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30 Years of economics for development
Event name
UNU-WIDER Project Workshop on Beyond the Tipping Point: Asian Development in an Urban World - Kolkata, India
This event has been changed to be held in Kolkata, India
15 December 2008 - 17 December 2008
Contact person

UNU-WIDER Project Workshop Beyond the Tipping Point: Asian Development in an Urban World

Project Directors Jo Beall (London School of Economics), Basudeb Guha-Khasnobis (UNU-WIDER),
and Ravi Kanbur (Cornell University)

Throughout history cities have played a defining role in social, political and economic transformations. And yet in the past 50 years development research and policy has placed a primary emphasis on national development strategies and rural poverty alleviation. The resilience of the ‘urban bias’ thesis has obscured the extent of urban poverty, as well as the specific challenges and opportunities posed by urban development. Given the inexorability of urbanization in the south and an increasing recognition that the location of poverty is shifting to cities, it is critical that the challenges facing cities and towns now become an international development priority.

In 2007 the number of urban inhabitants will surpass rural dwellers as a percentage of the total world population. This workshop will take stock of what we know and what we need to know about cities and development; to gather experiences of urbanization and urban growth from across the world; and to offer policy options for an inexorably urbanizing world.

Some of the specific issues to be considered are

  • What are the forces driving urbanization and how do they differ from one region to another?
  • What are the economic and environmental costs and benefits of urban agglomerations?
  • What is the link between urban infrastructure and poverty reduction?
  • What are the gender dimensions of urbanization and urban living?
  • How do urban spaces affect interaction between different ethnic, racial and religious groups? Does demographic concentration exacerbate political conflict or promote engaged state-society relations?
  • Is our urban future to be characterized by poverty and inequality with fear and violence or sustainable and prosperous urban spaces characterized by inclusiveness and cosmopolitanism?
  • How can urban planning and urban development strategies be integrated into and help inform national and international development policy?

The workshop is intended for researchers and policymakers from the academic, government, and development communities. Participants attending UNU-WIDER projects typically come from a university, research institute, government department or international organization. The workshop is open to advanced PhD students in economics or other social science disciplines.


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