TREND: The Global South’s Ris­ing Megac­i­ties: A Chal­lenge to Ur­ban Liv­ing

Southern Innovator - - CITIES & URBANIZATION -

The world crossed the thresh­old from be­ing a ma­jor­ity ru­ral world to a ma­jor­ity ur­ban one at the end of the first decade of the 21st cen­tury. The rea­son for this is the fast-grow­ing ur­ban ar­eas of the global South, and this is hav­ing a pro­found ef­fect on how the world’s peo­ple live. Across the global South, there are many ex­am­ples of unchecked growth lead­ing to squalor and poor hous­ing con­di­tions, and in turn to poor health and high rates of crime and dis­or­der. The ur­ban­iza­tion hap­pen­ing to­day across the global South is un­prece­dented for both its speed and its scale.

It is this un­prece­dented speed and scale that are chal­leng­ing gov­ern­ments and pol­i­cy­mak­ers.

Many coun­tries and re­gions are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing highly stressed en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions, with poor ac­cess to wa­ter and ris­ing air pol­lu­tion dam­ag­ing hu­man health. At the same time, un­prece­dented change in tech­nol­ogy and com­mu­ni­ca­tions is tak­ing place. Ev­ery year, more and more of the world’s pop­u­la­tion gains ac­cess to 21stcen­tury com­mu­ni­ca­tions such as smart phones and the In­ter­net or “apps” (ap­pli­ca­tions), al­low­ing the ex­change of so­lu­tions and ideas at a rapid pace.

Many are weigh­ing the ben­e­fits and down­sides of such an ur­ban, dense world. Denser cities make it eas­ier and more ef­fi­cient to de­liver ser­vices, and pro­po­nents see a rapid rise in liv­ing stan­dards in these megac­i­ties. Oth­ers see wide-scale poverty and vi­cious fights over re­sources in crime-rid­den, un­healthy, packed megac­i­ties. These pes­simists point to cur­rent con­di­tions in many megac­i­ties across the global South.

Re­gard­less of the per­spec­tive, many agree that there must be a cul­tural change in how peo­ple live and be­have to make the megac­i­ties work. The first big push from ru­ral to ur­ban took place in Europe in the 19th cen­tury. In 1800, just 3 per cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion lived in cities. All the cities now seen as cos­mopoli­tan hubs of eco­nomic and cre­ative energy were just shad­ows of them­selves prior to the 19th-cen­tury in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion.

Lessons were learned from hard ex­pe­ri­ence and one of the most im­por­tant lessons was this: if a city is to grow – and grow quickly – then it must plan for this growth and put the well-be­ing of peo­ple at the cen­tre of this plan. This is crit­i­cal to en­sure that public health is im­proved and that the tran­si­tion to denser liv­ing con­di­tions im­proves hu­man well-be­ing rather than mak­ing it worse.

The num­ber of megac­i­ties will dou­ble over the next 10 to 20 years. Many of these cities are in South and East Asia and by 2025, seven of the world’s top-10 megac­i­ties will be in Asia. Whole new cities are ap­pear­ing that most peo­ple across the world have never heard about – yet.

One of the most rapidly ur­ban­iz­ing coun­tries in the world is China. At the be­gin­ning of 2012, Chi­nese author­i­ties an­nounced that the coun­try had be­come a ma­jor­ity ur­ban place, with most cit­i­zens liv­ing in cities. This pop­u­la­tion of 690.79 mil­lion sur­passed the ru­ral pop­u­la­tion of 656.56 mil­lion peo­ple. – (May 2012)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.