Urban areas around the world are becoming not just the dominant form of habitat for humankind, but also the engine-rooms of human and economic development as a whole. Over 50 per cent of the global population now lives in cities and it is expected that by 2050 seventy per cent (70%) of humanity will be urban. Urban population growth is predominantly taking place in cities in developing countries, most notably in Africa and Asia. This growth trend is most pronounced in small to intermediate-sized cities, where infrastructural backlogs are often highest and technical and
financial capacity the lowest.
Regrettably, rather than achieving greater efficiency, cities are forfeiting their potential agglomeration advantages related to concentration and connectivity and are instead losing density. From 1990 to 2000 cities around the world grew spatially faster than their populations; those in the developing world grew 20 per cent faster. During the next two decades the world will more than double the amount of land used for cities. As cities lose density and intensify sprawl they lock themselves into unsustainable land use patterns where jobs and people are far from one
another, transportation costs and congestion are high, infrastructure runs are longer and more costly, segregation of socioeconomic groups and land use types are more pronounced and environmental impacts are greater, climate change concerns ever more exacerbated.
Unplanned and poorly managed urbanization negatively affects people and the environment. Currently there are about 1 billion slum dwellers who suffer economic, social and physical exclusion. Crime affects some 60 per cent of urban residents in developing countries. Piecemeal speculative development is largely responsible for the fragmentation, degradation and destruction of natural habitat and for undermining agricultural land and ecosystem services. Many cities are significant generators of greenhouse gas emissions and waste, and have high and inefficient resource consumption. Increasingly, cities and urban areas are exposed to geological and climate change-induced risks with the poor being the most vulnerable.
NB: Press Cutting Service
This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat