Sen. John Kerry Introduces Legislation to Address Challenges of Urban Development in US Senate

Sens. John Kerry, Dick Durbin and Benjamin Cardin have put forward new legislation in the US Senate that aims to meet the challenges of urbanisation in developing countries and expand existing USAID efforts to craft better strategies for urban development.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts)
Sen. John Kerry (Photo courtesy kerry.senate.gov)

[20 April 2010] -- New legislation has been put forward in the U.S Senate that aims to meet the challenges of urbanisation in developing countries and expand existing USAID efforts to craft better strategies for urban development.

The bill was introduced today by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Maryland). 

The Sustainable Urban Development Act of 2010 will target the challenges of urbanisation in the developing world, where cities are facing unprecedented growth from growing slums, increasing levels of pollution, overburdened transport systems, and a lack of affordable housing.

The Act specifically directs the Administrator of USAID to develop a strategy to foster sustainable urban development. It also urges USAID to consider establishing a senior adviser for urban development and to establish a pilot urban strategies initiative that will help select cities create a policy framework for future growth and development.

“We all recognise that the 21st century is the century of the city. There is an explosion of urban growth around the globe—already the majority of the world’s population lives in urban areas, with approximately one billion people residing in slums,” Sen. Kerry said in a press release.

“The phenomenon of urbanisation will be ignored at our own peril. Responsible citizens of the world must consciously harness their creativity and ingenuity to increase the livability, economic viability, and environmental sustainability of our cities,” he added.

Sen. Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations International Development and Foreign Assistance Subcommittee, also highlighted the importance of addressing urban poverty with an emphasis on capacity building, cooperation among stakeholders and attention to gender issues.

“Half of all the world’s poor live in cities and towns. To tackle the growing poverty at the root of this problem, we must pursue solutions that increase the sustainable capacity of local and national actors, boost cooperation between stakeholders and focus on the needs of those most affected, particularly women,” said Sen. Cardin, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations International Development and Foreign Assistance Subcommittee.


Strong support for the legislation

The International Housing Coalition (IHC), Habitat for Humanity, InterAction and Cities Alliance all expressed strong support for the introduction of the Sustainable Urban Development Act of 2010.

Cities Alliance Programme Manager William Cobbett welcomed the bill as internationally significant. “This is an extremely welcome initiative, which recognises the potential of urbanisation to contribute to economic growth, and poverty reduction in urban and rural areas alike,” he said. “In many developing countries, cities will double their population in the next 15 years. This legislation is designed to help governments turn challenge into opportunity and ensure that future urban growth is both equitable and efficient”.

Peter Kimm, Chairman of the IHC Board, noted, “This legislation represents a milestone in the thinking about current foreign assistance. This legislation would be an important first step towards ensuring access to basic shelter and affordable housing, particularly by residents of slums, informal settlements and impoverished urban areas”.

Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford expressed his appreciation to Sens. Kerry, Durbin and Cardin for introducing the bill. “This important and timely legislation will act as a crucial vehicle for supporting sustainable solutions to expand access to basic shelter and affordable housing. Additionally, the bill’s focus on security of tenure, access to basic services, and other essential programmes will ensure a more holistic and effective approach to U.S. development assistance. I look forward to working with each of you and your colleagues to build support for and achieve swift passage of this critical legislation.”

 

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