UN-Habitat releases World Cities Report 2016, Urbanization and Development: Emerging Futures

The report states that a New Urban Agenda is needed to unlock the transformative power of cities.

Rupali Pruthi
May 19, 2016, 14:05 IST

UNHThe UN-Habitat on 18 May 2016 released the new global flagship report on sustainable urban development titled World Cities Report 2016, Urbanization and Development: Emerging Futures.

The report states that a New Urban Agenda is needed to unlock the transformative power of cities.

Highlights of the World Cities Report 2016
• The top 600 cities, with 1/5th of the world’s population, produce 60 percent of global GDP.
• Since the last UN conference on cities Habitat II in Istanbul in 1996, the center of gravity for megacities has shifted to developing regions.
• In 1995, there were 22 large cities, and 14 megacities globally; by 2015, both categories of cities had doubled with 79 percent of the megacities, that are located in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
• Large South-Asian countries like Bangladesh, India and Pakistan feature massive, expanding urban populations in mega- cities such as Dhaka, Mumbai, Delhi, Karachi and Lahore.
• The fastest growing urban centres are the medium and small cities with less than one million inhabitants, which account for 59 percent of the world’s urban population.
• Over the last 20 years, housing has not been central to national and international development agendas.
• The slum challenge continues to be one of the faces of poverty in cities in developing countries.
• Today the world is more unequal that it was twenty years ago: 75 percent of the world’s cities have higher levels of income inequalities than two decades ago.
• Planning as an ongoing, sustainable, inclusive process has been central to the reinvention of urban planning, yet many countries still rely on outdated conceptions of planning.
• Mega cities and metropolitan regions have benefited more from globalization than secondary cities with more than 80 percent of global GDP being generated in cities.
• Less dense cities brought higher infrastructure costs, worsen mobility and destroyed agricultural land.

Persistent and emerging challenges
• Urban areas around the world are facing greater challenges than they did 20 years ago.
• 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 percent to 49 percent, while global carbon emissions from fossil-fuel burning increased by almost 500 percent.
• Cities account for between 60 and 80 percent of energy consumption, and generate as much as 70 percent of the human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
• The war in Syria has given rise to the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. In 2015, more than 1.5 million forced migrants and refugees arrived in Europe compared to 280000 in 2014.
• The fear of crime and violence continues to be pervasive in cities. New and pervasive risks affecting cities include terrorism, urban warfare, heightened securitization and pandemics.

The New Urban Agenda
• When well-managed, urbanization fosters social and economic advancement and improved quality of life for all.
• A new agenda is required to effectively address the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities offered by urbanization.
• The new urban agenda should promote cities and human settlements that are environmentally sustainable, resilient, socially inclusive, safe and violence-free, economically productive.
• This New Urban Agenda shall be adopted at the upcoming UN conference Habitat III to be held in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016.

India in World Cities Report 2016
• India is projected to add 300 million new urban residents by 2050 and it will need to build climate-friendly cities to address the challenge of accommodating the needs of the growing population.
• India should plan to build 100 smart cities in response to the country's growing population and pressure on urban infrastructure.

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