A quantitative approach: urban governance under global urbanization

The development of cities worldwide is under a global urbanization process. Since 2007, the global urban population first exceeded the rural one and it is predicted that by 2050, two thirds of the global population will reside in cities. More concretely, between now and 2050, the world’s urban population will grow by 2.5 billion, an addition of about 170,000 people a day, more than the size of the San Shia district where the IPUG is located. Cities have been with us since the beginning of human civilization, but we know surprisingly little of how urban development takes place. Given the fact that we are in the era of cities, there is an urgent need for a science of cities in order for us to deal with the problems that arise from the global urbanization process. There are many ways of looking at cities; however, the approach adopted by the IPUG to urbanization is complexity theory that considers cities as complex systems consisting in numerous agents interacting with each other giving rise to emergent, collective phenomena, subject to structural constraints or institutions. The complexity approach to cities has been proved extremely useful in understanding how cities work. The implications for such an understanding include a bottom-up approach to plan, regulate, and govern cities. Traditional top-down approach to making general plans for controlling urban development is no longer suitable for managing modern cities with much larger scales and more advanced technology. What we need is an understanding of how a web of plans interacting in a complex way with each other partially shape urban development. In particular, planning alone is insufficient for coping with difficult urban problems. A broader perspective of urban management would be more effective in dealing with these problems that includes planning, regulating, and governing cities. Planning implies making interdependent decisions for urban development. Regulating identifies rights in land development. Governing implies making collective actions. Improving human settlements requires all three action modes.

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