U.N. SHOWS HALF OF WORLD POPULATION TO LIVE IN URBAN AREAS NEXT YEAR
MANILA, JUNE 30, 2007 (STAR) By Sheila Crisostomo - For the first time in history, more than 3.3 billion people – or half of the world population – will be living in urban areas next year, a report of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) showed yesterday.
In its “State of the World Population Report 2007,” the UNFPA said this number is expected to swell to almost five billion by 2030.
“In Africa and Asia, the urban population will double between 2000 and 2030. Many of these new urbanites will be poor. Their future, the future of the cities in developing countries, the future of humanity itself, all depend very much on decisions made now,” the UNFPA noted.
Urbanization has pressing concerns like housing, environment, governance and administration. Most urban growth will come from natural increase in population rather than migration.
UNFPA claimed the increase in urban share of total population is “inevitable but it can also be positive” as no country in the industrial age has achieved significant economic growth without urbanization.
“Concentrating population in cities can contribute to long-term sustainability. The potential benefits of urbanization far outweigh the disadvantages. The challenge is learning how to exploit its possibilities,” the UNFPA added.
It is estimated that between 2000 and 2030, Asia’s urban population will soar from 1.36 billion to 2.64 billion while Africa’s population will rise from 294 million to 742 million. That of Latin America and the Caribbean will increase from 394 million to 609 million.
“The growth of cities will be the single largest influence on development in the 21st century. Yet little is being done to maximize the benefits of urban growth or reduce its harmful consequences,” the agency maintained.
UNFPA said the changes that might be brought by urbanization are “too large and will happen too fast to allow planners and policymakers simply to react.”
“Policymakers generally have been unwilling to accept urban growth and have tried to prevent it by discouraging migration. Such policies are ineffective, reducing housing for the poor and therefore promoting the growth of slums,” it added.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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