- Countryside in Crisis?
- The Energy Water Food Stress Nexus
- Unsustainable Fishing
- Keeping pace with a digital revolution
- Global health in the 21st Century
- Adapting to an urban future
- Educating for tomorrow
- Digital technology in Africa
- Persistent poverty in Britain
- Can the UK ever be sustainable?
- Plastic pollution in the oceans
- Natural disasters: how to improve?
- Not In My Back Yard
- Digital Divide in the UK?
- Importing goods, exporting drought?
- Britain’s ageing population
- Engineering our climate
- The future shape of Capitalism
- Migration: skills and the job market
- Razing the Rainforest
- London under water
- Concreting the countryside
- Future of low carbon energy
- Africa in the 21st Century
- Tim Brown »
- Panel Discussion and Q&A »
- Who is speaking at this event? »
- What is the Energy Water Food Nexus? »
- John Bird MBE »
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Robert Neuwirth is an American journalist and author. He wrote the acclaimed book Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World, describing his experiences living in squatter communities in Nairobi, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul and Mumbai. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Nation, and Newsday. Robert has recently completed a new book, The Stealth of Nations: The rise of the informal economy, examining the often hidden world of the informal economy around the world. His blog, Squatter City, offers an ongoing look at the phenomenon.
Robert Neuwirth spent two years living in squatter cities on four continents to research his book Shadow Cities. He captures the shantytowns where a billion people live now, and where three billion (a third of humanity) are expected to be living by 2050.
One of the most profound trends of our time is the mass migration of the world's population into urban areas. As of 2005, close to 70 million people were migrating to cities each year, resulting in a billion squatters (one in six people on Earth live as squatters). A troubling trend? Perhaps not, argues author Robert Neuwirth.
Deprived areas around big cities -- call them barrios, favelas, slums or shantytowns -- are super-concentrations of urban poverty, to be sure. Life there is hard: no water, no transport, no sewage. But looking at them from the inside brings a surprising perspective. Living in the squatter cities of Rio, Nairobi, Istanbul and Mumbai, Neuwirth discovered thriving restaurants, markets, health clinics, an unconventional real-estate market, and truly effective forms of self-organization.
His vivid descriptions and frank admiration for the ingenuity and innovation he encountered force us to rethink assumptions about community, poverty and the shape of 21st-century cities. Our challenge, Neuwirth says, isn't to end poverty or control populations, but to engage and empower the residents in these "cities of tomorrow."