08 July 2013

World is Ill-Prepared for Rapid Urbanization, Warns UN

More than 6 billion people will live in cities by 2050 and the world is not prepared. Development gains could be lost if steps are not taken today to deal with rapid urbanization, says the UN.

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs World Economic and Social Survey 2013 warns that current trends could increase the number of people living in slums who do not have access to basic needs like sanitation, healthcare and electricity from one billion to three billion.

“Rising inequalities, the food, fuel and financial crises, and the breaching of planetary boundaries have made clear that a mere continuation of current strategies will not suffice to achieve sustainable development after 2015,” say the report authors.

Global population will grow from 7 billion today to 9 billion by 2050. An estimated 80% of urban dwellers will be located in Africa and Asia. More must be done to meet the basic infrastructure and health needs of people living in cities in order to sustain development gains, says the report.

The findings are a part of a closer look at the three drivers of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. Sustainable development was the featured topic at the Rio+20 conference in Brazil last year. The aim of the event was to determine how to ensure that improving people’s lives is done in a way that can lead to continued advancements for countries, individuals and the planet.

Sustainable development expands the conversation to consider the impacts that development, such as people leaving the countryside for cities, will have on the environment.

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