Speaker Series #25 – Urban Density

Sep 2020

About the Session

The Speakers


Cities on the Frontline Speaker Series

#25 – Urban Density: Does Urban Density Matter in the context of COVID-19? – August 27, 2020


Dr.-Ing. Wiwandari Handayani, Associate Professor, Dept of Urban & Regional Planning, Diponegoro University, Semarang, Indonesia
Jagan Shah, Senior Infrastructure Advisor, DFID-India, and former Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs
Judy Baker, Global Lead and Lead Economist, Urban, DRM, Resilience and Land, The World Bank.

Although urban density is seen as one of the culprits behind the spread of COVID-19, our speakers highlight the differences between well-managed “good density”, seen for example in Singapore and “bad density”, such as the crowded slums in many developing countries.

Infrastructure and social services are some of the benefits of a well-managed density. Informal settlements generally lack these qualities. On top of this, social distancing is extremely difficult in these areas.

Drawing on these elements, Wiwandari Handayani, explained how the pandemic is creating pressure for governments to strengthen services in informal areas and indirectly putting pressure to address informality. Judy Baker reminded us that urban slums are still home to almost a billion people and that measure to address the pandemic make little sense if they can only be applied in the formal part of our cities. Jagan Shah pointed to the opportunities provided by new developments in e-governance, including to reduce impacts of future pandemics.

Watch full session here:

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