The newfound American engagement on international urban issues lauded by UN-HABITATS’ Christopher Williams and the Wilson Center’s Blair Ruble last week
has been formalized in legislation introduced today by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), and Senator Dick Durbin. (D-IL)
From Modernize Aid:
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: 1) develop a strategy to foster sustainable urban development; 2) consider establishing a senior advisor for urban development; and 3) establish a pilot urban strategies initiative that will help a select number of cities create a policy framework for future growth and development.In a statement for the release of the legislation, Senator Kerry echoed Williams’ thoughts on the subject of urbanization and U.S. foreign policy. “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,” Kerry said.
Facts about the Sustainable Urban Development Act of 2010:
(From the Press Release, COMTEX)(Summary Courtesy Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX)
* The bill includes a statement of policy that recognizes urban development as an objective of United States foreign policy and overseas development assistance, particularly programs that foster improved urban governance, management, and planning, promote the formal provision of and access to essential urban services and infrastructure, expand access to basic shelter, affordable urban housing, promote economic growth and alleviate poverty, and respond to and prepare for environmental and climatic challenges.
* It directs the Administrator of USAID to develop a strategy to foster sustainable urban development that will update the Making Cities Work Urban Strategy. Specifically:
– Assess the feasibility of establishing a senior advisor for urban sustainable development at USAID, who would provide leadership for coordinated programming, technical support for urban development, disseminate best practices, guide urban programming, and help build the capacity of government officials in developing countries to more effectively manage urbanization
– Consider establishing a pilot urban strategies initiative that would support, through technical and financial assistance, a select number of cities in developing countries by identifying, developing, and implementing long-term sustainable urban development strategies to provide a framework for future growth and development in identified countries
– Review and assess existing or past U.S. programs and foreign assistance strategies designed to improve urban development and ensure that strategies to address urban development and slums in developing countries are integrated into the broader strategic foreign assistance plans of USAID and the Department of State
– Develop a strategy for providing long-term United States support for sustainable urban growth and development initiatives that draws upon the expertise of U.S. city and regional elected officials and professionals, private foundations, NGOs, policy, education and research organizations, United Nations organizations, and multilateral development banks.
Photo Credit: “US Capitol” courtesy Flickr User ehpien