Urban centers face disordered sprawl as more people now live in cities

Jun. 25, 2007

MANILA — In 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of world population, 3.3 billion people, will be living in urban areas. By 2030, this is expected to reach almost 5 billion. The population of towns and cities in developing countries is set to double in the space of a generation. Poor people will make up a large part of future urban growth.

As most cities struggle to meet current needs, city planners and local government officials also have to deal with the enormous scale and impact of future growth.

The State of World Population 2007 Report, annual flagship publication of the United Nations Population Fund, looks beyond todays problems. The Report, entitled Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth, calls for proactive action to prepare for future urban growth.

Urbanizationthe increase in the urban share of total populationis inevitable, but it can also be positive. No country in the industrial age has ever achieved significant economic growth without urbanization. Cities concentrate poverty, but they also represent poor peoples best hope of escaping it. Cities create environmental problems, but they can also create solutions. Concentrating population in cities can contribute to long-term sustainability:

The bigger threat may be disordered sprawl. The potential benefits of urbanization far outweigh the disadvantages. The challenge is learning how to exploit its possibilities.

This report looks at the demographic processes underlying urban growth and tries to grasp their policy implications. It examines the specific consequences for poverty reduction and sustainability. It recommends action that cities can take today, to ensure their viability tomorrow.

For the second consecutive year, UNFPA is introducing a youth supplement, Growing Up Urban, a companion to The State of World Population 2007. This supplement features the stories of young women and men growing up in cities of the developing world.

The global launch of the Report will be on June 27 in London. On June 29, the Report will be formally launched in the Philippines at the SGV Hall of the AIM Conference Center in Makati City. Vice President Noli de Castro will deliver the keynote address. To deliver messages are Congressman Rozzano Rufino Biazon, vice-chair of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, United Nations Resident Coordinator Nileema Noble and UNFPA Representative Suneeta Mukherjee.

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