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DEAN’S LECTURE SERIES 2009
Melbourne School of Design
Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning
The University of Melbourne
Director - Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), Mumbai
Reconciling Poverty, Climate Change and Urbanization in the 21st Century
Tuesday 17 March
Carillo Gantner Theatre
Basement, Sidney Myer Asia Centre
The University of Melbourne
Today as we are about to complete the first decade of the 21st century, we find that the promises made by most of our leaders through the Millennium Development Goals stand to be postponed, glossed over or just forgotten. The process of globalization, which was to answer all problems through its images of freed financial markets providing governance, wealth and the end to poverty are crashing before our eyes. Cities and towns in the global south face the challenge of managing immigration as the increase of populations through internal growth and migration strain and break down their infrastructure.
Since most of the growth in cities is anticipated to be the poor seeking better livelihoods, urban poverty is going to be exacerbated by a long-standing avoidance by cities and governments to address urban poverty. Now the debate on climate change anticipates two further crisis for cities – in which the city itself facing disasters, will find its poor and vulnerable facing the brunt of those disasters, coupled with the potential in migration of those within that region and from other nations coming into cities, and climate-change refugees.
Who will need to address these issues and seek strategies to address them? Can these realities be acknowledged and reconciled? Is there a potential to turn this crisis into a strategy for positive change? Do the urban poor, the migrants, the environmental refugees have a role to play? Will the academia finally begin to develop theories of change to address these challenges? And finally, will the elite in cities and the politicians join this debate and explorations?
My views come from those who deal with this process from below, the communities of the urban poor whose circumstances of poverty produce survival strategies in urban situations where they have remained invisible for decades.
Sheela Patel is the Founder-Director of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC). SPARC is a Non-Governmental Organisation in Mumbai that has been working for the past 20 years supporting community organisations of the urban poor to access and secure housing and infrastructure rights. After achieving her Masters in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, in 1974, she worked at a community centre called the Nagpada Neighbourhood House and then left to set up her own organisation. She has extensive grassroots and international experience, has published widely on a variety of urban development topics and serves on a number of Indian and International Boards. She has also been involved in founding and coordinating a number of national and international organisations such as Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), an organisation that works with women’s collectives in over 600 villages in Maharashtra and is the founder of the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights and the Asian Women and Shelter Network. In 2000, she received the United Nations Habitat Award.
This is a free public lecture but registrations are recommended. To secure your seat for the Sheela Patel lecture please register at www.abp.unimelb.edu.au/sheelapatel
For information about other lectures in the Dean’s Lecture Series 2009 please visit: www.abp.unimelb.edu.au/aboutus/deans-lecture-series/
Upcoming lectures are:
April 28: Winston Shu, Integrated Design Associates, Hong Kong
August 4: Carme Pinós, Studio Carme Pinós, Barcelona
September 8: Vladimir Djurovic, Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture, Broumana, Lebanon
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