NAIROBI, October 25 – A report on urbanisation has sent a red alert over the mass exodus of world populations from rural areas to cities.
The United Nations ‘State of the World’s Cities Report 2008/9: Harmonious Cities’ has revealed that in one year, more than half of humanity will live in urban areas and the major demographic shift is predicted to be in Africa and Asia.
The report, launched in Nairobi b by the Executive Director of UN-Habitat Anna Tibaijuka highlights a worrying trend where each week over three million people were moving to cities in developing countries.
"The result could be disastrous. With over 60 percent of the world’s cities being by the sea climate change and the rise of sea levels will affect cities around the world," the report warns.
Most critically, it also consolidates and analyses data about the contribution of emissions by cities and urban areas to climate change.
The report is intended to act as a curtain raiser for the 4th Session of the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China which takes place from November 3-6. The theme of the forum is ‘Harmonious Urbanization: The challenge of balanced territorial development’.
Dedicated to encouraging harmonious cities and aimed at policymakers, planners, and all those concerned with the welfare of a rapidly urbanising world, the report breaks new ground by taking the Gini coefficient, normally used to measure inequality at the national level, and using it to measure inequality at the city level.
Mrs Tibaijuka notes in her introduction; "From China to Colombia and everywhere in between, national and local governments are making critical choices that promote equity and sustainability in cities."
"These governments recognise that cities are not just part of the problem, they are, and must be, part of the solution," she concludes.
Given the urgency of the situation, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his foreword to the report, states that the data and analysis are ‘intended to improve our understanding of how cities function and what we, as a global community, can do to increase their liveability and unity’.