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The Founex Report - Population Growth


2.20. The major cities of the developing world experienced a fourfold increase in their populations between 1920 and 1960. Today, in many developing countries, the influx of population is straining the existing capacity of cities. Their failure is symptomatic of imbalance in the development process, which could produce total breakdown in some instances in the coming decade. Each city has its own carrying capacity, which changes over time. This depends on the level and combination of population, economic and human resources, and infrastructure, which are in turn in constant evolution. But once that carrying capacity is exceeded, degradation proceeds very quickly. There is, however, a high possibility of reversibility in this trend, which is not the case with natural systems. Governments actions can reverse the city's deterioration, if sufficient resources can be mobilized.

2.21. The urban renewal projects in the industrialized countries are one line of attack. Often, however, such projects merely displace the slum population to new slums while more well-to-do people move into the renewed areas. Another line of attack is urban dispersal, contingent upon planned allocation of new growth poles in conjunction with newly established industries and new urban settlements. Such planning is already under way in many developing countries. Less capital-intensive renewal schemes, especially ones drawing upon, abundant labour, should be accorded a very high priority. Solid waste collection could also be resolved through mobilizing popular participation. In implementing municipal sewerage systems, methods emphasizing the use of labour could be selected. Rather than relying on large inputs of technology or capital, multiple aerated lagoons which are stocked with fish, or spray irrigation to enhance soil conditioning, could be used.

2.22. It is widely recognized that deviant social behaviour emerges from a loss of community and social organization. Many developing societies display a high degree of social organization and a considerable sense of community, even in urban settings, as a result of the transplantation of traditional social structures in the process of rural-urban interaction. Where traditional social systems - with broad citizen participation - are conducive to integration as well as change, urban planning should make room for such traditional patterns.

Chapter Three: Some Considerations for Environmental Policy Formulation

3.1. We discussed in the last chapter some of the major environmental issues which may arise in the process of development. We turn now to a number of considerations which are relevant in formulating environmental policies in the developing countries. In describing these, we wish to make it quite clear that no general guidelines or specific formulas can be prescribed at this uncertain stage of our knowledge regarding the interaction of environmental and developmental policies. Each country must find its own solutions in the light of its own problems and within the framework of its own political, social and cultural values. The formulation of environmental goals, as indeed the formulation of economic and social policies in general, falls entirely and exclusively within the sovereign competence of the developing countries.

3.2. It is important that environmental policies are integrated with development planning and regarded as a part of the overall framework of economic and social planning. As we have stressed so often before, environmental concern is only another dimension of the problem of development in the developing countries and cannot be viewed separately from their development effort. The objective should be to regard environmental improvement as one of the multiple goals in a development plan. The developing countries have certain inherent advantages in integrating environmental and developmental policies. Most of them are already committed to planning so that imposition or acceptance of social controls is nothing new for them. They are also making a fresh start in many fields and can anticipate the environmental effects and provide for them in their current planning.