Continued rapid urbanization will be one of the megatrends of the 21st century, fundamentally shaping development challenges and opportunities in many of our partner countries. 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas (2018), a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. This corresponds to an increase of about 2.5 billion people in urban areas by 2050, with close to 90% of this increase taking place in Asia and Africa. Nearly 1 billion people live in informal settlements.
With more than 80% of global GDP generated in cities, urbanization can contribute to sustainable growth if managed well by increasing productivity, allowing innovation and new ideas to emerge. Cities will be key in responding to climate change and transformation to sustainable patterns of consumption and production. Cities consume close to 2/3 of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions and almost half a billion urban residents live in coastal areas, increasing their vulnerability to storm surges and sea level rise.
Sustainable urban development involves planning healthy and safe cities that reduce consumption, waste and harmful impacts on people and environment, but also takes a community-oriented approach that encourages cultural diversities and strengthens social cohesion between people, promoting equal sharing and use of public spaces. But how can we design and develop cities to be resilient to the effects of climate change? How can we craft a holistic approach to urban development that provides for affordable housing and infrastructure, regenerates deprived areas, protects both the natural and cultural heritage and ensures a tolerant and fertile dialogue between its different communities?