UN: Two-thirds of world will live in urban areas by 2050

Pedestrians walk at a scramble crossing at Shibuya shopping district in Tokyo. The world’s urban population has grown so rapidly that while in 1990, there were only ten mega cities, today there are nearly three times as many - 28 worldwide. REUTERS photo

A new United Nations report says that the world population is increasingly urban with more than half living in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050 More than half of the world’s seven billion people live in urban areas, with the top “mega cities” - with more than 10 million inhabitants - being Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, according to a United Nations report.

Today, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050, the U.N.’s World Urbanization Prospects report said. The jump will be driven by a “preference of people to move from rural to urban areas, and the overall positive growth rate of the world’s population, which is projected to continue over the next 35 years,” John Wilmoth, director of the Population Division in the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs said at a news conference on July 10 at the UN.

Indeed, urbanization, combined with overall population growth, will boost the number of people in cities by 2.5 billion over the next three decades, with much of that growth in developing countries, especially in Asia and Africa. India, China and Nigeria will make up 37 percent of the projected growth in the next three decades, with India adding 404 million city residents, China 292 million, and Nigeria 212 million, by 2050.

The key challenge for these countries will be to provide basic services like education, health care, housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy and employment for their growing urban populations. “Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the...

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