HABITAT – State of the World’s Cities 2008/2009: Harmonious Cities
Half of humanity is now living in cities, but this dramatic transition is far from over, according to the new UN-Habitat report “State of the World’s Cities 2008/9: Harmonious Cities”, which finds that urbanization levels globally will rise dramatically in the next 40 years to reach 70 per cent by 2050.
Anna Tibaijuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and Eduardo Lopez Moreno, Director of UN-Habitat’s City Monitoring Branch and principal author of the report, launched the report at a Headquarters press conference in New York today.
Ms. Tibaijuka cited the report as stating that, although more than 70 per cent of the populations of Europe, North America and Latin America were already urban, Asia and Africa, which were predominantly rural, with 41 per cent and 39 per cent of their populations, respectively, living in urban areas, were in for a major demographic shift.
By the middle of the twenty-first century, the total urban population of the developing world would more than double, increasing from 2.3 billion in 2005 to 5.3 billion in 2050. In the last two decades alone, the urban population of the developing world had grown by an average of 3 million people per week. She said that, given such an enormous demographic shift and transformation taking place so rapidly, the trend was sometimes overwhelming the available resources to address the situation. Further, one out of every three people living in the cities of the developing world lived in slum and squatter settlements.
A slum was defined by the report as any dwelling that had no access to water or sanitation and was either made of not durable building materials, was overcrowded or had insecurity of tenure. However, she explained, the report found that not all slum-dwellers suffered the same degree or magnitude of deprivation, nor were all slums homogenous. Some, in fact, provided better living conditions than others, and the degree of deprivation depended on how many of the five “shelter deprivations” used to measure slums defined above were associated with a particular slum household.