Parallel to urbanization, Asia is undergoing rapid motorization. Asia is now home to around half a billion vehicles. It has been estimated that by 2035, both the vehicle population and motorization index will at least double in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, China and India from current levels (2012). In many countries, vehicle growth rates are higher than gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates.
This publication (in the form of a Strategy Paper) highlights the global problem of slums and advocates for using streets as tools for urban transformation. A street-led approach to citywide slum upgrading is promoted which advocates for a shift from piecemeal project based to programme scale upgrading. This publication draws from many slum upgrading experiences worldwide and encourages a relatively easy to implement approach. It views slums as integral parts of a city system which are spatially segregated and disconnected due to an absence of streets and open spaces.
The Publication "Streets as Public Spaces and Drivers of Urban Prosperity" was launched by the UN-Habitat's Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos, on 12 November 2013 at the UN-Habitat Headquarters, Nairobi.
A key finding of this report is "the expansion of cities has been accompanied by changes in land use, both in terms of form as well as structure. Streets, as public spaces, have lost their importance in terms of their share of land, as well as their prominent role in shaping the culture and history of cities."
The strategy brought forward by Claudio Acioly (UN-Habitat) uses streets as the natural conduits that connect slums spatially and physically with the city and treats streets not only as a physical entity for mobility and accessibility -- through which water and sewerage pipes, power lines, and drainage systems are laid – but also as the common good and the public domain where social, cultural and economic activities are articulated, reinforced and facilitated.
Successful urban places are based predominately on streets and the connected street life. Streets serve as democratic, open public space and as platforms for economic and social development. Therefore, streets play a fundamental role for the public life in cities, and particularly in slums where open space is scarce.