium agreement with the United States, and criticizes American policy towards Belarus and Lukashenka.