City Life Series - 1. City life

Posted: 29 June 2001

In a new 21-part series on City Life, Television Trust for the Environment (TVE) returns to the theme of globalisation, and the growing debate on ways to tackle social development, social exclusion and inequality. But this time there's a new context: urbanisation.

City Life stories set out to show how different countries, communities and individuals are responding to the challenges of growing urbanisation at the start of the 21st century, and explores new initiatives to tackle urban poverty by involving urban residents in running their own inclusive cities. From the futuristic cities of Asia, via the shack-dwellers in Cape Town and Bombay to the new cities that have sprung up overnight across southern China, the series will explore how globalisation is interacting with urbanisation - and how individuals around the world are working to build urban communities that benefit everyone.

Programme 1. City life

She's 55, a mother of three, a professional psychoanalyst - and used to give advice about sex problems on Brazilian TV. But in her most recent incarnation, Marta Suplicy is the new mayor of Sao Paulo - the world's fourth largest city, with a population of 10 million and growing. On her agenda now: how to rid the city of the sleaze and neglect that became its hallmark in the 1980s and '90s, and bring hope to the millions excluded from the wealth it generates from the global economy.

"My city has lived ten years of abandon, corruption," Marta explains. "and I thought I could help - I could be a fresh new thing there, that could help mainly the people excluded from everything we have in the city."

Globalisation is making the 21st century the century of cities, according to Anna Tibaijuka, new Executive Director of Habitat (the UN Centre for Human Settlements). "The challenge now," she says, "is how to make cities a better place for the majority of the people." Marta agrees. The challenge she faces is how to bring change fast enough to the over 400,000 Paulista families who lack what the city authorities call "even minimally decent housing."

This first programme in the City Life series follows Marta as she visits schools and hospitals, favelas and a shelter for battered women. With comment from Sheela Patel, Saskia Sassens, Peter Marcuse and Ed Glaeser, the programme looks at the uphill struggle facing a 21st century mayor today.

This 30-minute film is part of TVE's Life Series II on City Life. contact TVE's distribution office by clicking here.
TVE, 21 Elizabeth Street, Victoria, LONDON SW1W 9RP. Telephone: +44 20 7901 8855; fax: +44 20 7901 8856.
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All the programmes can be viewed in streaming video on the Life website, where there are also web links, radio links and programme transcripts.