Streets as Public Spaces and Drivers of Urban Prosperity

Streets as Public Spaces and Drivers of Urban Prosperity

In 2012 UN-Habitat presented to the world the notion of city prosperity, which implies success, wealth, thriving conditions, and wellbeing, as well as opportunity for all. Cities that foster infrastructure development, environmental sustainability, high productivity, quality of life, and equity and social inclusions are considered prosperous cities, Building on the notion of prosperity, UN-Habitat emphasizes that for a city to be prosperous, it must have a generous and well-designed street pattern. In this report, UN-Habitat advocates for a holistic approach to streets as public spaces that embraces the concept of livability and completeness. A good street pattern boosts infrastructure development, enhances environmental sustainability, supports higher productivity, enriches quality of life, and promotes equity and social inclusion.

Key findings

The City Prosperity Index (CPI) is higher than 0.800 (compared to the maximum, 1) among cities that enjoy high street connectivity, good infrastructure development, good environmental sustainability, high productivity and quality of life, and also high levels of equity and social inclusion.

Densification of suburban areas of European, North American and Oceanic cities indicates that re-planning of suburban areas is needed. Findings from this report call for more sustainable urban development, such as promoting mixed land use, supporting more compact development and providing transport options beyond the automobile.

The streets in the suburban areas of cities in the developing world often resemble slum areas, with irregular street patterns with multiple dead-end roads, While it is recognized that in most city cores, insufficient land is allocated to the street (less than 15 per cent), the situation is worse in the suburbs where less than 10 per cent of land is allocated to streets.

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