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01.10.2014
Fifty years later, in 1950, the leading ten cities had doubled in size, and Shanghai, Buenos Aires, and Calcutta had joined the list.
The oldest surviving corporations, Stora Enso in Sweden and the Sumitomo Group in Japan, are about 700 and 400 years old, respectively. I suspect that one cause of their durability is that cities are the most constantly changing of organizations. The reversal of opinion about fast-growing citiesa€”from bad news to good newsa€”began with The Challenge of Slums, a 2003 UN-HABITAT report.
In 2007 the United Nations Population Fund gave that yeara€™s report the upbeat title Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth. If cities are concentrators of efficiency and innovation, an article about the scaling paper in Conservation magazine surmised, then, a€?the secret to creating a more environmentally sustainable society is making our cities bigger. In Peter Ackroyda€™s London: The Biography (2000), he quotes William Blakea€”a€?Without Contraries is no progressiona€?a€”and ventures that Blake came to that view from his immersion in London. The common theory of the origin of cities states that they resulted from the invention of agriculture: Surplus food freed people to become specialists. Agriculture, it appears, was an early invention by the dwellers of walled towns to allow their settlements to keep growing, as in Geoffrey Westa€™s formulation. A study in Panama showed what happened when people abandoned slash-and-burn agriculture to move to town: a€?With people gone, secondary forest has regenerated.


Though the squatters join forces for what the UN researchers describe as a€?cultural movements and levels of solidarity unknown in leafy suburbs,a€? they are seldom politically active beyond defending their own community interests.
A depiction of contemporary slum reality even more vivid than Neuwirtha€™s is an autobiographical novel by an escaped Australian prisoner who went into hiding in Mumbaia€™s slums, joined its organized crime world, and fell in love with the city. Social cohesiveness is the crucial factor differentiating a€?slums of hopea€? from a€?slums of despair.a€? This is where CBOs (community-based organizations) and the NGOs (national and global nongovernmental organizations) shine. For the first time in her life she had got rid of her husband, her in-laws, her village and their burdens. Shimu prefers living in Dhaka because a€?it is safer, and here I can earn a living, live and think my own way,a€? she says. The magic ingredient of squatter cities is that they are improved steadily and gradually, increment by increment, by the people living there.
According to urban researchers, squatters are now the predominant builders of cities in the world. A reporter from the Economist who visited Mumbai wrote that a€?Dharavi, which is allegedly Asiaa€™s biggest slum, is vibrantly and triumphantly alive. The screen-printer who provides laundry bags to hotels, the charcoal burner who wheels his cycle up to the copper smelter and delivers sacks of charcoala€¦ , the home-based crA?che to which the managing director delivers her child each morning, the informal builder who adds a security wall around the home of the government minister, all indicate the complex networks of linkages between informal and formal.
In many cities, the roughest slums are pressed right up against the most affluent neighborhoods.


This book was finished before the full effects of the world financial crisis of 2009 could be studied. Corporations are right to pay attention to what is now referred to as the BOPa€”bottom of the pyramid. It doesna€™t matter whether you give people title deeds or secure tenure, people simply need to know they wona€™t be evicted.
For the first time in her life she had got rid of her husband, her in-laws, her village and their burdens.A  A few months after she arrived, Shimu, now able to support her children, mustered the courage to return to her town and file for divorce. That bond back to the village appears to be universal.A  The Challenge of Slums observes that a€?Kenyan urban folk who have lived in downtown Nairobi all of their lives, if asked where they come from, will say from Nyeri or Kiambu or Eldoret, even if they have never been to these places.
Countries that are highly urbanized have higher incomes, more stable economies, stronger institutions. Prahalada€™s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (2005).



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