World Policy Journal: Winter 2010/2011

Megalopolis: The City of the 21st Century

Soon, perhaps as early as the next decade, more people will live in cities than anywhere else–a turning point that poses enormous challenges. World Policy Journalhas turned to exciting thinkers and observers of this unique phenomenon–the emergence of the Megalopolis. Acclaimed designer and planner Bruce Mau provides our scene-setting lead commentary. Didi Pei, the distinguished architect following in his father’s footsteps, details his own vision of the urban environment. Angela Bao from Beijing and Elizabeth Pond, deep in Inner Mongolia, report on two sides of an emerging China. Amanda Ruggeri examines urban treasures from a Roman perspective, while Benjamin Siegel probes the costs of playing host in India and Pelu Awofeso unwraps Nigeria’s insta-cities.

Beyond the city, Rena Effendi takes her camera inside Iran’s youth culture, Damaso Reyes investigates Austria’s oppression of stateless minorities, Piotr Zalewski suggests Turkey as the newest superpower, Amitai Etzioni reveals the flaws of nuclear fuel banks, and Khadija Sharife examines Liberia’s suspiciously lucrative shipping industry.  Finally, in his Coda, World Policy Journal Editor David A. Andelman questions where intelligence is leading us.

This issue of World Policy Journal inaugurates an exciting new approach to our design–clean, elegant, and more accessible.  It also marks the beginning of a new publishing partnership with SAGE Publications, which will handle online and print production, subscriptions, advertising and other aspects of the business side of our magazine. We look forward to continuing to provide the most intelligent commentary and vivid reporting on the world, in all its variety.



Big Question
World Policy Journal asks a panel of experts–sociologists, artists, professors and policy makers–to explore the new look of future cities.

MapRoom charts the infrastructure of the world’s most unconventional urban areas.

Energetic Cities (Paul Sullivan)
Paul Sullivan stresses the critical need for a “green metropolis.” He shares the ways in which cities in developed nations are slashing fossil-fuel dependency while improving the quality of life. Hong Kong and São Paulo are using landfill gas for energy, while Reykjavik is changing its energy systems from fossil fuels to hydropower, geothermal and hydrogen.

Anatomy of a Fareej dissects Abu Dhabi’s new neighborhoods, which encourage sustainability and a “complete community.”



Urbanity, Revised (Bruce Mau)
Designer Bruce Mau embraces the new urban values of Massive Change: to create wealth and break the old urban paradigms in favor of a shared, prosperous and universal future.

Endless Road in China (Angela Bao)
An aging laborer struggles up the side of a mountain each day. His family is the archetype of a rural household trapped by hukou, China’s household registration system, prohibiting country dwellers from settling in the city. Deprived of schools, medical care and a prosperous future, rural migrants strive desperately to bridge the enormous gulf that remains between China’s urban and rural society.

Urbanism on the Steppe (Elizabeth Pond)
Kangbashi has sprung up on the steppes of Inner Mongolia, enriched by an abundance of rare earth metals that power the world’s gadgets. This instant city raises a central question–is China over-indulging in risky development? Or has the country, yet again, battled conventional wisdom and won?

The Tragedy of Line C (Amanda Ruggeri)
The world’s great cities are struggling to maintain a balance between preservation and development. China’s rising populations are destroying 13th century hutongs, while Cairo’s housing shortage endangers the city’s medieval core. Meanwhile, Rome halted work on its Metro after 2,000-year-old ruins were unearthed, and preservationists have been charged with turning Venice into a museum. A solution may come in the form of new multi-national efforts to protect many of the most threatened urban environments.

Playing Host is Hard to Do (Benjamin Siegel)
Like the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games reflect the aspirations of a city and a nation to prove themselves on the international stage. Yet, not all hosts succeed. New Delhi’s recent attempt to host the games cast unwanted but much needed light on dismal state planning and rampant corruption, while leaving its citizens still impoverished and with little government help.

CONVERSATION: The Architect and the City (Didi Pei)
In an interview with WPJ editors, renowned architect Didi Pei sketches his vision of the modern city and explains the architect’s role in shaping it. He discusses urban architecture, drawing on his experiences working in Shanghai, Brunei, Paris and the Middle East. All too many of the world’s greatest cities, especially those growing the most rapidly– particularly in China– have lost track of their ultimate purpose: to create interactions among their people.

Nigeria’s Insta-Cities (Pelu Awofeso)
One of every two Nigerians now lives in a city, and Lagos is set to become the world’s third largest metropolis by 2025. But rapid urbanization has left Nigerian cities without the infrastructure vital to new residents. Less than half of Lagos has access to electricity, while Port Harcourt has been plagued by militant unrest, and the nation’s six cities with a million or more people are set to be joined by a dozen more. Across Africa and much of the developing world, care needs to be taken to handle the new urban arrivals– through managed rather than random growth.



Young in Tehran (Rena Effendi)

Azerbaijani-born photographer Rena Effendi captures vivid scenes from the hidden lives of Iran’s youth–from banned music togay lifestyles. “In a place where so much is forbidden,” Effendi writes, “being a criminal becomes the only way to feel normal.”



Living in the Shadows (Damaso Reyes)
During much of the Cold War, Austria was a safe haven for those piercing the iron curtain. Today, the nation’s anti-immigrant stance has sullied that reputation. Confusing immigration courts and the EU’s Dublin law have wreaked havoc for many asylum seekers in Austria, where immigrant prisoners stage hunger strikes and families are deported on a whim in the name of Austrian nationalism.

A Self-Appointed Superpower (Piotr Zalewski)
At the close of the 20th century, Turkey became a candidate for membership in the European Union. Ten years later, its nose still pressed against the glass, Turkey is changing domestic and foreign policies, but no longer to win friends in Europe. Today, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is defining Turkey as a country that is as much Middle Eastern as European. Through improved economic relations with neighbors once considered enemies, Ankara has raised its stature on the international stage–at the expense of its bid to join the EU.

ESSAY: A Deeply Flawed Fuel Bank (Amitai Etzioni)
The fuel bank–a stockpile of enriched uranium held by a global consortium–may be designed to halt nuclear proliferation. But if its flaws remain uncorrected, the fuel bank may actually propel rather than control the spread of nuclear weapons.

REPORTAGE: Flying a Questionable Flag (Khadija Sharife)
Liberia, “home” to over 500 foreign petroleum tankers, makes this Western African country the second largest maritime nation on earth. But flying Liberia’s flag of convenience provides oil companies with a “get-out-of-jail-free” card to bypass legislation and regulation, while concealing economic activity. International organizations must hold these rogue corporations and nations accountable.



Whither Intelligence? (David A. Andelman)
For decades as a foreign correspondent, World Policy Journal editor David A. Andelman learned first-hand that intelligence officials are all too often ignored by the government, much to the injury of the nation they serve. From a nameless, faceless bureaucrat in a windowless Langley room in the Vietnam era to modern intel in the Afghan war, Andelman digs inside the intelligence community–and the risks run by those who ignore it to their own peril.