World cities, home to most people, to add 2.5 billion more by 2050: U.N.

Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:29pm EDT
 
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By Mirjam Donath

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - More than half of the world's seven billion people live in urban areas, with the top "mega cities" - with more than 10 million inhabitants - being Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, according to a United Nations report on Thursday.

That proportion is expected to jump, so that more than six billion people will be city dwellers by 2045, the U.N.'s World Urbanization Prospects report said. link.reuters.com/buj42w

The jump will be driven by a "preference of people to move from rural to urban areas, and the overall positive growth rate of the world's population, which is projected to continue over the next 35 years," John Wilmoth, director of the Population Division in the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs said at a news conference Thursday at the UN.

Indeed, urbanization, combined with overall population growth, will boost the number of people in cities by 2.5 billion over the next three decades, with much of that growth in developing countries, especially in Asia and Africa.

India, China and Nigeria will make up 37 percent of the projected growth in the next three decades, with India adding 404 million city residents, China 292 million, and Nigeria 212 million, by 2050.

The key challenge for these countries will be to provide basic services like education, health care, housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy and employment for their growing urban populations.

"Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century," Wilmoth said.

He said providing such services for a dense urban population was typically cheaper and less environmentally damaging than doing the same for a dispersed, rural population.   Continued...

 
High-rise office buildings are seen during sunset in Tokyo December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai