chapter  5
33 Pages

Managing the urban environment

In Chapter 4 we showed how poverty and vulnerability are manifest in cities, illustrating in particular how tenuous livelihoods and inadequate housing increase social disadvantage and risk. Here we take forward our concern with vulnerability by focusing on the risks associated with deficient urban services and neglect of the urban environment. Inadequate water supply and sanitation, poorly managed transport systems, as well as unanticipated disasters all increase risk and urban inequality. We consider these issues in terms of their impact on urban residents, on the overall functioning of cities, as well as how the urban environment contributes to broader environmental concerns, including climate change. Many such problems relate to bad urban management. The potential to equitably and efficiently manage urban services exists, although this is not always realised. We are equally capable of managing wider environmental hazards and risks, such as atmospheric pollution, yet here too we often fall short. When we fail we threaten the capabilities of the most vulnerable urban dwellers, the optimum functioning of us all and, by putting at risk the sustainability of our environment, the freedom of future generations.