Cities

In the next 30 years urbanization, combined with overall population growth, will boost the number of inhabitants in cities by 2.5 billion. Cities are the new countries, and super tall buildings could function like mini-cities in the next 25 years.

Even though cities are occupying just 2% of our planet’s terrain, they are responsible for 75% of worlds energy consumption and 80% of CO2 emissions. In 2014, 9 of 10 people who live in cities were breathing air that did not comply with the safety standards, pollution killing more than 5.5 million people prematurely worldwide. Cities are inducing global environmental change, particularly when it comes to production and consumption of energy, water, and goods or waste generation.

But cities are also generating 80% of global GDP, so urbanization can contribute to sustainable growth, if well managed, by increasing productivity, allowing innovation and new ideas to emerge. Larger cities tend to perform disproportionately well. In 2012, large cities made up 33% of the world’s global population but produced more than 55% of all global economic output.

We have to start readdressing the way cities and human settlements are planned, designed, financed, developed, governed and managed. We need smart cities that are flexible, inclusive, safe and sustainable, that can adapt and survive to a 100x increase, or a 10x decrease.

It is therefore critical to build urban resilience to improve human health and well-being, to reduce inequalities, to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls, all that while making an affordable living for citizens independent of migration. Intensive policy coordination, long term planning and investment choices are needed to create cities that “work”, everyone needs to do their part: the governments, the private sector and the civil society; putting the people at the centre.