The number of urban slum dwellers worldwide is staggering. According to UN-Habitat, 827.6 million people live in slums around the world. Despite meeting a Millennium Development Goal to significantly improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020, the total number of people living in these areas still increased by 55 million between 2000 and 2010. By 2020, the world slum population is projected to reach 889 million. With the majority of people now living in cities, urban priorities are synonymous with human security and environmental sustainability and must be accounted for in the global development agenda.
Recognizing the challenges ahead, the Woodrow Wilson Center's Comparative Urban Studies Project, USAID's Urban Programs team, the International Housing Coalition, Cities Alliance, and the World Bank have teamed up to co-sponsor a third annual academic paper competition to strengthen ties between urban policymaking and scholarly work on urban development, and to disseminate evidence-based programming. Changing Cities: Climate, Youth, and Land Markets in Urban Areas highlights the work of the top eight submissions.
Join us in a discussion on climate change, youth, and land markets with four of the winning authors. In her chapter on distributed energy innovations, author Allison Bridges focuses on informal settlements, arguing that "it is imperative that the security of energy service provision in low-income areas be incorporated into comprehensive urban planning in order to lessen the deleterious effects of a constrained energy supply." In her comparison of two market gardens in Cotonou, Benin, Lindsay Carter finds that beyond the actual level of land security, perception of land insecurity, "can have tangible implications for producer investment activity and interventions by nongovernmental organizations." In her chapter on participatory community involvement of at-risk youth in Argentina, Valerie Stahl argues that "it is not only important to provide young people with the resources they need to further advance their societal status, but it is imperative to foster a sense of participatory belonging..." Marika Tsolakis picks up on this theme in her research on informal English Clubs in Senegal. She argues that planning for youth education should incorporate existing "perceptions on school, work, and day-to-day realities" and illustrates the English club's role as more than just an opportunity to practice English, but "a forum for a type of debate that encouraged deliberation on key social issues."