RECENTLY, The New Times published an article on sustainable urbanisation written by Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, the Under-Secretary-General of the UN (Rapid urbanisation: Is it a threat to global development?), who pointed out that by the end of this century, ten billion people will inhabit our planet, with 8.5 billion living in cities alone.
This could sound like a dream but, with sufficient political will, vision, and creativity – along with some simple, practical policy changes – we may be able to create cities of dreams.”
She argued that cities can be a boon to economic and social development, but that rapid urbanisation has a potential downside: “Cities are hubs of economic and social power. They drive national and global development by concentrating skills, ideas, and resources in a single location. But rapid urban development comes at a heavy cost.
As cities expand, they swallow up land that would otherwise be used for food production. They drain water supplies, account for almost 70 per cent of global energy use, and generate more than 70 per cent of greenhouse-gas emissions.”