Inclusive Cities

Rapid urbanization and population growth will amplify global inequities if development initiatives are not inclusive of the poor and vulnerable. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) developed Strategy 2020, a long-term framework, 2008-2020, committed to inclusive development and livable cities. In Asia, one-third of the population resides in slums (ADB). UN Habitat defines slums as as:

“a group of individuals living under the same roof who lack one or more (in some cities, two or more) of the following conditions: security of tenure, structural quality and durability of dwellings, access to safe water, access to sanitation facilities, or sufficient living area.” (ESCAP, 2008)



South Asian Slum

The conditions that define a slum coincide with human rights violations, such as the human right to water and security. On the other hand, Asia, with the People’s Republic of China and India, lifted 125 million people out of slum conditions. However, rapid urbanization and population growth have contributed to an increase of the worlds slums. Addressing the needs and challenges of the poor requires direct interventions within slums. This requires greater inclusion of the poor in city planning and development initiatives. Amartya Sen asserts that the removal of poverty, poor economic opportunities, and systemic social deprivation is fundamental for development. Sen further determines that income cannot be the sole measurement of capability deprivation, and handicaps, such as age or illness, can further inhibit one’s ability to translate income into capabilities. The capability lens should be used when implementing programs in creating more inclusive and livable cities.


UN-HABITAT. 2010. State of the World’s Cities: Bridging the Urban Divide 2010/11. UK–USA: Earthscan. p. x.

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). 2008. Statistical Year Book for Asia and the Pacific