UNESCO Social and Human Sciences
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The MOST Phase II website is available at: www.unesco.org/shs/most.



Building a knowledge base for urban management
in the twenty-first century

The MOST project Towards socially sustainable cities: building a knowledge base for Urban Management is co-ordinated by Mario Polèse from Villes et Développement in Montréal, and Richard Stren from the Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto and GUPI (Global Urban Research Institute), together with Diana Lee-Smith of Mazingira Institute, Nairobi, and ARNUM (African Research Network for Urban Management) and Mario Lungo, Universidad Centro Americana in San Salvador, and FLACSO (Facultad Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales). 

The project is sponsored by MOST, the Governments of Canada and Québec, and UTO (United Towns Organisation). 

The central premise of the project may be stated thus:
For the management of a city to be successful, its policies need to be conductive to " social Sustainability ". Social Sustainability for a city is defined as development which is compatible with the harmonious evolution of civil society, fostering an environment conductive to the compatible contribution of culturally and socially diverse groups while at the same time encouraging social integration with improvements in the quality of life of all segments of the population. 

The project builds on an internationally comparative approach comprising a diversity of institutions. Twelve cities considered for study are:

  • starting with Canada: Montréal and Toronto;
  • in the United States: Baltimore and Miami;
  • in Europe: Geneva, Randstad, Lyon and Vienna;
  • in Latin America: Sao Paulo and San Salvador;
  • in Africa: Nairobi and Cape Town. 
A workshop was held in Montréal and Toronto in October 1995. This meeting was attended by 12 teams from the twelve cities to discuss:
  • housing and land;
  • infrastructures and urban services;
  • cultural and social policies;
  • transport;
  • employment, economy and management;
  • governance. 
Each city had its own different specific challenge within the context of social sustainability :
  • in Toronto the high proportion of foreign- born residents;
  • in Sao Paulo and San Salvador or Cape Town harsh social inequalities in very segregated cities;
  • in Baltimore an increased spatial polarization between centres and suburbs. 
For Sao Paulo, San Salvador and Nairobi, the goal of social sustainability is far from attainable. 

The workshop decided to proceed with comparative studies, to construct a network, to broaden the above-mentioned themes linked to environment and gender issues, to collaborate with local social workers and NGOs and policy makers at the municipal level. 

A meeting was held in October 1996 in Geneva with the very active support of the Swiss Government (Center of Geneva). The Swiss Government is also financing the work of a number of the research groups and the Canada council has granted 25.000 dollars to this MOST project. 

MOST Project Co-ordinator:

Geneviève Domenach-Chich
Tel: +33 (0)1 45 68 37 46 
Fax: +33 (0)1 45 68 57 28 
E-mail: g.domenach-chich@unesco.org

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