Urban growth to concentrate in just a few countries

Two out of every three people are likely to be living in cities by 2050, according to a new UN report. India, China and Nigeria will account for much of that growth.

Two-thirds of the world’s population expected to be living in cities and other urban centres by 2050, according to a report on urbanization by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). Much of that increase is expected to be concentrated in just a handful of countries.

“Together, India, China and Nigeria will account for 35 per cent of the projected growth in the world’s population between 2018 and 2050,” according to a UN DESA statement. “By 2050, it is projected that India will have added 416 million urban dwellers, China 255 million and Nigeria 189 million.”

Today, the top three urbanized regions are Northern America (with 82 per cent of its population living in urban areas in 2018), Latin America and the Caribbean (81 per cent), and Europe (74 per cent). In contrast, Africa remains mostly rural, with only 43 per cent of its population living in urban areas.

The report also estimates that the world could have 43 megacities – those with more than 10 million inhabitants – by 2030, up from 31 today, most of them in development countries. By 2028, India’s capital New Delhi is projected to become the most populous city on the planet. It currently has 29 million inhabitants, second to Tokyo, the world’s largest megacity with 37 million inhabitants.

This surging increase in urban population underscores a pressing need for more sustainable urban planning and public services, notes the report.

“Many countries will face challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including for housing, transportation, energy systems and other infrastructure; as well as for employment and basic services such as education and health care,” said UN DESA.

The report calls on governments to adopt integrated policies to improve the lives of both urban and rural dwellers, while strengthening the linkages between urban and rural areas by building on their existing economic, social and environmental ties.

Image credit: Manuel Menal via Flickr

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