Did you know that half of our planet’s people live in cities? That’s 3.5 billion people in urban areas, and by 2030, it’s thought that will increase to 60 percent of the world’s population.
We are still flocking to the “big city” and this trend will only increase in countries where economic growth is unleashing a new wave of movement. Cities remain an alluring gathering place for our dreams.
“Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically,” says the United Nations.
City growth and development brings enormous challenges. How do we create jobs? How do we ensure people can progress economically while also taking care of the environment and precious resources? What about traffic and congestion? Aging infrastructure, water, telecommunications, electricity, gas, roads, trash removal and more are top of mind for mayors and other urban leaders around the world.
Making sure there is affordable and safe housing close to where people work is a key part of planning for greater urbanization. We all dream of a future where cities can “thrive and grow, while improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty.” The United Nations continues, “the future we want includes cities of opportunities, with access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation and more for all.” We agree!
- 95 percent of urban expansion in the next decades will take place in emerging countries.
- 828 million people live in slums today and the number keeps rising.
- The world’s cities occupy just 2 percent of the Earth’s land, but account for 60-80 percent of energy consumption and 75 percent of carbon emissions.
- Rapid urbanization is putting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, animal and plant life, and public health.
- The high density of cities can bring efficiency gains and technological innovation while reducing resource and energy consumption.
Take Action Challenge
It’s World Cities Day on October 31. Check out Urban October and learn about how cities are becoming more efficient, sustainable and livable.
Image of Jakarta courtesy www.habitat3.org