Thirteen of the planet's 20 fastest growing cities are in areas of the developing world where the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) works. In many of these cities green space is often overwhelmed by growth, migration from the countryside and a lack of planning. Overwhelmed by financial demands, municipalities neglect the problem, assuming that green space is of little value or worse, a financial liability.
It is in this context that the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) began working to prove that, rather than being financial liabilities, green spaces themselves can be catalysts for positive economic, social and cultural change. In Bamako, Cairo and Kabul, AKTC's rehabilitation of existing parks and the creation of new green spaces have made these sites hugely popular among local populations and international visitors. Some are running surpluses and a few even help subsidise urban regeneration projects in adjacent neighbourhoods, restoring hope for the future in historic districts where many people had become resigned to terminal decline.
"...This park has the mission of upholding the country's tradition of encounters and dialogue, while preserving the natural heritage and ecosystems of which man has stewardship." His Highness the Aga Khan speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the National Park of Mali, Bamako, Mali - 22 September 2010.