Urenio Watch Watch: Cities

World Cities Report 2016: Urbanization and Development-Emerging Futures


This report, published by UN Habitat, presents an analysis of urban development of the past twenty years that shows, with compelling evidence, that there are new forms of collaboration and cooperation, planning, governance, finance and learning that can sustain positive change. The report unequivocally demonstrates that the current urbanization model is unsustainable in many respects and it needs to change in order to better respond to the challenges of our time and address issues such as inequality, climate change, informality, insecurity, and the unsustainable forms of urban expansion.

Urban areas around the world are facing greater challenges than they did 20 years ago when Habitat II Conference took place. The persistent urban issues include the growing number of urban residents living in informal settlements and the challenge of providing urban services. The emerging urban issues include climate change; exclusion and rising inequality; rising insecurity; and upsurge in international migration. Between 1950 and 2005, the level of urbanisation increased from 29 per cent to 49 per cent, while global carbon emissions from fossil-fuel burning increased by almost 500 per cent. This growth is obviously unsustainable.

Emerging Urban Challenges due to increased urban population.

Quick Facts

Chapter 1 – From Habitat II to Habitat III: Twenty Years of Urban Development

  1. Urban areas around the world are facing enormous challenges and changes than they did 20 years ago.
  2. Cities are operating in economic, social, and cultural ecologies that are radically different from the outmoded urban model of the 20th century.
  3. Persistent urban issues over the last 20 years include urban growth, changes in family patterns, growing number of urban residents living in slums and informal settlements, and the challenge of providing urban services.
  4. Connected to these persistent urban issues are newer trends in the urban governance and finance: emerging urban issues include climate change, exclusion and rising inequality, rising insecurity and upsurge in international migration

Chapter 2 – Urbanization as a Transformative Force

  1. Over the last two decades, cities have emerged as the world’ s economic platforms for production, innovation and trade.
  2. Urban areas offer significant opportunities for both formal and informal employment, generating a sizeable share of new private sector jobs.
  3. Urbanization has helped millions escape poverty through increased productivity, employment opportunities, improved quality of life and large-scale investment in infrastructure and services.
  4. The transformative power of urbanization has in part, been facilitated by the rapid deployment of Information and Communications Technology.

Chapter 3 – The Fate of Housing

  1. Over the last 20 years, housing has not been central to national and international development agendas.
  2. The housing policies put in place through the enabling approach have failed to promote adequate and affordable housing.
  3. Most involvement by governments has focused on helping the middle class to achieve home-ownership in a formal sector that only they can afford.
  4. The slum challenge continues to be one of the faces of poverty in cities in developing countries. The proportion of slum dwellers in urban areas across all developing regions has reduced since 1990, but the numbers have increased gradually.
Percentage of urban population living in slums (1990-2014).

Chapter 4 – The Widening Urban Divide

  1. Today the world is more unequal that it was twenty years ago: 75 per cent of the world’ s cities have higher levels of income inequalities than two decades ago.
  2. Opportunities across diverse individual abilities and cultural backgrounds that historically characterize urban dynamics have stalled in many regions of the world.
  3. Too many cities today fail to make sustainable space for all, not just physically, but also in the civic, socioeconomic and cultural realms.
  4. The spatial concentration of low-income unskilled workers in segregated residential quarters acts as a poverty trap with severe job restrictions, high rates of gender disparities, deteriorated living conditions, social exclusion and marginalization and high incidence of crime.

Chapter 5 – “Just’ Environmental Sustainabilities

  1. By 2030, global demand for energy and water is expected to grow by 40 and 50 per cent respectively.
  2. Solid waste management dominates municipal annual budgets in low- and middle-income countries, with shares of 30 to 50 per cent
  3. In urban areas, climate change impacts like heat waves, heavy precipitations and droughts can compound one another, making disaster risk management more complex.
  4. Faced with extreme events, cities increasingly understand that novel ways are called for to build resilience, in the process contributing to a more equitable environment.
  5. Although developed countries provide those less developed with financial support for climate change mitigation, it falls short if the on-going rise in global temperatures is to be contained.

Chapter 6 – Rules of the Game: Urban Governance and Legislation

  1. Although most countries have embarked on decentralization, the results are generally falling short of the ambitions set out at Habitat II.
  2. Inefficient or impracticable legislative reforms reflect the dominance of ‘˜universal’ technical concerns and replication of foreign ‘˜best practice’ that disregard local circumstances.
  3. Planning regulations in developing and transition countries are often too detailed, and inflexible, making compliance so challenging that people tend to bypass them altogether.
  4. Genuine accountability and administrative capacity to implement public policies based on accurate information about local conditions are essential for decentralization to contribute to economic development.

Chapter 7 – A City that Plans: Reinventing Urban Planning

  1. Today, many cities in the world still rely on outdated modes of planning notwithstanding that planning is central to achieving sustainable urban development.
  2. Cities across the world are sprawling, and as such, densities are dramatically declining. In developing countries, a one per cent decline in densities per year between 2000 and 2050 would quadruple the urban land area.
  3. Planning frameworks in most cities are not gender-sensitive; consequently, women are often left outside of the planning process and decisions.
  4. Planning capacity is grossly inadequate in much of the developing world. In the UK, there are 38 planners per 100,000 population, while in Nigeria and India the figure is 1.44 and 0.23 respectively.

Chapter 8 – The Changing Dynamics of Urban Economies

  1. Megacities and metropolitan regions have benefited more from globalization than secondary cities.
  2. Inadequate urban infrastructure and services hamper economic growth and activities that depend on the optimal allocation of resources.
  3. The benefits of agglomeration tend to outweigh the drawbacks, providing the resources needed for proper management of any diseconomies.
  4. Formal employment has not grown in tandem with the rapid urbanization of cities, thus exacerbating urban social and economic inequality.

Chapter 9 – Principles For a New Urban Agenda

  1. The emergence of new urban areas and urban extensions in anticipation of demographic growth will by itself cause more emissions that than the world has generated in the last century.
  2. The loss of density in urban areas over the last two decades demonstrates that demographic and spatial expansion go hand in hand. Less dense cities bring higher infrastructure costs, worsen mobility, and destroy agricultural land.
  3. The dynamics of cities’ emerging futures will result in new urban forms and new patterns of well-being for people, new patterns of behaviour and resource use, and new opportunities and risks.
  4. Despite their increasing economic and demographic significance in both rich and poor countries, the role of cities is neither widely understood nor fully recognized in global official and public debates.

Chapter 10 – The New Urban Agenda

The diagnosis of cities with respect to processes of globalization and national development, and the analysis of the most important transformations since Habitat II provide the basis to define some of the key elements of the New Urban Agenda. This will be vital to success in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.