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LEAD International Workshop on Sustainable Development

 

LEAD International Workshop on Sustainable Development

14 – 21 September 2003

 

 

Concept Note

Megacities and Rural Community Development

 

Objective

The overall goal of the programme is to enhance the knowledge and skills of decision-makers to develop national and international policies that emphasise the environmentally sustainable and socially equitable use of scarce resources.

The specific objective of this workshop through dialogue and discussion is for the participants to consider the key challenges facing megacities and analyse the practices and institutional mechanism that different cities are using to meet those challenges. Bangkok will serve as the case study area to focus this exchange of experiences.

Background

The United Nations created the term megacities in the 1970s to designate all urban agglomerations with a population of eight million or more. In the 1990s, this threshold was raised to 10 million.

United Nations estimates that by 2015 the world’s population is expected to reach about 7.5 billion people or about 1.5 billion more than at present. The population of Asia’s cities is expected to increase from about 1.4 billion in 2000 to over 2.7 billion in 2030. Two thirds of the megacities are now in developing countries, most of them in East and South Asia (see annex map 1).

By 2015 there will be 13 megacities in Asia with a population of 10 million or more people (see annex table 1). Moreover, about 30 cities in Asia will also be expected to pass the 5 million mark in the next 25 years, bringing to over 50 the total number with populations between 5–10 million. The overall urbanisation rate in Asia, in contrast to the slowdown of the developed world, is rising at the alarming rate of 4 times that of the global rate.

Megacities will be markets for global products. They are engines of local economic growth and will have populations, which command a growing share of the world’s economic resources. They will set not only a new pattern of demand for existing products and technologies, but also become potential sources of innovation and global investment. They will be the forefront of urban development, fresh ideas of urban form, structure and governance, new relationships with the private sectors and communities, and in doing so, influence the behaviour of other cities around the world.

However, these megacities are also confronted with many critical challenges such as waste management, pollution, transportation, congestion areas, energy consumption and in-migration of rural people.

 

Key Issues

There are two areas under which the key issues for this workshop will be discussed:

  • Challenges within the megacities
  • Urban - rural relations

Challenges within the megacities

The challenges facing megacities are increasingly intractable because megacities are experiencing very rapid growth in an atmosphere of higher expectations by the population, compounded by serious existing environmental and management problems. Some of the key challenges facing megacities today are;

  • Explosive population growth.
  • Alarming increases in poverty that contradicts the reasons why a megacity attracts (World Bank, 1991). A concentration of the poor and jobless occurs both in the developing world and, on a smaller scale, in the developed world, as evidenced by the number of unemployed in New York City.
  • Massive infrastructure deficits in the delivery of telecommunications services, the availability of transportation, and the presence of congestion.
  • Pressures on land and housing. China concentrates 5.7 persons per room, as compared to 0.5 persons in the United States.
  • Environmental concerns, such as contaminated water, air pollution, overdrawn aquifers etc. For instance, Mexico City's aquifer is being overdrawn and is sinking by about 1 meter per year (World Resources Institute, 1996).
  • Disease, high death rates, drug-resistant strains of infection, and lethal environmental conditions. For example, 12.6 percent of the deaths in Jakarta are related to air pollution causes (World Resources Institute, 1996).
  • Economic dependence on federal or state governments that constrains the independence of megacity administrations.
  • Capital scarcity, the factor that shapes the economy of the megacity and aggravates its other problems, from infrastructure to environmental deterioration.

This list of problems is indicative and by no means exhaustive. For the purpose of the workshop, it is suggested that the problems and the approaches to the solutions be dealt with under the following categories

  • Poverty (slums, access to housing, income generations etc.)
  • Infrastructure ( transportation, water supply )
  • Environmental challenges (solid waste management, pollution)
  • Governance (decision making processes, co-ordination mechanisms, stakeholder participation)

 

Urban-rural relations

The increase in population of megacities comes both from internal growth as a result of national population increases, improvements in health care and sanitation, as well as from migration from rural areas, smaller towns and other cities or nations. People's perception of economic opportunities, particularly employment, is the major "pull factor" to cities. There are also a number of “push factors” related to rural to urban migrations, ranging from poverty to environmental problems to natural disasters.

Some Asian governments, in the past, have denounced rural-urban migration and urbanisation as the main obstacles to national development, poverty, unemployment, crime, social disorder, slums and squatter settlement and degradation of the urban environment. However with today’s free-market paradigm many see urbanisation as a positive process where by the means of production, (labour, capital and goods) are encouraged to move freely to places where they can be most productive.

The suggested site visits of the workshop relate to these broad categories. More details of the site visits and the expected learning outcomes of each site visit are to be made available later.

 

Case study area: Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Area

Bangkok Metropolitan can be a case study of the above-mentioned challenges and opportunities for megacities management. Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is situated on the low flat plain of the Chao Phraya River. It comprises 50 districts, which covers an area of 1,569 square kilometres and the total population of Bangkok is 7 million by registered record but about 10 million by unofficial counts.

Bangkok has undergone rapid urbanisation and industrialisation since 1960. It is a single centre of administration, business and all kinds of development. About 52 per cent of all the nation’s industries are located in Bangkok and vicinity. However, this rapid development of Bangkok has led to urban problems and has created serious environmental degradation such as air pollution, water pollution, solid and hazardous waste problems, land subsidence, noise pollution and loss of prime agricultural land.

Bangkok has 4.5 million registered vehicles, consumes over 12,000 million litters of fuel - 35% of the total consumption of Thailand - and 3.8 million cubic meters/day of water supply. High demand and over use of groundwater causes land subsidence rate up to 10 cm/year in some critical areas. Each day, Bangkok produces more than 9,173 tons of solid waste and 470,000 cubic meters of wastewater.

To minimise these environmental problems, government has made strict rules and regulations regarding the industrial establishment and imposed restrictions to set up new industries in the capital city. For that reason, industrialists have moved from capital city to peri-urban areas, such as Samut Prakan province, Samut Sakhon province, Pathum Thani province, Nakhon Pathom province, Nonthaburi province etc. As a result, the rural land continues to decrease in peripheral provinces of Bangkok Metropolitan Area for urban development.

The existing patterns of urban developments have followed a radial pattern based on three major transportation corridors leading out of the Bangkok city to the southwest, southeast and north. In addition, developers have started to move in the neighbouring provinces for the cheap land for making housing complexes, industrial premises and golf courses. These developments are happening without proper planning and government interventions, which degrade prime rural cultivated land in a haphazard manner in the peri-urban areas of the Bangkok Metropolitan area. As a result, that creates the leapfrogging types of development in the fringe areas, leaving large tracts of unused land in between and encroachment on agricultural land as well.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), with collaborations with concerned agencies, has worked out on developing the Bangkok Agenda 21 as its comprehensive plan and implementation for the next 20 years. According to the Plan and the Ministerial Regulation, there are 13 types of land uses, which are presented in different colours (see annex map 2). The differences between the land use zones are the building permission, numbers and types of land-uses allowed in these areas. The Plan is targeted to accommodate a population at approximately 10.2 million persons in the year 2017 and 11 million persons in the year 2022.

 

ANNEX

Supporting information for the Concept Note

 Table 1: Increasing Trend of Mega-cities in Asia (population size in millions)

No.

1995

2000

2005

2015

 

City and Country

Pop’n

City

Pop’n

City

Pop’n

City

Pop’n

Tokyo, Japan

25.79

Tokyo

26.44

Tokyo

26.85

Tokyo

27.19

Mumbai, India

14.11

Mumbai

16.09

Mumbai

18.34

Dhaka

22.77

Shanghai, China

13.11

Calcutta

13.06

Dhaka

15.92

Mumbai

22.58

Calcutta, India

11.93

Shanghai

12.89

Delhi

15.34

Delhi

20.88

Osaka, Japan

11.04

Dhaka

12.52

Calcutta

14.30

Jakarta

17.27

Beijing, China

10.83

Delhi

12.44

Jakarta

13.16

Calcutta

16.75

Seoul, Republic of Korea

10.26

Jakarta

11.02

Shanghai

12.67

Karachi

16.20

Delhi, India

10.09

Osaka

11.01

Karachi

11.83

Shanghai

13.60

Dhaka, Bangladesh

9.41

Beijing

10.84

Osaka

11.01

Metro Manila

12.58

Metro Manila, Philippines

9.40

Karachi

10.03

Beijing

10.85

Beijing

11.67

Jakarta, Indonesia

9.16

Metro Manila

9.95

Metro Manila

10.68

Istanbul

11.36

Tianjin, China

8.97

Seoul

9.89

Istanbul

9.95

Osaka

11.01

Karachi, Pakistan

8.47

Tianjin

9.16

Seoul

9.89

Tianjin

10.32

Istanbul, Turkey

7.66

Istanbul

8.95

Tianjin

9.35

Seoul

9.92

Teheran, Iran

6.69

Bangkok

7.37

Bangkok

8.14

Bangkok

9.82

Bangkok, Thailand

6.60

Teheran

6.98

Teheran

7.29

Lahore, (Pakistan)

8.72

-

-

Hong Kong, (China)

6.86

Hong Kong

7.27

Bangalore, (India)

8.39

Source: UN Population Division, World Urbanization Prospects: The 2001 Revision

Urban-rural relations

 The cities of Asia are growing rapidly due to the rural-urban migration and high urban population growth rates. Most of the cities are growing with increasing population, the sprawling cities require large portion of rural land for urban land use. Most of the settlements in peripheries of the cities include both urban and rural elements, relying on a combination of agricultural and non-agricultural income sources. Often there is no sharp distinction between the rural and urban activities (see fig 1); for example small commercial activities such as a table set up in the front yard selling fresh produce occurring next to agricultural activities, and raising of a livestock in the same front yard. This pattern of development is typical of what McGee (1991) termed ‘desakota; a term derived from two Indonesian words for Des (village) and Kota (town/city). It is pattern of development, which includes an intensive mix of agricultural activities and non-agricultural activities, occurs side by side. However when one reaches the crossroads one feels an obvious change from the rural part of the village and the visual effects of urbanization become apparent. This complex field of rural and urban interaction may reach 100 km or more from major urban nodes.

 

Brief Information on Samut Prakan (Suggested site visit area)

Samut Prakan province is situated in south of Bangkok. It lies on either side of the Chao Phraya River. It is the most heavily industrialized and polluted province of Thailand. This has resulted in serious health and environmental problems in the surrounding area. This province consists of more than 5,000 factories and one million people. Currently, the residential and commercial wastewater is treated by septic tanks alone. The industrial wastewater is treated by wastewater plants constructed and operated by either the individual industries or by industrial estates. Effluent from these plants is then discharged directly either to the canals (klongs), Chao Phraya River and Gulf of Thailand or into the street drains which then discharge into the canals, river and Gulf.

References

CITYNET (1995). Municipal Land Management in Asia: A Comparative Study. The United Nation, New York, USA.

Jennifer Curtis. ‘Mega Cities’. Available online: http://hsc.csu.edu.au/geography/urban/mega/megacities/Mega_Cities.html#Introduction. [Downloaded: Aug. 14 2003]

McGee, T. G. (1991). The Emergence of Desakota Region in Asia: Expanding a Hypothesis. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

‘Megacity Documentation’. Frauke Kraas, University of Cologne, Germany. Available online: http://www.megacities.uni-koeln.de/documentation/megacity/start.htm [Downloaded: Aug. 14, 2003]

Rabinson, I. M. (1995). Emerging Spatial Patterns in ASEAN Mega-urban Regions: Alternative Strategies in T. G. McGee and I. W. Rabinson (eds.). The Mega-Urban Regions of Southeast Asia. UBC Press, pp 78-108, Canada.

UNEP (2001). Bangkok State of the Environment 2001, UNEP, Bangkok, Thailand.

United Nation (2002). World Urbanization Prospects, The 2001 Revision Data Table and Highlights. Population Division, Department of Economics and Social Affairs, United Nations Secretariat, New York, USA.

World Bank (1991). Urban Policy and Economic Development: An Agenda for the 1990s, Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

World Resources Institute (1996). ‘World Resources 1996-97 the Guide to the Global Environment, Urban Environment’ Available online: http://www.wri.org/wri/wr-96-97/ [Downloaded: Aug. 22 2003]