On the heels of World Urban Forum, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, along with Senators Dick Durbin and Benjamin L. Cardin, has introduced new legislation to address the challenges of urbanization in developing countries.
The legislation builds upon Secretary Clinton’s video address on sustainable urbanization at the Fifth Session of the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 26 March 2010. It proposes to expand existing US Agency for International Development (USAID) efforts to craft better strategies for sustainable urban development.
The Sustainable Urban Development Act of 2010 (S. 3229) seeks to deal with unprecedented growth from enlarging slums, increasing levels of pollution, overburdened transport systems, and the lack of affordable housing.
The bill would direct the USAID Administrator to develop a strategy to foster sustainable urban development; consider establishing a senior advisor for urban development; and establish a pilot urban strategies initiative that will help a select number of cities create a policy framework for future growth and development.
“We all recognize that the 21st century is the century of the city. There is an explosion of urban growth around the globe – already the majority of the world’s population lives in urban areas, with approximately one billion people residing in slums. The phenomenon of urbanization will be ignored at our own peril. Responsible citizens of the world must consciously harness their creativity and ingenuity to increase the livability, economic viability, and environmental sustainability of our cities,” said Chairman Kerry.
“For the first time in recorded history, the majority of the world’s population lives in cities,” said Senator Durbin. “Rural flight strains cities’ ability to provide clean water and sanitation, safe housing and basic infrastructure. This bill will put an emphasis on smart growth that will ensure that today’s cities not only meet the basic human needs of their residents, but also become the economic and cultural hubs of the future.”
“Half of all the world’s poor live in cities and town. To tackle the growing poverty at the root of this problem, we must pursue solutions that increase the sustainable capacity of local and national actors, boost cooperation between stakeholders and focus on the needs of those most affected, particularly women,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations International Development and Foreign Assistance Subcommittee.