Nurturing neighbourhoods to sustain quality of life in megacities and large city regions, An interdisciplinary reflection on planning for sustainable and socially just cities, from Santiago, ChileTipo de publicación : Otros
As the world urbanizes amidst often extreme challenges to sustainability and equity, Latin America offers fertile ground for research and exploration. In Chile, rapid urbanization began in the 1950s, when massive migrations brought displaced rural workers to the capital of Santiago, pressuring for their rights through land occupations that inspired similar movements throughout Latin America. Today, Chile has already reached the high levels (90%) of urbanization predicted for the world’s population in coming years. The Metropolitan Region of Santiago concentrates 40% of the countrys population and its resources, measured by GDP. Most political decisions affecting Chileans happen in Santiago, with sprawling urbani-zation consuming some of Chiles most fertile land, generating speculation that it will soon reach from Valparaíso and Viña del Mar on the Pacific coast, through the central valley, up to the foothills of the Cor-dillera de los Andes 100 km to the west, and reaching the city of Rancagua in the south. Twenty years after the military regime (1973-1990), the area still suffers from extremely fragmented, centralized and authoritarian governance, which reinforces and is reinforced by high levels of social exclusion, spatial segregation and discrimination.Recent socio-political developments regarding both citizen movements and efforts to democratize urban governance and the resulting push backs to de-democratize go to the heart of the questions ad-dressed by this handbook. As Metropolitan Santiago has expanded in recent decades, neighbourhood or-ganizations have played a growing role in influencing governance to include heritage, sustainability and equity goals within planning agendas. Based on these initial experiences, most actors in Chile agree that ensuring strong neighbourhood participation improves urban projects, and could be crucial to achieve healthy, happy and sustainable cities. Three key questions remain, however, regarding the role of local, particularly micro or neighbourhood initiatives to addressing sustainability challenges in the megacities and metropolitan regions that are taking shape today: What kind of planning is most likely to reduce risk and increase the potential for more balanced human-social, environmental and economic development? What paths are likely to permit transitions toward more sustainable cities with vibrant neighbourhoods? How do we achieve effective and efficient participatory processes and systems, that bring together the conflicting array of practical, technical and scientific knowledge, to generate trust and avoid frustrating conflicts?This chapter explores these questions using a simple participatory action research approach to build an analysis of historical evidence, present conditions and future goals through iterative deliberations between three academic researchers and two community leaders with extensive experience in grassroots organizing and planning. Challenges to planning procedures, governance and institutions are central to preserving the strengths of micro-scale neighbourhoods even as cities spread and connect into increasingly large metro-politan regions.