Rich countries fall short on providing safe water, sanitation for all: UN expert

WHILE three of the world's most developed countries – United States, Japan and Slovenia – generally comply with the human right of providing their people with safe water and sanitation, they fall short when it comes to marginalized populations, a United Nations expert said yesterday.

"I was especially shocked by what I saw in Sacramento, California, where the city decided to shut down or to restrict the opening hours of public restrooms, forcing homeless people to improvise other types of solutions to be able to exercise the right to sanitation," UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, said in releasing her report on her visit to the US earlier this year.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Melbourne, Vienna and Vancouver top liveability survey

FOR the first time in nearly a decade, Vancouver has lost its top ranking in the Economist Intelligence Unit's liveability survey, with Melbourne taking first place and Vienna second.

While "miniscule", an adjustment to Vancouver's score for transport infrastructure due to intermittent closures of the Malahat highway was enough to drop Vancouver to third position behind Melbourne and Vienna.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Comprehensive strategies needed to reduce risk of mega-fires: UN

A NEW report released by the United Nations says the growing number of mega-fires around the world may be contributing to global warming and is calling on governments to introduce comprehensive strategies to reduce the risk of such fires.

The report's release follows a series of high-profile mega-fires, including the February 2009 Black Saturday blazes in Victoria, Australia that killed 173 people and record-setting fires last year in Russia that claimed the lives of 62 people and burned approximately 2.3 million hectares.

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Renewable sources could meet majority of global energy demands by 2050

RENEWABLE energy sources, including solar power, wind, biomass and hydropower could meet nearly 80 per cent of the world's energy supplies by 2050 if governments pursue policies that harness their potential, according to a new report released this week.

The United Nations-backed report presents the findings of more than 120 researchers working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

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Global population to surpass 10 billion by 2100

THE global population is projected to exceed 9 billion before 2050 and then reach 10.1 billion by the end of this century if current fertility rates continue at expected levels, according to United Nations figures released this week.

According to the United Nations, most of the increase in the world's population will come from "high fertility countries," mainly in sub-Saharan Africa but also in some nations in Asia, Oceania and Latin America.

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City challenges can be overcome with innovative planning: UN

UNITED Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week called for the use of science and technology to build better cities and address issues such as housing, land use, equitable access to land, shelter rights, sanitation and energy efficiency.

With most global population growth in the coming years expected to occur in urban areas of developing countries, the UN said there would be rising demand for land, housing, basic services and infrastructure.

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Australia and Canada dominate liveability survey

THE Economist Intelligence Unit has released its annual ranking of liveable cities in the world, with Vancouver once again finishing on top.

Australia and Canada shared six of the top ten most 'liveable' cities in the world according to the survey, which assesses which locations around the world provide the 'best' or the 'worst' living conditions.

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Demographia releases results of international housing affordability survey

The 2011 7th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, ranking 325 housing markets throughout the world, was released last month.

In the survey, Hong Kong ranked as the most severely unaffordable metropolitan area while Australia was found to be the most severely unaffordable country.

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Planetizen releases top ten book list for 2011

PLANETIZEN has released its ninth annual list of the ten best books in urban planning, design and development published in 2010.

The Planetizen editorial staff based its 2011 edition list on a number of criteria, including editorial reviews, popularity, Planetizen reader nominations, number of references, sales figures, recommendations from experts and the book's potential impact on the urban planning, development and design professions.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Report examines the health impacts of traffic air pollution

A REPORT by a Special Panel of the Health Effects Institute (HEI) has found that there are substantial gaps in what we know about exposure to, and health effects of, traffic air pollutants, but there is sufficient evidence that exposure to traffic-related air pollution cause asthma exacerbation in children and suggestive evidence that they might cause other health effects.

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Secretly constructed 'castle' ordered to be demolished (UK)

THE High Court has ruled that a castle-style home must be demolished after the owner failed to obtain planning permission, instead concealing the 'castle' behind straw bales and tarpaulin.

Robert Fidler, 61, who built his mock Tudor castle, hiding it during construction and for some time afterwards behind straw bales and a tarpaulin, this week lost a high court battle to prevent its demolition. The 4 bedroom home, located in Surrey, about 64 kilometres south of London, includes ramparts, turrets and cannons.

Planning authorities found out about the unauthorised structure in 2006, after Mr Fidler and his family had already spent four years living there. Mr Fidler was issued an enforcement notice in March 2007 requiring the castle's demolition on grounds he had erected it without planning permission.

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Tories outline planning system reforms (UK)

THE Conservatives have outlined reforms of the planning system, causing a "battle between property business giants and the Conservatives", with developers fearing the changes could create a "NIMBY's charter", according to

It has been reported by that the Conservative Party is set to launch its policy paper on the future of the planning system, which will replace regional development plans and targets with a localised system.

Proposed changes include third party right of appeal, allowing residents to object to a decision to allow developers to build.

The proposed planning system reforms are part of a localism agenda driven by the Conservative Party.

Source: Chris Smith, 'Developers attack Torry planning reforms', 1 February 2010,, <>.

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Earthquake leaves devastation in Haiti: what role does planning have?

On 12 January 2010, Haiti was struck by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake, causing widespread damage and destruction, killing tens – maybe hundreds – of thousands of people and affecting some 3 million, according to the United Nations.

This article brings together articles and multimedia that illustrate some of the planning and development implications of the Haiti earthquake.

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