Category Archives: LSE Cities

LSE Cities to present Metropolitan Indicators project at International Seminar in Barcelona on 27 June

26 June 2019

Nuno F. da Cruz, the LSE Cities’ lead of the Metropolitan Indicators project, will present the results of this initiative at an international seminar entitled ‘Metropolitan Policies and Indicators of Social Cohesion’ in Barcelona. The event will take place at CIDOB, Barcelona Centre for International Affairs starting at 9.00am on Thursday, 27 June 2019.

Developed in partnership with Metropolis and the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB), the project established a set of 38 metropolitan indicators – including new and existing metrics – and collected the corresponding data for 58 metropolitan areas around the globe. In this seminar, the project team – including LSE Cities researcher Do Young Oh – will discuss the methodological steps taken to select the indicators and data sources; identify the boundaries for the targeted metropolitan areas; and build this comprehensive dataset. To emphasise the wider implications of the current state of empirical evidence on metropolitan areas, some of the data collected will also be showcased.

Following the event, LSE Cities will publish a working paper that summarises the research and discusses the ‘metropolitan scale’ and Metropolis will launch an online open database featuring all data collected for the Metropolitan Indicators project.

Reflections on the 2019 International Transport Forum Summit

12 June 2019

LSE Cities launches new paper at International Transport Forum Summit in Leipzig – but urban accessibility and bigger challenges of environmental sustainability remain largely absent from the high-level discussions.

By Catarina Heeckt, Policy Fellow at LSE Cities

Last month we formally launched our new paper , ‘National Transport Policy and Cities: Key policy interventions to drive compact and connected urban growth’ at the International Transport Forum Summit in Leipzig, Germany. The paper, written for the Coalition for Urban Transitions, highlights the five priority transport policy interventions that national governments can implement to make cities more accessible – either by leapfrogging car-centric development pathways, or by transitioning towards a more compact and connected future. While the event provided us with a fantastic platform to discuss our research on the key actions national governments should take to foster more low-carbon, compact and connected cities, it also highlighted that accessibility as an indispensable precondition for sustainable urban development has still not arrived in the ‘mainstream’ of national transport policy-making.

Overview of the most important national transport policy instruments and reforms for promoting compact and connected urban growth.

The International Transport Forum (ITF) Summit brings together government ministers from around the world to share policy perspectives with the private sector, the media, heads of international organisations, and thought leaders from civil society and academia. While calling it “the Davos of Transport” may be slightly hyperbolic, the event is nevertheless one of the largest gatherings of transport ministers globally. This year, around forty ministers along with more than 1000 delegates from 70 countries gathered in Leipzig to discuss how better transport connectivity can help integrate regions while enabling the achievement of economic, social, and environmental goals.

Creating dialogue between academia and policy-makers

Catarina Heeckt (Policy Fellow, LSE Cities) speaks about “Better Cities: The Role of National Transport Policy”, hosted by the LSE, at the Open Stage Café taking place during the International Transport Forums 2019 Summit in Leipzig, Germany, on 23 May 2019.

Ahead of the formal launch event, I was invited to discuss the findings of our new paper at the ITF Pre-Summit Research Day during a panel on Sustainable Transport Solutions. The objective of the Pre-Summit Research Day is to create dialogue between researchers and practitioners and ensure that important new findings in academia shape the policy debates taking place at the Summit. Researchers from around the world presented work ranging from the economic viability of electrifying old diesel buses in Latvia to the use of blockchain technology in new Mobility-as-a-Service offerings in Korea.

While the intention of linking research findings into high-level policy dialogues is laudable, I am not sure to what extent the conversations from that first day carried over into the main Summit. There were certainly some interested policy-makers that attended the event but I didn’t hear the more interesting or controversial debates from the pre-Summit Research Day resurface in a meaningful way during the events I attended during the main Summit.  

Connectivity for economic prosperity – but at what cost?

Philipp Rode (Executive Director of LSE Cities) makes a speech on “Better Cities: The Role of National Transport Policy”, hosted by the LSE, at the Open Stage Café during the International Transport Forum 2019 Summit in Leipzig, Germany, on 23 May 2019.

The three days of the official Summit consisted of more than 80 events around a wide range of topics linking to the official theme ‘Transport Connectivity for Regional Integration’. Alongside the public programme of panel discussions and presentations there were also many closed-door ministerial meetings and roundtables. Most of the more high-level public events, where transport ministers and other national officials took to the stage, were unsurprisingly dominated by soundbites and pre-prepared statements, although even these can at times be very telling. During the opening Plenary, for example, China’s Transport Minister Xiaopeng Li concluded that, “if you want to get rich, you need to build roads, and other types of infrastructure first.”

Closed Ministerial meeting of ITF member country ministers on Thursday, 23 May 2019

Throughout the Summit, the idea of connectivity as a key driver of economic prosperity was very much at the forefront of discussions, with wider questions of environmental sustainability often seemingly an afterthought. Even in dedicated sessions on decarbonising the transport sector, which accounts for a staggering 23% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, techno-optimism prevailed. This contrasted starkly with the findings in the new ITF Transport Outlook Report launched at the Summit, which warned that transport CO2 emissions are projected to increase 60% by 2050 and only a dramatic shift to shared mobility will be able to curb this trend in urban areas.

Nevertheless, electrification, fleet optimisation, automation and other ‘tech-fixes’ dominated the conversation, with only occasional acknowledgements that these advances may be too little too late. In this context it was refreshing to hear voices such as Chilean Transport Minister Gloria Hutt Hesse reminding the audience and her fellow panellists that on a planet soon approaching 10 billion people, we have no choice but to reduce our use of space and learn to share – in transport and beyond.

Watch the Launch of “Better Cities: The Role of National Transport Policy” 

Urban mobility still not a clear national priority

Philipp Rode (Executive Director of LSE Cities and Associate Professorial Research Fellow, The London School of Economics and Political Science) at the ITF in Focus session on “Improving access in cities: Findings from Europe and Latin America.”

The other theme that was conspicuously underrepresented in the main programme was a focus on issues around urban mobility, which was only tackled centrally in a handful of sessions. Tellingly, the official Ministerial Declaration published at the end of the Summit, does not explicitly mention urban mobility and in fact the word ‘city’ and ‘urban’ only appear once in the entire document, even though the negative consequences of excessive movement are felt most acutely in urban areas. This aligns with a finding from our paper which shows that of the 189 transport policy interventions reviewed more than half are merely ‘urban-influencing’, meaning they do not specifically consider the unique context and needs of urban areas (e.g. fuel subsidies, national highway codes etc.). It also confirms yet again that despite much talk about the importance of integrated decision-making and a focus on national urban policies, the remit of most transport ministries remains very narrow and may inadvertently lead to policy choices that actually reduce accessibility in cities.

One session that did very concretely tackle the challenges of urban mobility was ‘Improving Access in Cities: findings from Europe and Latin America’ where Philipp Rode, Executive Director of LSE Cities, joined a panel to discuss the importance of establishing accessibility metrics as a central criterion in the decision-making processes around urban transport. 

“Improving access in cities: Findings from Europe and Latin America” panel at the International Transport Forum 2019 Summit.

Urban mobility challenges were also enthusiastically discussed during a range of engaging presentations at the Open Stage Café, which ran alongside the official programme and provided an opportunity for slightly more informal and innovative discussion and presentation formats. It was in this space that Philipp Rode and I formally launched our new paper on Thursday, 23 May.

Watch the panel on Improving access in cities Findings from Europe and Latin America

Confronting an inconvenient truth

What remained untouched throughout the Summit were the increasingly urgent questions around the viability of our prevailing economic model of endless growth; excessive resource consumption on a finite planet; and the glamorising of hypermobility as the ultimate symbol of advanced societies, all of which are fuelling the dramatic increase in freight and passenger transport demand we are witnessing around the world. Perhaps these tough conversations were inevitably going to be a tall order for the ‘Davos of Transport’. Nevertheless, a much stronger acknowledgment that the climate and ecological crisis we are confronting requires a complete rethink of transport policy and a frank acknowledgement of the price we pay for connectivity would have been welcome and timely.

As informative and engaging as the ITF Summit was in many respects, it still feels demoralising to attend an event of this calibre, and discover that the most pressing challenges are routinely sidestepped by global transport leaders. During the opening plenary, Young Tae Kim, Secretary-General of the ITF, stressed that “connecting people with each other is important for prosperity and peace.”  It’s a basic premise that is hard to argue with, and yet such statements ring a bit hollow given the existential threat climate change poses to both of these desirable global goods.


Online #ITF19 Conversations


NEWS ARTICLES

23 May 2019 | Forbes | ‘Davos of Transport’ Convenes In Leipzig, Germany

“During a presentation by LSE Cities, an international center at the London School of Economics and Political Science, researchers Philipp Rode and Catarina Heeckt provided examples of how great disparities in integration  – or access  – can be in major cities. Maps of Atlanta and Berlin showed that less than 10 % of Atlanta’s residents take public transport, walk or cycle compared to more than 70 % of Berlin’s residents.

The findings were from a new paper launched at the summit that aims to provide a foundation for conversations about actions that cities can take to make them more accessible.”

03 June 2019 | Singapore Business Review | What Singapore got right in urban mobility

“So in some ways, it can roll out policies, or national policies that from the beginning are open policies. Most states really need to differentiate between urban policies, and then policies that concern their wider territory,” he [Dr. Philipp Rode] explained. The LSE Cities paper presented by Rode and Heeckt proposes that a smart transport policy plays a vital role to play in laying the foundation for better urban structures, boosting public transport use, making it safe and easy to walk or cycle, and discouraging private car use.

Ricky Burdett joins panel discussion for, Behind the Prize: Jurying the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize

21 May 2019

On 12 June, Ricky Burdett, Director of LSE Cities and Urban Age, will join the event, Behind the Prize: Jurying the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize, a panel discussion on his experience jurying the most recent Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP). MCHAP was founded by Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture to honor architectural excellence in the Americas and the panel will discuss how the judges decide who wins the award. The panel discussion with members of the 2018 MCHAP jury, will take place 12 June, 7:00 p.m at The Great Hall, Cooper Union, New York.


Ricky Burdett to speak at Milano Arch Week May 2019

Ricky Burdett, Director of LSE Cities and Urban Age, will be giving a lecture on ‘Shaping Cities in an Urban Age’ for the Triennale Milano Arch Week from May 21 – 26. Milano Arch Week is a week of lectures, conversations, workshops, and itineraries on the main challenges of contemporary urban transformations. Burdett’s lecture will be on 25 May from 19:30- 20:30 held in Triennale Milano / Palco Giardino, and will be introduced by Lorenza Baroncelli.

El País Semanal reviews LSE Cities’ book, ‘Shaping Cities in an Urban Age’

13 May 2019

On 10 May, Spanish newspaper El País Semanal reviewed LSE Cities’ book ‘Shaping Cities in an Urban Age’, edited by Ricky Burdett and Philipp Rode. Written by Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, the article provides a comprehensive overview of topics discussed in the book such as public space, transport and public health, and the sustainability of cities. Click here for the full article from El País Semanal, in Spanish.

LSE Cities to launch paper at International Transport Forum Summit in Leipzig on 23 May

6 May 2019

Philipp Rode and Catarina Heeckt will launch their new paper ‘National Transport Policy and Cities: Key policy interventions to drive compact and connected urban growth’ at the International Transport Forum (ITF) Summit in Leipzig, Germany. The launch event will take place at the ITF World Stage Café starting at 9:30 on Thursday, 23 May 2019.

The paper is part of LSE Cities’ contribution to the Coalition for Urban Transitions and provides a foundation for national transport policy-makers to begin pragmatic but ambitious conversations about actions they can take to make cities more accessible – either by leapfrogging car-centric development pathways, or by transitioning towards a more compact and connected future. It provides a global review of 189 national transport interventions and then presents results from a survey of experts that narrows down the top five most impactful policy interventions.

Prior to the official launch event, Catarina Heeckt will be presenting the research findings at the ITF Pre-Summit Research Day on Tuesday, 21 May 2019 at 11:40 during a panel discussion on ‘Sustainable Transport Solutions’. 

As part of the ITF Summit, Philipp Rode will also speak on a panel entitled ‘Improving access in cities: Findings from Europe and Latin America’ which will take place at 9:30 on Friday, 24 May 2019.

LSE Cities publishes new paper for NCE Coalition for Urban Transitions

12 April 2019

Thriving cities — where people can easily connect with one another and with jobs, services, and amenities — are essential to economic prosperity. With the world’s urban population expected to double by 2050, cities need to be built and run in ways that maximise access to opportunities without increasing carbon emissions, pollution, and congestion. Smart transport policy has a key part to play in laying the foundations for better urban structures, boosting public transport use, making it safe and easy to walk or cycle, and discouraging private car use.

National Transport Policy and Cities: Key policy interventions to drive compact and connected urban growth provides a foundation for national transport policy-makers to begin pragmatic but ambitious conversations about actions they can take to make cities more accessible  — either by leapfrogging car-centric development pathways, or by transitioning towards a more compact and connected future. There are multiple options to suit every national context — many with broad economic, social and environmental benefits. By seizing these opportunities, countries at all levels of development can reshape urban life for the better for decades to come.

Professor Maciej Kowalewski joins LSE Cities as a Visiting Associate

8 April 2019

Maciej Kowalewski, Professor and Director at the Institute of Sociology, University of Szczecin, Poland, will be at LSE Cities as a visiting Associate from 5-14 April. His research and teaching works are in the domains of urban sociology, but current research focuses on relation between politics and urban imaginary. His work has been published in Space and Polity, Space and Culture (among others), he has co-edited book Transforming Urban Sacred Places in Poland and Germany. In 2018, together with Robert Bartłomiejski, carried out in Rostock (GER) a study with INTA International Urban Development Association experts, concerning the middle size port cities growth. His recent project is related with visual discourse of cities in transition.

Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft hosts second Urban Africa roundtable event

28 March 2019

Ricky Burdett and Philipp Rode speak today at the second Urban Africa: beyond development as usual hosted by LSE Cities Urban Age partner Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft.

The event aims to unpack the urban dimension of German policies on Africa and to reflect more broadly on development practice. Based on the experiences of a first workshop in March 2018 and the Urban Age conference in Addis Ababa in November 2018, the roundtable seeks to deepen the understanding of urban dynamics in sub-Sahara Africa and to reflect on existing frameworks of engagement.

The event will bring together leading international researchers and advisors from the fields of urban and economic development, foreign policy, and development cooperation, as well as regional and urban experts from sub-Sahara Africa.