Cities : Glossary

There are 23 documents in this section.


  • Environment

    23 May 2002

    A combination of the various physical and biological elements that affect the life of an organism. Although it is common to refer to 'the' environment, there are in fact many environments eg, aquatic or terrestrial, microscopic to global, all capable of change in time and place, but all intimately linked and in combination constituting the whole earth/atmosphere system.

  • Development

    23 May 2002

    A process of economic and social transformation that defies simple definition. Though often viewed as a strictly economic process involving growth and diversification of a country's economy, development is a qualitative concept that entails complex social, cultural, and environmental changes. There are many models of what 'development' should look like and many different standards of what constitutes 'success'.

  • Environmentally-sound

    23 May 2002

    The maintenance of a healthy environment and the protection of life-sustaining ecological processes. It is based on thorough knowledge and requires or will result in products, manufacturing processes, developments, etc. which are in harmony with essential ecological processes and human health.

  • World Commission on Environment and Development

    23 May 2002

    Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1983 to examine international and global environmental problems and to propose strategies for sustainable development. Chaired by Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, the independent commission held meetings and public hearing around the world and submitted a report on its inquiry to the General Assembly in 1987.

  • Sustainable development

    23 May 2002

    Sustainable development has as many definitions as subscribers. In essence, it refers to economic development that meets the needs of all without leaving future generations with fewer natural resources than those we enjoy today. It is widely accepted that achieving sustainable development requires balance between three dimensions of complementary change:

    • Economic (towards sustainable patterns of production and consumption)

    • Ecological (towards maintenance and restoration of healthy ecosystems)

    • Social (towards poverty eradication and sustainable livelihoods)

  • World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)

    23 May 2002

    The World Summit on Sustainable Development takes place from 26 August - 4 September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Governments, UN agencies, and civil society organisations will come together to assess progress since the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio in 1992 (hence the title 'Rio + 10' for the Johannesburg meeting).

    Sustainable development is defined in the report from the Rio meeting as being 'economic progress which meets all of our needs without leaving future generations with fewer resources than those we enjoy'.

  • National conservation strategies

    26 September 2001

    Plans that highlight country-level environmental priorities and opportunities for sustainable management of natural resources, following the example of the World Conservation Strategy published by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in 1980. Though governments may support preparation for the strategies, they are not bound to follow IUCN's recommendations.

  • City

    31 August 2001

    There is no agreed international definition, but a city is generally understood to be a relatively large or important urban centre. In some nations, an urban centre's designation as a city brings a higher political and administrative status. Most large cities are made up of many different local government areas and this often leads to the designation of a metropolitan area encompassing these, and some administrative or political system to promote co-ordination between them.

  • Environmental hazards

    31 August 2001

    Environmental factors which pose a threat to health. Most arise from biological disease-causing agents (pathogens) that cause infectious and parasitic diseases, physical hazards such as houses built on dangerous sites and made of inflammable materials and chemical pollutants, especially in the home and workplace. These are not the same as environmental degradation which implies the depletion or degradation of some resource or eco-system - for instance a depletion of soils, forests, freshwater and fisheries or the emissions of wastes or pollutants with serious local, regional or global ecological consequences.

  • Human settlement

    31 August 2001

    A place or area occupied by settlers. The term is generally used to include all concentrations of human habitation beyond a single isolated shelter from the smallest rural settlements (including villages and hamlets) to the largest cities and metropolitan areas. The term has consciously been used within the United Nations for more than 30 years to ensure that attention is paid to both rural and urban settlements.