The solution to the problems Cairo faces

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A plethora of investments ranging from the expansion of the Suez Canal to the construction of a new city might not be the solution to the problems Cairo faces wondered a certain Eleonora Vio a year ago, in her articled query titled: Can Sissi turn around Egypt’s economy with mega projects?

Apart from its hopes for a democratic future, could this article of Trade Arabia be an answer?

Megaprojects ‘driving Cairo office space demand’

The real estate market in Egypt’s capital Cairo continues its rapid growth with the construction of large-scale projects stimulating economic expansion and driving demand for Grade A office projects, according to Savills, a leading real estate services provider in the Middle East.

There is a systematic shift of tenants towards newer developments away from the erstwhile central business hubs in Central Cairo, towards modern speculative and purpose-built developments across New Cairo in the East and Sheikh Zayed City in the West, stated Savills in its latest report that analyses the Cairo Metropolitan Area (CMA) office market for the first half.

Demand is also driven by new market entrants – both domestic and global – along with expansion and consolidation exercise, it stated.

The city’s strong demographic vantage in terms of young, educated and comparatively low-cost workforce and a further improvement in global investor confidence towards the economy in the medium-to-long term will continue to drive demand for office real estate in the city, it added.        

Head of Egypt Catesby Langer-Paget said: “As Egypt’s macro-economic situation continues to improve on account of prudent policy measures, our recent research shows that the demand for office space in Cairo has increased, driven by a mix of relocation, expansion and expansion led consolidation exercise.”

The sustained demand for office space has led to a spurt in project launches and completions over the past few quarters. This increase in the availability of Grade A options has created a short-to-medium term pressure on rental values across most markets.

However, headline rental values continue to remain stable but we have noticed enhanced flexibility among landlords with regards to incentives and lease terms. During H1 2019, rents for Grade A stock across Heliopolis ranged between E£300 – E£350 / sqm / month while in New Cairo and Sheikh Zayed City it ranged between E£350 – 400 / sqm / month.

“We noticed strong interest from the pharmaceutical sector, technology, banking and financial services and media firms to occupy Grade A space within the city,” stated Langer-Paget.
 
“In terms of new supply, no new projects were completed during the current review period. However, to meet this growing demand, we anticipate approximatively 155,500 sqm of Grade A space to be handed over across key areas such as New Cairo and Nasr City over the next six months,” he added.

TradeArabia News Service

Three ways cities can help feed the world . . .

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In effect, three ways cities can help feed the world . . . without costing the Earth, per Silvio Caputo, University of Kent seem to be one of the few options remaining for life on earth to carry on.

Climate change is underway, and human activities such as urbanisation, industrialisation and food production are key contributors. Food production alone accounts for around 25% of global carbon emissions. Ironically, the changing weather patterns and more frequent extreme weather events resulting from climate change also put the world’s food supplies at risk.

Food production drives deforestation, meaning there are fewer trees to absorb carbon dioxide, which contributes to the greenhouse effect. What’s more, the fertilisers and pesticides used to protect crops have caused a dramatic decline in insect populations, and in soil fertility, by affecting the microbial organisms that enrich the soil and enable plants to gain nutrients.

At the same time, the world population is rising and there are expected to be more than 9.5 billion people on Earth by 2050. In response to these projections, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is campaigning for a 60% increase in food production by 2050, by intensifying agriculture to be more productive and use fewer resources, all without increasing the amount of farm land.

It’s not yet clear exactly how this “intensification” should happen. Alternative methods, such as organic farming, are respectful of soil ecology and insect life and can restore soil fertility. But they cannot, at present, produce as much food as industrial agriculture.

Organic produce: delicious, but not yet scalable. Shutterstock.

Yet the idea that we need more food is debatable. Although, according to the FAO, there are 821m people globally suffering from hunger, the world produces 50% more food than is needed to feed the global population. Another estimate from biologist and author Colin Tudge suggests that the current food production can feed as many as 14 billion people. But one third of this food is wasted because of distorted supply systems, unjust food distribution and unhealthy and unsustainable diets.

So, the efforts of experts in the food sector should not concentrate on agriculture intensification, but rather on strategies to change patterns of consumption and waste at a local and global level. My own research on urban agriculture and sustainable cities suggests there are three main areas where effective changes can be made.

1. Recycling food waste

Food consumption needs to become “circular”. This means that organic waste such as food scraps does not go to landfill, but is instead transformed into compost (which will be needed in a transition to organic agriculture) and biogas.


Read more:
Ugly veg: supermarkets aren’t the biggest food wasters – you are


At present, organic waste is only recycled to a small extent, with some countries such as Germany and the Netherlands leading, while others including Italy and Belgium lag behind. But there are new technologies emerging to make this process easier.

Waste not… Shutterstock.

For example, the Local Energy Adventure Partnership (LEAP) has created an anaerobic digester designed for an urban context: this machine can transform organic waste from residential or commercial buildings into compost and biogas that can fuel urban food growing.

Some experts also suggest that some food waste – if treated properly – could be used as animal fodder: a practice currently forbidden on hygiene grounds. If reinstated, this measure could reduce the environmental impact of grain cultivation, as less is grown to feed livestock.

2. Urban farming

Another option is to decrease demand for agricultural land by growing food in cities, where more people need it, thereby reducing the distances food has to travel. This would also allow producers to map and match consumers’ demand more effectively, by producing close to the places where food is consumed.

Vertical farming: on the up. Shutterstock.

There is a lot of research on urban agriculture and how cities can support it, spanning from vertical farms – hydroponic systems enabling cultivation on vertical surfaces – to principles for planning cities that facilitate the use of land, rooftops and other spaces to grow food into a continuous green infrastructure.


Read more:
How urban farmers are learning to grow food without soil or natural light


In this area, too, it’s possible to find innovations designed to make urban farming easier and more sustainable. For example, The Farmhouse is a modular housing system suitable for vertical stacking that enables all residents to grow food. And Blockchain Domes is a patented system that uses excess heat from computer servers to provide optimal thermal conditions for greenhouses in colder climates.

3. Changing diets

The third option is to encourage people to change their diets. Growing middle-income groups in developing countries are consuming ever higher quantities of meat, cheese and eggs. In China, since 1990, consumption of beef and poultry has quadrupled. But the diet of farmed animals is heavy in grains, which instead could be used to feed people more efficiently. Also, cattle farming requires vast quantities of water and grassland, sometimes obtained through deforestation.

Getting people to eat less meat will help to ease the pressure on the world’s food system. In cities, governments, research institutions, communities and businesses can collaborate on food initiatives to give people healthier, cheaper and more sustainable choices – but this requires political will and organisation between different levels of government.


Read more:
Bug burgers, anyone? Why we’re opening the UK’s first insect restaurant


Clearly, each of these approaches has a limited scope of action, compared to agricultural techniques or strategies which can be deployed at an industrial level. But with so many promising proposals, there can be a many-pronged approach that that makes efficient use of the existing resources in cities, while also changing consumers’ habits. Together with these three changes, more effective policies for food justice and sovereignty can establish fairer food supply chains and more just distribution of food around the world.

Silvio Caputo, Senior Lecturer, University of Kent

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Urbanisation Trends and the ensuing Acceleration of . . .

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There is no doubt that urbanisation trends and the ensuing acceleration of . . . lifestyle of many had a definite bearing on life on earth generally. The causes could perhaps be attributed to the recent additional availability of high earnings in the developing world’s peoples, and this had a direct impact if only by their sheer numbers on the whole planet. These trends got concentrated as elaborated on in the proposed article of Audrey de Nazelle, Lecturer in air pollution management, Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London in certain regions only of the globe.
So, would urbanisation trends and the ensuing acceleration of . . . life generally, have a similar impact on all those ‘left behind’ other regions?
We republish this article posted in the World Economic Forum’s Environment and Natural Resource and Security Cities and Urbanization for its apparent interest for the MENA region.

What would happen if we removed cars from cities?


“It’s outrageous that we’ve reached a point where it’s healthier for some people to stay inside and not exercise, rather than walk outside and breathe polluted air” Image: REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski

 

 

 

 

 

Air pollution is now the fourth biggest killer in the world after smoking, high blood pressure and diet. It contributes to more than six million deaths every year. The majority of these are in poorer nations. Worryingly, air quality may become increasingly worse with rapidly expanding urbanization.
More than half the world’s population now live in cities. By 2050, this will reach two thirds. As more people move from rural areas to cities, there will be more cars on the roads, more traffic congestion hotspots near homes and workplaces, and less green space.

 

City dwellers are already suffering from fumes and smog on their daily commutes. It’s outrageous that we’ve reached a point where it’s healthier for some people to stay inside and not exercise, rather than walk outside and breathe polluted air.
Why do nations, political leaders, experts and campaigning organisations want to reduce air pollution? The main reason is to improve people’s health. But we can be bolder than simply mitigating this problem by trying to reduce particle concentrations. There is an exciting opportunity to go much further, and fundamentally rethink the way cities work.
Paradoxically, air pollution can spur us to transform public health and infrastructure, and change how we design cities in the future.

We currently spend a lot of time focusing on ways to reduce emissions or develop cleaner and more efficient fuels. Lawmakers apply taxes and levies or ban older cars in cities. The car industry is seeing a boom in hybrid and electric vehicles, which are much more environmentally friendly.
Of course, these solutions play an important role in cleaning up our urban air. But we are missing a huge opportunity to take a more holistic approach to the health and well-being of people living in cities.
For example, what if we rethought the purpose of our streets. Are they really just meant for cars to get from A to B? Or can we see them as a place to walk and cycle, where children play and neighbours meet?

Smog surrounds the Shard and St Paul’s Cathedral in London Image: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

 

 

 

By removing cars from cities, you are not just reducing emissions – there are countless other benefits. Researchers in London studied the health impacts of cutting emissions by two different methods. The first scenario used a technology-led policy, while the second promoted walking and cycling instead of driving.
Both scenarios resulted in similar levels of improved air quality. But the method which encouraged people to walk and cycle generated up to 30 times more benefits, due to health improvements from increased physical activity. I have carried out similar research in other cities and reached the same conclusions.

Sadly, current levels of air pollution may be putting people off from enjoying the outdoors and getting regular physical activity. A recent study in London compared the health effects of a walk in Hyde Park against one along Oxford Street. For people over 60, toxic air pollution cancelled out some of the benefits they got from the light physical activity.
And in some of the world’s most polluted cities, such as Delhi and Beijing, cycling for more than an hour every day can do more harm to you than good.

Smog over the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok, Thailand Image: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

 

 

Some cities have announced car-free or car-less visions, including Milan, Copenhagen, Madrid and Paris. Oslo plans to ban all cars from its city centre permanently by 2019. Chengdu in China is designing a new residential area in which people will be able to walk everywhere easily, reducing the need for cars.
Although it was forgotten for a while, we do have some history of planning cities with public health in mind. The urban sanitarians in the mid-1850s called for new planning strategies that included more green space, better ventilation through streets and increased sunlight into homes, to combat the epidemics of the time – cholera and the plague.
These people made their mark on their respective cities through a conscious effort of planning for better health. We’re hoping to make similar strides again. Imperial’s Network of Excellence in Air Quality aims to identify the next big frontiers in air quality research, collaborating across disciplines to deliver new insights. Scientists and researchers from medicine, engineering, business and other disciplines are coming together to share expertise and find solutions to some of the biggest challenges.

My colleagues, Dr Marc Stettler, Dr Laure de Preux and I will be exploring some of these issues with peers and global leaders at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin in China later this year.
Like the urban sanitarians of nearly 200 years ago, we again have the opportunity to design our cities to improve public health. I have no doubt that we will get there, and that we will realize this new vision of what streets and neighbourhoods are for – a place for people to live in, not just cars. Why not start now, and start reaping the benefits

Leading Public Organizations in the MENA

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What is most challenging about leading public organizations in the MENA countries today? And do the challenges differ from those of around the world?

Sameh Wahba in this blog for the World Bank seems to be amazed by that is done, especially by how it is done in Japan.  Of course, this is quite understandable on behalf of anybody native of the MENA region, let alone a well-educated blogger; Japan being in everyone’s eyes a success at all levels, has no equivalence in the Middle East nor in the world for that matter. Leadership that is the good one as professed these days in the world high education institutions has always been an issue in the Middle East since perhaps the advent of civilisation. 

How do city leaders get things done? Learning from mayors in Japan

This article was submitted by Sameh Wahba and co-authors: Megha Mukim , Daniel Levine ; it was submitted on Sun, 02/11/2018.

The picture above is of the competitive Cities Technical Deep Dive participants enjoying a walk through the Minato Mirai 21 area (with the Cosmo Clock in the background), which aims to concentrate high-value added activities and a high quality of life in an integrated urban core in downtown Yokohama. Photo Credit: TDLC

The task of mayors and city leaders is no longer limited to providing efficient urban services to their citizens. Job creation is at the forefront of the economic development challenge globally.
Cities need jobs and opportunities for their citizens and the means to generate tax revenues to Fund projects that meet their populations ‘ growing demand for basic services. The WBG flagship report on competitive Cities Outline how Creating jobs in urban areas – urgently but also at scale – is essential.
In November, 2017, we spent a week with approximately 30 city and national government officials and policymakers from several countries, including Argentina, Chile, Croatia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Philippines, Romania, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda. These leaders represented diverse cities across the world, all with a common objective – How to make their cities and regions more competitive?

Many were dealing with a fragmented institutional landscape, often with overlapping jurisdictions – necessitating clarity of institutional circuits and processes. Some struggled to coordinate economic development strategies with private sector. Lack of adequate sub-national socio-economic data to drive evidence-based policy making compounded issues. City leaders are not looking for a lesson in theory – but evidence of what works and what doesn’t, and practical, implementable examples of how to get things done.

We spent the week as part of a Technical Deep Dive, studying and living the experience of two exceptional Japanese cities-Yokohama and Kobe. These cities have dealt with:

  • Influx population,
  • Industrialized at a rapid pace,
  • Responded to environmental challenges,
  • Reached the technological frontier,
  • Undergone a housing bubble,
  • And even went through a major disaster (the Kobe earthquake) and recovered from it.

WHAT needs to be done?

City leaders use a menu of interventions to increase competitiveness, including institutions and regulations, infrastructure and land, skills and innovation, and enterprise support and finance. Mayors directly influence several of these factors, and they work with regional and national level leaders to shape other levees.

A common theme was that long-term job growth was usually driven by tradable sectors. For instance, Kobe reclaimed land and crowded in investments into a life sciences cluster, to bridge medical research and commercialization. Over fifteen years, the cluster attracted over 500 companies, outperforming that in Singapore – a city of roughly six times the population. Yokohama invested in physical infrastructure, to restructure its economy – from port and heavy-industry led to frontier research and development.

WHO does it?

The extent of city policy mandate and resource availability diffs greatly from their national counterparts, but also across cities. Public policy makers in cities are actors in a complex web. They can systematically increase their ability to influence by finding and creating allies and marshalling information. Yokohama and Kobe responded to their limited policy ‘ wedge ‘ by systematically finding ways to expand it. They recruited allies that could expand their capacity, building powerful coalitions for growth along the way.

These Allies provided:

  • Institutional sources of funding (e.g. tapping national programs);
  • Informal sources of influence (e.g. local industry with sway in national legislature);
  • And sources of new capabilities (e.g. attracting Riken first rather than a private anchor investor).

The Yokohama Case Study, launched at the World Urban Forum On February 11, provides details.

HOW will it be done?
City leaders recognize that an economic development strategy alone is insufficient. Implementation mechanisms and delivery systems are equally (and perhaps more) important to achieving the desired results. Both Japanese cities, Yokohama and Kobe, carefully and patiently built institutional capabilities to design, implement and manage. This included the ability to execute the basic tasks of projects – whether procurement, hiring, asset disposal or similar; The ability to accumulate knowledge – systematically noting what worked, adjusting plans and trying new ideas; and the ability to coordinate – to mobilize stakeholders to clear blocks when they arose in implementation.
The interaction with city leaders coupled with practical exchange across peers has presented World Bank teams with an overwhelmingly important question – what are the pathways to economic success across different types of cities? Given the huge differences in challenges, contexts and capabilities, what will it take to put city leaders in the driving seat of competitiveness? Our future efforts will continue to focus on helping cities better design, manage and implement policies, programs and projects. Understanding learning from Yokohama and Kobe’s experiences will help tackle the challenge.

 

 

Citizen engagement vital for Smart City success: Gartner

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Citizen engagement vital for Smart City success: Gartner, which according to this firm, is becoming one of the most critical drivers to the success of Smart City initiatives.

The picture above is of INC. Arabia’s article published on May 24th, 2016 and titled Why Morocco Might Just Become The “Smartest” Arab Nation.

“The way forward today is a community-driven, bottom-up approach where citizens are an integral part of designing and developing smart cities, and not a top-down policy with city leaders focusing on technology platforms alone,” said Bettina Tratz-Ryan research vice president, Gartner.

For smart citizens the focus is not just about the use of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and smart machines, but the enhancement of services and experience. Therefore, citizen-government dialogue is a key component that will ensure that the right issues are tackled.

To keep pace with the changing needs of citizens, and the development of new business, cities are now striving to become not just smart, but also innovative. Machine learning and chatbots are being used to engage citizens or assets with their environment. Cities are building business and technology policies to assess the opportunities offered by potentially disruptive technologies like AI for elderly care, autonomous driving or delivery bots. In addition, there are emerging use cases for blockchain for transactions and in record keeping.

Tratz-Ryan also noted that changes in citizen mindsets mean that governments must change their mindsets as well. “Government CIOs today need to look at creating innovation strategies to attract new industries and develop digital skills. They need to look at changing their spatial planning, road infrastructure, data and service management.”

Gartner analysts recommend three key factors CIOs in local government should keep in mind: Firstly, they need to understand the problems that directly impact citizens and apply technology to solve these problems. Then, they have to be mindful of the digital divide and pay equal attention to the issues of citizens with fewer IT skills. Incorporating technologies such as natural-language-powered virtual personal assistants is a step in this direction. Lastly, CIOs need to create open data strategies guaranteeing access to all interested parties in a city. Open data portals allow industries and universities — as well as interested citizens — unencumbered access.

“The key to CIO success is building objectives by developing key performance indicators (KPIs) that detect stakeholder priorities and measure success and impact. The UAE, especially Dubai, is a perfect example of how incorporating these guidelines help in the execution of the of the smart city framework,” said Tratz-Ryan.

By 2020, two-third of all smart city execution strategies will incorporate KPIs to visualise the impact of mobility-related urban services.

“Business strategies must clearly focus on the development of a seamless citizen service experience through digital access to information and government services. While preparing for the World Expo 2020, the Dubai government is focusing on creating thought leadership by implementing the most innovative technologies that create new modes of transportation (Hyperloop), energy generation (in conjunction with Masdar), or health and safety experiences,” added Tratz-Ryan.

 

Source: Citizen engagement vital for Smart City success: Gartner

The World Congress of Smart Cities in Barcelona