Vng International Events Essay

Cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America are going through rapid changes: they are expanding, engulfing more and more peri-urban and agricultural land; they are densifying and gentrifying, leading to processes of inclusion and exclusion within the city; and completely new urban centres are being built from scratch. A central aspect in these processes is access to and competition for scarce land resources. In the fourth episode of New Urban Agenda we are going to find out how we achieve safe, resilient and inclusive cities in Africa, Asia & Latin America.

Several researchers and partners affiliated to the Netherlands Land Academy (LANDac), Utrecht University (SGPL), CEDLA and VNG International will pitch their projects addressing urban land development in various cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They will show how ‘world class cities’ are projected in Ghana and Ethiopia; how refugee camps in Jordan are turning into vibrant cities; how Khartoum (Sudan) is planned to become the ‘Dubai on the Nile’; how large-scale infrastructure projects are developed in Beira (Mozambique); and how urban cemeteries in Lima (Peru) are transformed to attract new investors. Using videos and photos, the presenters elaborate on current developments and the governance challenges involved. In an open discussion, the session will address possible contributions of the New Urban Agenda and explore ways to better steer such urban land processes towards safe, resilient and inclusive cities.

‘Post-aid interventions’ in Beira, Mozambique, by Murtah Read

Urban development is first and foremost a political affair, with interventions in the built environment forming the spatial manifestation of negotiations, interests and societal assumptions. For many cities in the global South, the challenges of sustainable urbanization are seen as far outweighed by the available means to deal with them, thus leaving cities in dire need of support. Such support has increasingly been sourced through non-ODA modalities, endorsed by the development community as more effective than traditional development assistance. Based on ongoing research in Beira, Mozambique we will illustrate that such ‘post-aid’ interventions bring novel complexities not captured by mainstream governance frameworks and posing new challenges for social equity within the context of urban development.

New Cities in Africa, by Femke van Noorloos

New private property investments in Africa’s cities are on the rise, and they often take the form of entirely new cities built up from scratch as comprehensively planned self-contained enclaves. They are promoted by real estate investors as eco-cities, smart cities, satellite cities, and large-scale gated enclaves of a mixed residential and commercial land use (combined with technology hubs or Special Economic Zones).  These spectacular iconic cities are showcases in the global economy, and often appear to be speculative real estate projects rather than fulfilling actual needs. This research sets an agenda for critically examining their actual and expected implications.

Deathscape challenges in Latin American cities by Christien Klaufus

In 2050 66% of the world population will be living in cities and 6.4 billion people will be in need of decent housing and basic services, one of which is the basic human right to a dignified burial space. Most cities have not yet developed scenarios that guarantee the availability of sufficient dead-disposal spaces for all in the near future. Yet, most cities are already running out of burial space today. Conflicts between groups claiming ‘land for the living’ and those claiming ‘land for the deceased’ are expected to increase further if population densities in cities are to rise  (as SDG 11 requires). With 80% of the population already living in cities, Latin America epitomizes that struggle over deathscapes. This research program explores the deathscape challenge in Latin American metropolises to set an agenda for comparative studies that contribute to solutions for socially and environmentally sustainable urban deathscapes.

© Christien Klaufus

International Municipal Assistance to Al Zaa’tari Refugee Camp and Mafraq Governorate in Jordan, by Joan Stegenga

The protracted nature of the Syrian crisis and the spillover effects constituted a major area of distress for Jordan as a whole. According to UNHCR estimates, over 50% percent of registered Syrian refugees live in the northern parts of Jordan. While the refugee camps in Zaa’atari and Azraq have attracted the attention of the world community, the reality is that over 80% of the refugees are urban refugees who have settled amongst Jordanians in host communities. This have caused an extreme population growth especially in the northern governorates and even doubling of its original population size since 2011. At the invitation of Minister Lilianne Ploumen and in cooperation with VNG-I City of Amsterdam assists in the improvement of the living conditions for the inhabitants of Al Zaa’tari camp and the Mafraq region through improved planning and operational capacity. The required type of planning is considered as a holistic and overarching approach, integrating both refugees response as host community planning perspectives and taking into account gaps and complementary synergies between them.

Al Zaa’tari Refugee Camp by Chris de Bode

VNG International is the International Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG).

VNG International The Hague is a cooperative with VNG, as representative of all Dutch municipalities, being the only member. Some 50 highly motivated professionals work for VNG International. Except for support staff all are project managers. Most have a background in development studies or administrative sciences.
VNG International’s office is at the first floor of VNG headquarters. This is a monumental building with modern, light office space. It was renovated in 2009 and re-opened by queen Beatrix.

Legal status

On the 30th of June 2016 the legal status of VNG International is changed from a Cooperative to a Limited Liability company following changed tax regulations in The Netherlands. The legal status of VNG International changed already before in 2010 from a Limited Liability company to a Cooperative due to changes in tax regulations by that time. Like last time, the change in legal status will not have any implication for our operations and contractual liabilities.
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