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Why urban policymakers should think about population shrinkage

14 8 7
15.04.2019

THE narrative about population growth, resource depletion, and their contribution to declining sustainability has taken an interesting detour into the smart cities discourse.

Technology, once a slapdash solution for minor personal and urban inconveniences, is now sold as a plug-and-play method for building urban resilience, whether through micro-scale projects like flood monitoring or macro-scale efforts to strengthen global linkages among devices of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Technology is even being touted as a means to achieve softer strategic goals. In global organisations such as the United Nations, smart cities are being proposed as a model to activate a transition not only to sustainability but to deeper social inclusion as well.

SEE ALSO: How to build resilient cities without wrecking the environment

However, technology’s ability to address global systemic problems – macro-level uncertainties threatening the stability of society itself – is limited. The inconveniently wicked, interconnected, and synchronous convergence of global crises strips the technology emperor of his clothes, because it lays bare structural deficiencies that elude technocratic reductionism.

Examining smart cities in the context of population shrinkage presents opportunities to explore some interesting frontiers.

First, the capitalist system is predicated on the notion of perpetual growth. Any challenge to the model or proposal of an alternative – such as actually embracing population shrinkage – is seen as heretical.

Nevertheless, there is some evidence that stagnation or shrinkage has been regarded not merely as an unavoidable fate but as a normative policy goal. Youngstown, Ohio is one such........

© Asian Correspondent