Today, 55% of the world's inhabitants live in cities. In the coming years, the proportion of urban dwellers will increase, mainly due to the urbanization in Africa and Asia. The rapid growth in the number of urban dwellers promises new opportunities, including in the field of industrialization, but at the same time it leads to overpopulation of cities, increasing inequality and environmental degradation.
On Tuesday this week, a meeting on the role of cities in sustainable development, food security and climate change mitigation was held at the UN headquarters in New York. Addressing the participants, including mayors of cities from different continents, the President of the General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, noted that rapid urbanization requires a new approach to urban management. She recalled that by 2050 70% of the world's population will become city residents.
One recent UN report says that there the most cities are situated in North America today. There city residents make up 82% of the population. The smallest amount of urban dwellers live in Africa and Asia. But by 2030, 47% of Africa's population and 56% of Asia's population will live in cities. In Europe, by this time the proportion of citizens will be 77%.
Cities are centers of intellectual activity, trade, culture, science, productive labor, social development, and more. But many of them are becoming the epicenters of crises: some of their areas are turning into "ghettos", centers of mass poverty and hotbeds of crime. Accommodation remains inaccessible to many people in both developing and developed countries. Globally, 1.6 billion people today live in"poor housing conditions". Of these, approximately 1 billion are residents of urban slums.
During the current 73rd session, member states of the UN General Assembly approved a resolution in which they resembled the importance of the Urban development program, which was adopted in October 2016 in Quito. This is a kind of urbanization agenda: a strategy for building and developing environmentally sustainable and prosperous cities.
It calls for a rethinking of urban planning, design and development. This approach, according to the authors of the document, will make an important contribution to the implementation of the 2030 development Agenda. It identifies seventeen goals and 169 more specific targets. They relate to poverty eradication, health, gender equality, fight climate change, boost economic growth and creation of new jobs, improving access to modern energy sources, expansion of services in the field of water and sanitation and protection of the environment.
One of these 17 goals, the eleventh, aims to develop cities for the benefit of all their inhabitants and make them centres of innovation and social change.
Speaking at a recent forum on the implementation of urban development strategy, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed stressed that it is in the cities "that the battle for sustainable development will take place and it is in the cities that it will either be won or lost".
"We are all well aware of the important, key role of cities and urbanization in achieving sustainable development, peace and security. Today, most people - about four billion-live in urban areas. By 2050, six billion people will become city residents, " said Amina Mohammed.
The first Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations noted that jobs, technology, an active economic development are concentrated in cities. City residents account for more than 80 percent of global GDP.