New Tool Seeks to Measure the Benefits of Urbanization

A new city prosperity index has been unveiled by UN-Habitat at this week's World Urban Forum. The index seeks to catalog the ways in which global urbanization can encourage shared prosperity and human development, reports Claire Provost.
September 7, 2012, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Included in UN-Habitat's State of the World's Cities report, published on Wednesday to coincide with the sixth World Urban Forum (WUF) in Naples, Italy, a new "city prosperity index" seeks to measure progress and prosperity "beyond a narrow focus on economic growth."

According to Provost, "The new city prosperity index will attempt to track progress across five key issues: productivity, infrastructure, quality of life, equity, and environmental sustainability. This should help urban policymakers pinpoint problem areas, it says."

"'Highly unequal cities are a ticking timebomb waiting to explode,' warned the report, adding that the size and quality of public space is a good indicator of a city's 'shared prosperity.'"

"A lopsided focus on purely financial prosperity has led to growing inequalities between rich and poor, generated serious distortions in the form and functionality of cities, also causing serious damage to the environment – not to mention the unleashing of precarious financial systems that could not be sustained in the long run," said the executive director of UN-Habitat, Joan Clos, in a foreword to the report.

Critics contend that UN-Habitat's efforts to reduce global inequality fall short by failing to "prioritise issues related to rights and the global housing crisis," notes Provost.

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Published on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 in The Guardian
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