Two Thousand New, Million-Person Cities by 2050 – We Can Do It!

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Abstract Summary
In 1950 three quarters of a billion people lived in large towns and cities, or 30% of the total world population of over 2.5 billion. By 2009 this had grown to 3.42 billion, just over half of a total population of over 6.8 billion. The United Nations Secretariat currently forecasts that in 2050 6.4 billion, 67% of a total of almost 9.6 billion people will live in urban areas. Just over a third of that growth, around one billion people, is expected to be in China, India and Nigeria, but the remaining two billion will be in the countries around those countries: a massive arc stretching across the world from North Africa through the Middle East, across Asia and into the Pacific. An additional two billion urban residents, in these other countries, over thirty years translates into a need to build a new city for a population of one million people, complete with hospitals, schools, workplaces, recreation and all the rest, at a rate of four a month. Almost 2000 cities, in countries with little urban planning capability! In addition, the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) include goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities "Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, so these new cities should demonstrate a level of planning competence and city management ability that most towns and cities in the world are struggling to achieve. Notwithstanding the scale of the problem, the size and cost of the planning effort is demonstrated to be feasible, provided that action is swift and new technologies are developed and applied to the planning and approvals processes. Of course, taking these plans to construction is a much bigger effort, but the economy of cities is strongly circular, meaning that the initial cash injection generates jobs that pay wages that are spent on rent and goods within the city that generate profits that fund developments that generate jobs, etc. However, this requires good governance, a planning consideration that must also be addressed if the full benefits of planning, designing and building 2000 cities in the Third World are to be enjoyed by the citizens of those cities. Of course, failure is not an option, because “If we don't solve this equation, it is not that people will stop coming to cities. They will come anyhow, but they will live in slums, favelas and informal settlements” (Alejandro Arevena, November 2014), and we know that slums the world over produce crime, refugees and revolution, and then export these problems internationally, one way or another. The world most certainly does not want more refugees or another Syria, so planners must rescue us from that future, before it happens!
Abstract ID :
ISO633
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City Planning Advisor
,
Abu Dhabi Department of Urban Planning & Municipalities

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