The World City Day provides an opportunity to stimulate and strengthen the interest of the global community in world urbanization and promote international cooperation in addressing the challenges of urbanization and contribute to sustainable urban development around the world. The Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development (CHSD), University of Lagos, brought together experts from different backgrounds to share their thoughts and point the way forward towards a sustainable urban futures.
Presenting under the title, Financing Sustainable Urban Futures, the Lead Speaker, Mr. Femi Adewale, made the case for sustainable urban that will serve the majority of urban dwellers rather than the interests of a few people. He argued that sustainable urban futures should ensure good quality of life and revolve around the issues of affordable housing, affordable power and affordable transportation. The speaker pointed out the huge infrastructural funding gap in Nigeria, and suggested the adoption of cooperatives and municipal bond to augment government’s efforts in financing urban infrastructure.
On her part, Mrs. Tosin Ajose, whose presentation was on Sustainable Financing, highlighted the importance of the environment, social and governance (ESG) strategies as benchmark for assessing performance towards sustainable urban futures. The notion of the ESG centres on the need for humans, especially those in leadership position (public and private), to be conscious of the impact of their actions on our environment and existence. She emphasised the need for green buildings and noted that “the world is experiencing a capital transition which means givers of capital and resources are placing more emphasis on the ESG corporate strategies”. The locus of her argument is for humans to recognise the significance of the synthesis of social, economic, political and ecological values in setting normative vision of sustainable urban. Furthermore, Mr. Innocent Unah, speaking on infrastructural financing gap, highlighted the criticality of infrastructure in economic development, but lamented that a huge gap exists in infrastructural financing in Nigeria. He faulted the traditional reliance on government for infrastructure funding, and suggested the sufficient involvement of the private sector and bond financing as veritable alternatives.
The last speaker, Mr. Ayodeji Abdulrauf, focused on transformability: fostering a community where ideas translate into change. He emphasised the importance of skills and the ability to manage complex change, and argued that the combination of vision, skills, incentives, resources and action plan will ultimately lead to change. He was reiterative of the need for new skills, the understanding of the global system and the capacity to think creatively as imperatives for managing complex change and ensuring sustainable urban futures. According to him, people should start learning about their environment, and the government must take feedback from those affected by its activities. He concluded by pushing for a reduction of emphasis on top-down approach in managing urban environment.