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UN-Habitat estimates confirm that the progress made on the slum target has not been enough to counter the demographic expansion in informal settlements in the developing world. In this sense, efforts to reduce the numbers of slum dwellers are neither satisfactory nor adequate. If past trends of urbanization and slum formation continue, the slum population will amount to 1.4 billion in 2015, the target year for most of the MDGs. To reduce the potential number of slum dwellers by half, as is the case of the other MDGs, the lives of at least 667 million less slum dwellers around the world would need to be improved by 2015.
Improving the lives of slum dwellers centres on an inclusive city. An inclusive city provides the opportunities and supportive mechanisms that enable all residents to develop their full potential and gain their fair shares of the ‘urban advantage’. In an inclusive city, residents perceive themselves as important contributors to decision-making, ranging from political issues to the more mundane routines of daily life.
Key strategic approaches can promote an inclusive city and improve the lives of slum dwellers.
Demonstrating and implementing a sustained vision promotes inclusiveness. Cities need a clear vision of their future – a long-term plan that combines creativity, realism and inspiration on top of providing a framework for strategic planning. A vision should also be a commitment made by city authorities and other stakeholders and should always be developed with the participation of the population. A vision turns into a workable plan with defined sources of funding and accounting mechanisms. Implementing it requires effective, strong institutions. Inclusive cities conduct in-depth reviews of their systems, structures and institutional mechanisms to pave the way for genuine change, including improved institutions that are part of a structural and societal transformation.
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