Guide Constructed climates : a primer on urban environments

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The book gives the reader a broad understanding of the relationship between urban populations and the environment by describing the earth system components that control what is valued by human society, including clean air and water, a stable climate, good health, and well-being. Wilson examines the context, mechanisms, and consequences of urban environments.

This articulate summary of the science provides a much-needed tool for influencing critical decisions made concerning the landscape of our cities and citizens. Debunking some popular ideas as well as providing evidence about urban greening, it should be required reading for every student of city planning and public policy.

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A Primer on Urban Environments

Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. May 05, Katie added it. Constructed Climates, published in , was a very relevant and informative read. Wilson's scientific background is evident in his writing, but the book is still understandable for a general audience. One basic aspect of the book that I really appreciated is the layout.

Wilson takes a couple pages of text to introduce the scope of each chapter, and the rest of the chapter consists of one argument and study per two pages. Charts and graphs are on the left page, and text explaining the study is on Constructed Climates, published in , was a very relevant and informative read. Charts and graphs are on the left page, and text explaining the study is on the right. It allows the reader to move quickly through the topics while simultaneously gaining an adequate understanding of the argument. This is impressive, considering the book addresses a wide range of arguments and studies.

Wilson supplements the data with descriptions and examples to keep the reader from getting lost in the numbers, and for the most part, explains his points well. Sometimes the one-page-per-topic layout was somewhat frustrating, limiting Wilson from expanding upon some topics, or upon some unfamiliar references.

However, for the most part, Wilson wrote in a manner that was fairly accessible to the average adult. Something that gave Wilson a lot of credibility, aside from his academic credentials, was his admittance that he was not presenting perfect solutions. In his conclusion, he recognized that urban open space has fairly little impact overall in carbon sequestration.

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A more effective way to reduce emissions and greenhouse gases, he wrote, would be to reduce the burning of fossil fuels. Vehicle emissions are the main source of emissions in cities, and reducing driving would be far more effective than increasing vegetation. He also acknowledges the extreme complexity of population density and distribution with relation to land zoning and use.

He discussed the problems that highly packed cities can create, such as increased temperatures and pollution but reasoned that the solution might not necessarily be to spread out the population. Doing so may reduce human impact in cities, but would increase it everywhere else. A key consideration when designing urban projects is the impact it will have on perceived tenure security.

While few people will invest unless they feel secure, this does not necessarily mean that they require full, individual ownership of land or property. The limitations of land titling programs have been widely noted Calderon Cockburn ; Gilbert , and so use of this approach should be tempered by recognition of these limitations Cousins et al Experience shows that the pragmatic approaches to tenure security listed in the previous section can achieve many of the same objectives as individualized titling and at lower cost.

For example, residents in Trinidad and Tobago report that the Certificate of Comfort provides sufficient tenure security as no evictions take place.

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A socially and financially effective means of providing an adequate, or locally acceptable, form of land tenure is to improve the rights associated with existing forms of tenure. These simple measures can significantly enhance tenure security, facilitate service delivery and stimulate investment in home improvements. As a tool, the STDM enables all local stakeholders in a property or piece of land not necessarily the owners to document that space. Rather than considering the land as a mutually-exclusive parcel, the stakeholders document it in ways that reflect and express all of the tenure arrangements and relationships to it, including secondary rights.

Unlike formal land administration systems and software, STDM is open, free, transparent, flexible, mobile and scalable based on the technological capacities of the context in which it is being used. STDM provides an opportunity for social inclusion. The process of establishing these policies and laws should be participatory, gender sensitive and strive to make provision for technical and legal support to affected communities and individuals. Indirect measures may increase tenure security and investment in home improvements significantly and avoid the expense and political sensitivities associated with some formal titling programs.

In Karachi, Pakistan a local NGO organized residents to install a sewer system for up to one million residents, reducing demand for formal titles. In Mumbai, India improved services and ten-year leases stimulated substantial investment in home improvements.

The Constitution of Colombia entitles all citizens access to all public services on the sole condition that they can pay for them; tenure status is not relevant. As a result of these approaches, residents consider themselves sufficiently secure to invest what they can in improving their homes and pay for the services they receive.

It should not be assumed that those living in informal urban settlements are passive victims of an oppressive urban environment. Participatory methods of recording land rights through community enumeration UN- Habitat and street addressing programs surveying and mapping to create addresses as promoted by the World Bank, are effective means of improving security and creating a sense of belonging and citizenship Menon, In most of these examples, residents are free to exchange their property through the market, or work from home, enabling them to use land and property as a means of economic betterment.

They also put available land to efficient use, which reduces urban sprawl, transport costs and emissions, and impacts on scarce agricultural land. More progress is needed to implement and enforce policies that enhance tenure security of the urban poor so that they are better able to share in benefits of development and economic growth.

Valley & Urban Climates

The innovative local approaches described in this brief have not been replicated at the scale and speed necessary to make a significant impact. Despite the fact that these approaches have achieved strong positive outcomes, they tend to be rejected by many government officials. Improved service delivery depends on increasing the capacity of national governments and municipalities as well as on shifting the legal and regulatory environment.

The following recommendations are consistent with these principles. To achieve significant progress in improving tenure security and access to services for all urban citizens, it is important to develop positive relationships with a wide range of stakeholders in the private and civil society sectors. This will help to foster economic growth and land tenure and property rights resilience. As USAID increases its investment in urban projects, host-country mission officers and program staff should be mindful of the following points:.

Skip to content. A Rapidly Urbanizing Planet Urban areas are a vital component of social and economic progress. Land Tenure and Property Rights in Urban Environments The problems associated with urbanization are increasingly seen as failures in governance, including land administration and urban planning, rather than the size of the city per se. Successful Local Approaches to Strengthening Urban Land Tenure and Property Rights The rapid and often uncontrolled growth of urban areas in developing economies has focused attention on the need to improve legal access to land and services for the existing and future urban populations.

All residents in the unobjectionable settlements have this basic form of tenure, which is sometimes accompanied by the provision of public services, such as access roads, electricity, water supply and sanitation. Physical upgrading of informal settlements Colombia, Indonesia, Pakistan : In select locations, informal urban settlements have been provided public open space, water, sanitation and power networks.

These services create a high level of perceived tenure security without a formal change of legal status and have encouraged local improvements and investment. Hekr tenure Egypt : Under Hekr tenure, a modest ground rent is charged to informal settlers on unclaimed government land. It does not grant title, and cannot be transferred, but ensures that if households have to be displaced, they will receive compensation for buildings erected on their plots.

Temporary Occupation License ToL Kenya : TOLs were introduced in Nairobi to stimulate investment in small businesses as well as promote the efficient use of idle public land in strategic locations. Licenses are allocated annually on a renewable basis for a land rental fee and entitle licensees to construct semi- permanent structures.


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The owners of the land benefit by earning income from renters until they decide to develop the site. Local authorities provide services according to the rental period. Once that period expires, communities are given notice to negotiate a similar arrangement with another landowner.

Collective land ownership Thailand : This program in Bangkok provided formal protection against market forces by encouraging collective forms of land ownership in combination with government infrastructure subsidies to improve living conditions. Between and , the program supported upgrading initiatives Boonyabancha Co-operatives South Africa, Philippines : Under co-operatives, land or housing is owned and run by and for members, whether they are customers, employees or residents.

Members have an equal say and share of profits deriving from shared land and housing assets. Community Land Trust CLT Kenya : A CLT is a mechanism for creating community ownership of land, locking in land value and underpinning sustainable development for the benefit of a defined locality or community. CLTs enable low-income or middle-income local residents to own or rent decent housing.

They are limited in developing countries by the need for a legal framework and administrative support. Moving Toward Urban Tenure Security Globally Experience demonstrates that each tenure option has benefits and limitations. Recommendations More progress is needed to implement and enforce policies that enhance tenure security of the urban poor so that they are better able to share in benefits of development and economic growth.


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As USAID increases its investment in urban projects, host-country mission officers and program staff should be mindful of the following points: Recognize that tenure systems are extremely complicated and conduct an initial review of existing tenure options in the location of concern. Try to determine which these are available to or accepted by local people and build upon these before introducing new options. Note that integrating informal tenure systems into more formal tenure systems will take time.

Impacts can be both positive and negative and affected parties should be consulted and informed about potential costs and benefits before a project is designed and implemented. Encourage the use of strategies participatory mapping, government commitments to recognize communities that will provide short-term security for residents in urban and peri-urban areas who are at-risk.

This will enable next steps, including regularization and upgrading for all residents. Working collaboratively with affected communities, civil society and local officials, identify infrastructure projects that will improve access to or directly provide water, sanitation and electricity service while taking care to protect rights so that local people are not wrongfully displaced or disproportionately harmed as a result of infrastructure projects.


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