Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Cities in crisis

Eric Berg
Erik Berg
Erik Berg worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs / NORAD from 1978 to 2013. He now heads Habitat Norway.
RECONSTRUCTION / This appendix gives the war's destruction of cities and towns in Ukraine and the need for reconstruction the most attention.


This edition of the ORIENTERING is about the world becoming a world of crises. They are simultaneous, connected and mutually reinforcing. And meet in cities and towns where 80 percent of the world's population lives. The UN climate organization describes the crises as a cascade. Others compare this to the damaging effects of atomic and hydrogen bombs. With crises comes rebellion. The article authors write, among other things, about increasing 'food riots' in the big cities – or about indigenous women's rebellion against land grabbing in northern Argentina under the auspices of a dominant patriarchy.

Norwegian politicians and representatives of the World Bank, the UN settlement programme, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Ukrainian civil society reflect in a survey on the challenges of humanitarian aid. The conclusion, like NY The guiding principle of TID#'s appendix is ​​that people must own their development and that resources should be mobilized from the bottom up.

Despite heat waves, there are the destruction of cities and towns in the war Ukraine and the need for reconstruction to which we give the greatest attention. The war also has consequences for food security and safety poor and hungry around the world. The current situation makes it clear that at the urban micro level, people's food security can be improved through increased own production and local sales. According to a Swedish professor, urban food environments, especially the marketplace, have great potential as an arena and agent for improved food safety.


In the discussion of reconstruction, space has been given to young, competent Ukrainian researchers. They all point to the fact that the public sector needs reforms. New transparent decision-making structures and property relationships must allow for broad ownership and participation from below. For the donor countries, a strategic question becomes how far one can go in strengthening the public sector without demands for reforms. Which comes first: basic reforms or administrative capabilities?

Several articles show how corruption affects planning and development. Developers have networks into the municipal administrations. But preparations for EU membership and Volodymyr Zelenskyi's success with 'de-oligarchisation' could open the way for governance reforms. Financethe tycoons' grip on power has weakened. And Zelensky holds the key to cooperation with Western interests in the preparations for EU membership. But will it be a neo-liberal elite collaboration?

With Ukraine's almost 15 million refugees and internally displaced people, an acute housing problem has arisen. Reforms are also necessary in the housing sector, with 95 percent private ownership. The appendix presents several 'new city' and housing models, particularly from Africa and Asia; fantasy cities such as NEOM/The Line in Saudi Arabia; remote sleeping towns like in Mexico with hundreds of thousands of large scale; prefabricated standard housing; as well as China's ecocities. But few of the models meet sustainability
the criteria.

Far more relevant than tech and eco-cities financed by global capital are the models presented housing development in European cities. We have heard the conclusion before: Social sustainability challenges must be given greater attention. Though sustainability and 'resilience'? The terms are outdated and must be given new content, claims a former head of research at FN Habitat. The goals are also in conflict with each other, as the article on the pandemic's consequences for urban development shows. Health or emission considerations? Sbrawl or density?

Humanitarian aid

The billions go to humanitarian aid aid in Ukraine. So does the caravan of uncoordinated, voluntary organisations. After 18 months of war, it can be stated that the UN and the multilateral system not only lack competence and capacity. The absence of coordination is more evident. Three actors are competing for the role of leading donor coordinator: the UN, the World Bank and the EU. Ukraine has so far not shown much ability as a receiver coordinator. An overall development plan is expected by Christmas.

The fact that Norway has almost unilaterally channeled money through multilateral organizations is a problem.

At Norway almost unilaterally channeling money through multilateral organizations is a problem. The system has long been in crisis: financial, organizational, administrative and ethical. Urban development architecture is particularly affected because subsidies from member countries such as Norway, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Canada and the USA have been cut in the last decade. The fact that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) announced 50 new positions for Ukraine in May reflects the situation. The most crucial thing for this country will be to stop the brain drain and invest in its own resources.

The Ukraine Defense Contact Group – 31 NATO member states and 23 like-minded countries – coordinates , literary aid to Ukraine with the United States in the driver's seat. As in previous land conflicts, we see an imbalance between military and civilian effort. Social and political considerations are pushed aside and become an afterthought to the military. The question now is: What conditions will the military-industrial complexes on both sides set for development – at the same time as the time pressure increases. In 2024, presidents will be elected in both Russia (March) and the United States (November).


All the article authors in MODERN TIMES' supplement are part of Habitat Norway's global urban network. Some are winners of the association's master's scholarship (2022/23).
They show that student research is also an important source of new knowledge.

- self-advertisement -

Recent Comments:

Siste artikler

The human planet

ESSAY: What actually lies in the term 'anthropocene' as the term for the era we now find ourselves in? The Anthropocene refers to the many ways in which we humans have transformed the world and recreated it in our image. But there has been a discussion between biologists, anthropologists, geologists and other disciplines about what the term actually entails.

Desire, according to Lacan, is impossible to grasp

PSYCHOLOGY: Blaise Pascal was a contradictory figure: He was one of the most important mathematicians and scientists of all time, but at the same time a rather strict and dogmatic Catholic. By dogmatic is mainly meant that he emphasized a clear distinction between faith and knowledge. And ask yourself: Is there a difference between 'idiocy's truth' and 'truth's idiocy'?

The NATO resistance, a sprout for SF and Orientering

LABOR PARTY: The leading force in the labor movement manipulated Norway into a military, political and economic marriage with the Western capitalist bloc NATO. What methods did the leadership of the Labor Party use to gain a majority, and how was the first opposition organized? Sigurd Evensmo was culture editor at Arbeiderbladet when the first NATO advances were reported. When the party enrolled Norway in the alliance in 1949, he left the editor's chair and resigned from the Labor Party.

The private is political

activism: One of the main goals of the Iranian clergy, the politicians and the people who support the clergy is to keep women and everything related to them out of the public sphere. But Nobel Prize nominee Masih Alinejad is giving voice to Iran's oppressed women through social and global media. Honesty, without pretensions, is an important part of Alinejad's life and writing.

Progress in dark times

FUTURE: With crises on all sides, it has become difficult to claim that the world is moving forward progressively. In her new book Fortschritt und Regression, Rahel Jaeggi will nevertheless stick to the idea of ​​progress. Society does not aim at inherent goals – they primarily solve problems, she claims.

A renewal of the critique of ideology

ALIENATION: This little book by Rahel Jaeggi is stimulating and useful – at a time when ideology criticism and the hermeneutics of suspicion have come under pressure, among other things from people who cultivate 'presence' and the everyday. And what if our actions and institutions are emptied of meaning and go on autopilot – will we be perceived as alienated?

Once upon a time

GAZA: Snapshots from a Gaza that is gone forever. Once upon a time, everyone passed through Gaza. And to all it was the "Athens of Asia," because it was a center of philosophy. Gaza was conquered, and was Ottoman from 1516, British from 1917, Egyptian from 1948 – and finally Israeli from 1967. In the old Gaza you saw girls in miniskirts, girls with whiskey and cigarettes, girls dancing, and girls painting at the art academy . And the Ottoman teahouse Beit Sitti was a haunt for intellectuals, musicians and artists. There was also a rock band and a yoga centre, and pizzeria Italiano and granita... But today?

The biopolitical foundations of modern society

PHILOSOPHY: An immune body is understood as protected against outside invaders. But as Esposito has touched on, biological immunity has also had political and military historical significance.

I was completely out of the world

Essay: The author Hanne Ramsdal tells here what it means to be put out of action – and come back again. A concussion leads, among other things, to the brain not being able to dampen impressions and emotions.

Silently disciplining research

PRIORITIES: Many who question the legitimacy of the US wars seem to be pressured by research and media institutions. An example here is the Institute for Peace Research (PRIO), which has had researchers who have historically been critical of any war of aggression – who have hardly belonged to the close friends of nuclear weapons.

Is Spain a terrorist state?

SPAIN: The country receives sharp international criticism for the police and the Civil Guard's extensive use of torture, which is never prosecuted. Regime rebels are imprisoned for trifles. European accusations and objections are ignored.

Is there any reason to rejoice over the coronary vaccine?

COVID-19: There is no real skepticism from the public sector about the coronary vaccine – vaccination is recommended, and the people are positive about the vaccine. But is the embrace of the vaccine based on an informed decision or a blind hope for a normal everyday life?

The military commanders wanted to annihilate the Soviet Union and China, but Kennedy stood in the way

Military: We focus on American Strategic Military Thinking (SAC) from 1950 to the present. Will the economic war be supplemented by a biological war?


Bjørnboe: In this essay, Jens Bjørneboe's eldest daughter reflects on a lesser – known psychological side of her father.

Arrested and put on smooth cell for Y block

Y-Block: Five protesters were led away yesterday, including Ellen de Vibe, former director of the Oslo Planning and Building Agency. At the same time, the Y interior ended up in containers.

A forgiven, refined and anointed basket boy

Pliers: The financial industry takes control of the Norwegian public.

Michael Moore's new film: Critical to alternative energy

EnvironmentFor many, green energy solutions are just a new way to make money, says director Jeff Gibbs.

The pandemic will create a new world order

Mike Davis: According to activist and historian Mike Davis, wild reservoirs, like bats, contain up to 400 types of coronavirus that are just waiting to spread to other animals and humans.

The shaman and the Norwegian engineer

cohesion: The expectation of a paradise free of modern progress became the opposite, but most of all, Newtopia is about two very different men who support and help each other when life is at its most brutal.

Skinless exposure

Anorexia: shameless uses Lene Marie Fossen's own tortured body as a canvas for grief, pain and longing in her series of self portraits – relevant both in the documentary self Portrait and in the exhibition Gatekeeper.