Reducing the number of people living in slums and the interaction between cities and rural areas is becoming a key challenge for the sustainable development of society.
In Europe, sprawling presents an increasing challenge to maintaining and updating existing infrastructure, to smartening and improving sustainability and inclusiveness of cities.
- The ratio of the world's urban population is expected to increase from 55% in 2018 (some 4.2 billion people) to 68% by 2050, which will mean that the world's urban population will nearly double.
- By 2100, some 85% of the population will live in cities, with urban population increasing from under 1 billion in 1950 to 9 billion by 2100. | Related Megatrends: Inequalities; Security; Climate change and environmental; Health
- In 2018, the most urbanized regions were: Northern America (82%), Latin America and the Caribbean (81%), Europe (74%) and Oceania (68%). While Asia has only about 50% level of urbanization, it is home to 54% of the world's urban population. Africa, with an urbanization level of 43%, at world level is on par with Europe, representing 13% of world's urban population.
- Europe's level of urbanization is expected to increase from today's 74% to about 75% in 2020 and 83.7% in 2050.
- Urban population increases considerably faster in developing regions than in the developed ones. Africa is expected to be the fastest urbanizing region, with its urban population ratio increasing from 43.5% in 2020 to 59% in 2050.
| Related Megatrends: Inequalities; Security; Climate change and environmental degradation; Health
- Most of the 43 megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants projected by 2030 will be in developing regions.
- By 2025, China will have more than 220 cities with populations over 1 million and 8 megacities with over 10 million.
China's 55% urbanisation rate is expected to reach 60%, according to their $6.8 trillion “National New-type Urbanisation Plan (2014-2020)". | Related Megatrends: Geopower; Security; Consumerism
- Globally, built-up areas grow faster than populations. Over the period 1990-2014, in the BRICS, population growth was 30%, while built up area grew at 67%; across the OECD, the ratios were half: 18% for population and 32% for built-up area growth respectively.
| Related Megatrends: Geopower; Demography; Consumerism
- Unless better urban policies, over the next 20 years, the number of city dwellers might reach 5 billion (60% of the world’s population), the majority, in the developing world.
- About 50% of the world’s urban dwellers live in settlements with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants. By 2050, the number of urban dwellers might increase by an additional 416 million in India, by 255 million in China, and 189 million in Nigeria.
- One of the targets of Sustainable Development 11 "Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable" is: "By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums". The 10 targets under this SDG create a framework for concentrating efforts to improve urban life for all.
| Related Megatrends: Inequalities; Security
- Cities are estimated to generate 80% of all economic growth also offering the potential to apply modern technologies and infrastructure which promote better use of scarce resources.
| Related Megatrends: Inequalities; Technology; Security; Health
- By 2025, 66% of world's economic growth (absolute GDP) is expected to be driven by the world’s richest 600 cities.
| Related Megatrends: Inequalities; Geopower
- OECD studies found that for each doubling of population size, the productivity level of a city increases by 2-5%, given better labour distribution, education, entrepreneurship, spread of ideas, etc. | Related Megatrends: Inequalities; Technology; Security
- Cities are beginning to partner with private corporations such as IBM, Cisco, GE, and Siemens to collect, analyse, and use the data for improving decision making.
| Related Megatrends: Geopower; Security; Inequalities;
Climate change and environmental degradation
- Mayors organizations are an emergent global governing power and forums for addressing the most important challenges – e.g. the C40 networks, the World Mayors Council on Climate Change and the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy facilitate dialogue amongst city officials to address climate change and reduce GHG emissions.
| Related Megatrends: Health; Climate change and environmental
- Megalopolises will dominate the economic and cultural landscape of the 21st century.
- In 2016, there were 512 cities with at least 1 million inhabitants globally; 32 are "megacities" with over 10 million inhabitants. By 2030, a projected 662 cities will have at least 1 million residents.
- Most of the 43 megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants projected by 2030 will be in developing regions. Of the future megacities, 2 will be in India; Delhi is projected to become the world's most populous city around 2028, overtaking Tokyo, which has a declining population.
| Related Megatrends: Demography; Geopower; Security;
Inequalities; Health; Climate change and environmental degradation;
- The IoT is increasingly helping improve urban life by promoting and supporting sustainability, security, and generally healthier and happier life styles.
- The estimated number of smart city projects varies, depending on the extent of the elements included. By some estimates, in 2017 there were more than 250 smart city projects in 178 cities worldwide.
- Europe is the top-performing geographical area with 12 cities ranking among the top 25 smart cities ranked by the IESE Cities in Motion Index. It aims to have 300 smart cities by 2020.
- India plans to build some 100 smart cities by 2022, impacting a population of almost 1 billion people.
- Depending on what is considered, smart cities project market is expected to exceed $2 trillion by 2025 with AI forming a key cornerstone of the growth. Europe will have the largest number of smart city project investments globally. By other estimates, the global market for smart city solutions and services is expected to grow from $40.1 billion in 2017 to $97.9 billion in 2026.
| Related Megatrends: Security; Climate change and environmental degradation; l
- In 2016, some 91% of the urban population worldwide were breathing air with particulate matter over the World Health Organization guidelines value (PM 2.5). Over 50% of these were exposed to air pollution levels at least 2.5 times higher than that safety standard. High levels of ambient air pollution was a cause of death of an estimated 4.2 million people in 2016.
- In the EU, some 85% of the urban population is being exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) at levels deemed harmful to health. | Related Megatrends: Health; Climate change and environmental
- Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley might become “unliveable” in a few years. Unsustainable rapid urbanisation caused a decline of 88% in the city’s vegetation between 1973 and 2016, while water bodies declined by 85% between 2000 and 2014. If present trends continue, the built up area in Bangalore is expected to increase from 77% in 2017 to 93% in 2020, with a vegetation cover of a mere 3%. The city's e-waste is estimated at 20,000 tonnes per year. Respiratory and other health problems have increased drastically in the city recently. | Related Megatrends: Security; Health; Climate change and environmental degradation
- Urban areas congestion continues to rise; time losses from traffic congestion are estimated to cost the equivalent of 2% GDP in Europe and 2–5% in Asia. | Related Megatrends: Inequalities; Technology; Security; Health