Publication: Eurasian Cities : New Realities along the Silk Road
Dillinger, William R.
Heroiu, Marcel Ionescu
Kessides, Ioannis N.
Eurasian cities, unique in the global spatial landscape, were part of the world's largest experiment in urban development. The challenges they now face because of their history offer valuable lessons to urban planners and policy makers across the world from places that are still urbanizing to those already urbanized. More than three-quarters of the built environment in Eurasian cities was developed after 1945 in a centralized fashion. Central planners could implement whatever they considered good practice planning solutions, and Eurasia's cities became their drawing boards. The central planners got a lot right easy access to public transportation, district heating networks, almost universal access to water systems, and socially integrated neighborhoods. At the same time, they failed to acknowledge the importance of markets and individual choice in shaping sustainable and congenial places for people to live in. From a spatial point of view, it became clear that many Eurasian cities were developed in places where they should not have been. To populate sparsely inhabited territory, Soviet planners pushed urban development toward the heart of Siberia. Many of the resulting cities had no rural hinterland to rely on for daily food needs and had to depend on subsidized goods and services. Many Eurasian cities face an overdeveloped public service infrastructure that is hard to maintain and upgrade. Facing an economic downturn in the 1990s and lacking experience in decentralized urban management, many local authorities struggled to run these services. Public transport ridership fell in most cities, with more people commuting in private vehicles. Recycling networks disappeared, and soaring consumption overwhelmed solid waste management systems. District heating systems became large energy sieves hard to run and maintain without subsidies. Plaguing water systems are large shares of nonrevenue water, and low tariffs do not ensure the cost recovery needed for upgrades and repairs. This book discusses all five of these issues rethinking, planning, connecting, greening, and financing in more detail. It seeks to analyze the key challenges created by central planning, outline how these challenges were addressed in the transition years, and identify some steps Eurasian cities should take to chart a sustainable development path for themselves. The book also shows how some of the most progressive cities in the region have been tackling these problems and, in doing so, shedding the last vestiges of the socialist economy.
“Coulibaly, Souleymane; Deichmann, Uwe; Dillinger, William R.; Heroiu, Marcel Ionescu; Kessides, Ioannis N.; Kunaka, Charles; Saslavsky, Daniel. 2012. Eurasian Cities : New Realities along the Silk Road. © Washington, DC: World Bank. http://openknowledge.worldbank.org/entities/publication/b0dccb2e-622f-5e69-a687-f4ab36b4bc26 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”