Cities are not only growing in population, but also becoming increasingly diverse and ethnically heterogeneous. Socioeconomic polarization and spatial segregation have become prevailing trends in cities worldwide, with adverse impacts on quality of life and social cohesion. Although urban planners and designers cannot solve the roots of exclusion and inequality per se, they can aid in increasing the accessibility and integration of deprived areas and provide spaces that increase the chances of interaction and the forming of social relations among people from differing ethnic backgrounds. The creation of mixed-use and socially mixed areas – coupled with good access to public transport, housing diversity, and sufficient provision of vibrant public spaces that facilitate inter-ethnic encounters – are promising ways to enhance social cohesion.
In the latest edition of State of the World, the flagship publication of the Worldwatch Institute, experts from around the globe examine the core principles of sustainable urbanism and profile cities that are putting them into practice. Franziska Schreiber and Alexander Carius add their chapter to a panoply of cross-cutting perspectives in the book; from the nitty-gritty of handling waste and developing public transportation to civic participation and navigating dysfunctional government. The result as a whole is a snapshot of cities today and a vision for global urban sustainability tomorrow.