In­clu­sive growth de­pends on cities

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

And in met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas such as Lon­don and Bal­ti­more, the dif­fer­ence in life ex­pectancy be­tween poor and wealthy neigh­bour­hoods just a few miles apart can be more than 20 years.

As the site of both eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity and dis­par­ity, cities are where we must look to tackle in­equal­ity. In March, the OECD, the Ford Foun­da­tion, Brook­ings, and other in­sti­tu­tions launched the In­clu­sive Growth in Cities Ini­tia­tive, in part­ner­ship with New York City Mayor Bill de Bla­sio and 20 other may­ors from around the world. By bring­ing to­gether “Champion May­ors” to de­fine a shared in­clu­sive-growth agenda, the Ini­tia­tive ac­knowl­edges the all ages and back­grounds can learn mar­ketable skills. For ex­am­ple, in At­lanta, Mayor Kasim Reed has launched a part­ner­ship be­tween a lo­cal startup in­cu­ba­tor, the city’s work­force de­vel­op­ment agency, and a cod­ing school to pro­vide young peo­ple with men­tor­ship net­works, through which they can de­velop fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy and crit­i­cal think­ing skills, while also learn­ing how to write code.

Sec­ond, cities should en­sure that em­ploy­ment and en­trepreneur­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties are avail­able to all peo­ple, in­clud­ing women, young adults, im­mi­grants, and dis­ad­van­taged pop­u­la­tions. In Stock­holm, which took in 8,000 asy­lum-seek­ers be­tween fall 2015 and spring 2016, Mayor Karin Wan­ngard is de­vel­op­ing a new type of school for adults.

As part of a com­pre­hen­sive in­te­gra­tion strat­egy, the new schools will teach the lan­guage, cul­tural, and tech­ni­cal pro­fi­cien­cies nec­es­sary to par­tic­i­pate in Stock­holm’s job mar­ket. In Seoul, Mayor Park Won-soon is lev­el­ing the play­ing field for small and medium-size en­ter­prises with tar­geted fi­nan­cial sup­port, fairer trans­ac­tion and sub­con­tract­ing rules, and in­for­mal-work reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion.

Third, cities must en­sure high-qual­ity, af­ford­able hous­ing for all in safe, healthy neigh­bour­hoods. In Paris, Hi­dalgo’s “right of first re­fusal” plan al­lows the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment to ac­quire res­i­dences that come on the mar­ket in se­lected neigh­bour­hoods so that it can pro­vide them to poorer res­i­dents at risk of be­ing dis­placed.

Fi­nally, cities should en­sure that pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices – in­clud­ing pub­lic trans­porta­tion, wa­ter, en­ergy, waste man­age­ment, and broad­band – are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble for all. In New York, de Bla­sio’s ID­NYC ini­tia­tive is pro­vid­ing free gov­ern­ment-is­sued iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards for all res­i­dents – in­clud­ing the home­less, un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, and former con­victs – so that marginalised groups can make use of the city’s re­sources.

Ef­forts such as the In­clu­sive Growth in Cities Ini­tia­tive and the United Na­tion’s Habi­tat III con­fer­ence are help­ing to turn the tide against ris­ing in­equal­ity one city at a time. The more we can cap­i­talise on lo­cal so­lu­tions for com­mon global prob­lems, the more progress all of us will make.

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