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From Unsustainable to Inclusive Cities
Chapter 8: Sustainable Development for the Urban Poor: Applying a Human Rights Approach to the Problem, by David Westendorff
Despite the plethora of programmes, charters and international accords promulgated since the 1992 Earth Summit to promote sustainable development, living conditions for the low-income majority in cities of the developing countries have continued to deteriorate. Essential services—housing, clean water, sanitation and energy—remain out of reach for so many, while luxury communities, smart buildings and super-highways for cars and information increasingly cater to the wants of the well-to-do from Argentina to Zimbabwe.
At the same time, national governments and international agencies are reducing transfers and aid that could allow cities in the developing world to build themselves in socially sustainable (inclusive) ways. Instead, the message national and local governments are receiving from international agencies, development banks and chambers of commerce is to rely principally on private finance to establish, rebuild or extend needed infrastructure, services and affordable housing. The pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme of the earlier perception that the national and local state should have a crucial role in establishment and management of infrastructure and essential services.