Today, almost half of the world’s population lives in cities. But look back just 60 years to the largely rural world of the 1950s, and only 30% of people were urban dwellers. However, the rapid urbanisation seen in recent decades is just the start of a steepening growth curve. By 2030, the proportion of people living in cities will have surged to 60%.
Within this overall growth, the pace of urbanisation will vary widely across the world. Between now and 2030, demographers expect the urban population to grow fastest in those regions where overall population growth is highest and the proportion of city dwellers is currently relatively low. This means sub-Saharan Africa and Asia – two regions at differing stages of the journey to economic development.
Over the coming decade, I believe we’ll see many knock-on effects from advancing urbanisation. Expanding city populations – especially in emerging economies – will demand rising investment in urban infrastructure, putting further strains on vital resources. Urban centres’ growing size and economic power will see a resurgence of the ‘city state’. And in some cases, there may need to be a re-think about the provision of public funding to deal with issues arising out of rapid urbanisation.