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Global series: Emerging Cities

Cities have been in the spotlight recently, as hundreds of American mayors responded to the US withdrawal from the Paris climate deal by signing onto the international agreement themselves. There’s virtually no precedent for such local engagement with global affairs.

But cities have always been labs of innovation, as well as hotbeds of crime and inequality, architectural stunners, decaying ruins and everything in between. Our series Emerging Cities examines how urban areas around the globe, from Paraguay to Iran, are changing and making change.

People power: how communities can save the environment

The uncovering of Seoul’s Cheonggye stream, which was once covered by a highway, shows the kind of initiatives cities can take. Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

From citizens who sit on the boards of energy companies to neighbourhoods that help fund local wind farms, community action is critical to the environmental movement.

An old German steel region gets a mindful modern makeover

Phoenix Lake, Dortmund’s coolest new quarter, was once an abanonded steel mill surrounded by polluted waterways and brownfields. Frank Vincentz/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) (], via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA, CC BY-SA

A former industrial region in the heart of Germany is slowly reinventing itself for the 21st century, offering urban planning lessons for how to reinvent a rust belt, from Detroit to upstate New York and beyond.

Paraguayan bank heist shows the dark underbelly of free trade

The headquarters of private security firm Prosegur after the spectacular robbery. Francisco Espinosa/Reuters

Ciudad del Este, the capital of Paraguay’s “wild, wild west”, was built to get goods to market without any pesky state intervention. A recent brazen bank heist shows that crime is just the flip side of the free-trade coin.

Is this the end of slum upgrading in Brazil?

Brazil’s favelas are famous, but so are its ambitious efforts to bring roads, water, electricity, and land rights to its informal urban settlements. eflon/flickr, CC BY, CC BY

For decades, Brazil has worked to improve conditions in its poorest neighbourhoods: building roads, drainage, lighting, and safer housing. Will budget cuts end its ambitious slum-upgrading efforts?

Six utopian cities of the future that re-imagine life on Earth

Alan Marshall, Author provided, Author provided

Given that cities may be home to 80% of humanity by the end of the century, they can only be sustainable if eco-friendliness is one of their core features.

Razing modernist buildings, Iran erases a more Western past

A view of Tehran, with its mix of traditional and modern design. Jørn Eriksson/Flick, CC BY-ND, CC BY-ND

Without protection, Iran’s spectacular American- and Italian-designed mid-century structures – legacies of a time when a cosmopolitan Tehran welcomed architects from around the globe – will be reduced to dust, beams and concrete blocks.

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