The three themes of cities in transition, resilient cities and inclusive cities give shape to the congress tracks, each dealing with cross cutting themes linking to the environmental, social, demographic, political and economic challenges facing cities and urban populations, and aiming to present an inspiring, positive vision and exploration of solutions to address these challenges.
Cities face an uncertain future, but inevitably they will be confronted by significant environmental challenges and risks and will wish to emerge from the economic turmoil of the early 21st century more resilient to economic change.
The idea of resilient cities captures the idea that human settlements must be adaptable to changing conditions, not only economic and environmental conditions and of course climate change, but also a new social complexity generated by the coming together of different groups and different values in urban settings. Resilient cities are able to accommodate change in all its forms.
Social justice is central to the idea of the inclusive city and justice in this sense is best served through an acknowledgement that it is people and not ‘physical things’ that make cities.
People and communities are instrumental to the shaping of the urban fabric. This final theme is concerned with urban governance, the role of the citizen in planning, and how communities come together to address their own needs. It is also about civic leadership, about diversity in cities and about accommodating needs and recognising the rights of individuals, of families and of communities. But inclusivity extends to the economic sphere. Building the inclusive city involves political empowerment, fostering sustainable economies and seeing ‘city building’ as a social project as much as an exercise in physical development.
Cities are in constant transition, often facing huge changes in their physical fabric, in their economies and amongst their resident populations.
This transition from current state to a future condition, which it is hoped will be more socially inclusive and more environmentally and economically resilient, is underpinned by national and global flows of population, economic restructuring at multiple levels and the extent of political influence. In response to these forces, some cities are experiencing huge growth and face the challenge of expanding and adapting infrastructure provision, not least the provision of homes. Conversely, other cities are faced with a decreasing population and face different challenges of regeneration and revitalisation. The tracks under this theme give broad coverage to the idea of cities in transition.