Managing urbanisation

Managing urbanisation

The United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014) released a report on ‘World Urbanization Prospects.

Dr Abdul Razak MohamedThe United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014) released a report on ‘World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision’ highlights the following facts which includes (a) urbanisation takes place at a faster rate around the world nations, (b) urbanisation is faster in developed countries when compared to developed nations, (c) the correlation of urbanisation with economic growth has been weaker in developed countries (d) urbanisation takes place in the smaller settlements, (e) there is lack of definition for human settlement globally, (f) megacities and large cities are located in the global south and (g) measures to manage urbanisation.

There is a vast difference in the characteristics of the world’s urban areas and its surroundings. It is interesting to state that almost half of urban dwellers reside in relatively small settlements of less than 5,00,000 inhabitants, while nearly one in eight live in 28 mega-cities of 10 million inhabitants or more. The number of megacities around the world has tripled since 1990 and by 2030, 41 urban agglomerations are projected to house at least 10 million inhabitants each. The fastest-growing agglomerations are medium sized cities and cities with 5,00,000 to 1 million inhabitants located in Asia and Africa.

Countries with more than 50 per cent urban population consists China which has the largest urban population (758 million), followed by India (410 million). These two countries account for 30 per cent of the world’s urban population and another five countries, the United States of America (263 million), Brazil (173 million), Indonesia (134 million), Japan (118 million) and the Russian Federation (105 million), account for more than half of the world’s urban population. Most megacities and large cities are located in the global South. China alone has six megacities and ten cities with populations between 5 and 10 million in 2014, and it will add one more megacity and six more large cities by 2030. Four of India’s cities with 5 to10 million inhabitants presently are projected to become megacities in the coming years Ahmadabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad.

Globally, more people live in urban areas than in rural areas, with 54 per cent of the world’s population residing in urban areas in 2014. In 1950, 30 per cent of the world’s population was urban, and by 2050, 66 per cent of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas. Population growth and urbanisation are projected to add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050. Out of this population, about 90 per cent of the increase will be concentrated in Asia and Africa. However, only three countries—India, China and Nigeria—together are expected to account for 37 per cent of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2014 and 2050.

With more than hundreds of years of research in urban and regional planning and development around the world, the report categorically brings out the fact that there is no common global definition of what constitutes an urban settlement. As a result, the urban definition employed by national statistical offices varies widely across countries, and in some cases has changed over time within a country. The criteria for classifying an area as urban may be based on one or a combination of characteristics, such as: a minimum population threshold; population density; proportion employed in non-agricultural sectors; the presence of infrastructure such as paved roads, electricity, piped water or sewers and the presence of education or health services. In India, the definition of urban as per the census of India, follows three criteria such as size of population, density and workforce participation in non agricultural sector. There are number of villages in India having more than 5,000 population with satisfying density and share of non agricultural workforce. It is true in the case of villages in Kerala and it is appropriate to mention that the majority of the human settlements are urban than rural.

The report suggests certain measures to cope up and manage urbanisation around the world. The suggestions are focused on the need for small and medium town development with balanced rural and regional development both in terms of socio-economic and spatial aspects. The measure mentioned in the report includes (a) governments must implement policies to ensure that the benefits of urban growth are shared equitably and sustainably, (b) diversified policies to plan for and manage the spatial distribution of the population and internal migration are needed, (c) policies could aimed at a more balanced distribution of urban growth, (d) accurate, consistent and timely data on global trends in urbanization and city growth are critical for assessing current and future needs with respect to urban growth and for setting policy priorities to promote inclusive and equitable urban and rural development, (e) successful sustainable urbanisation requires competent, responsive and accountable governments charged with the management of cities and urban expansion, as well appropriate use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for more efficient service delivery.

It is mentioned in the report that urbanisation is integrally connected to the three pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection. This situation is of greater importance towards socio-economic and spatial planning of our cities and towns in India. It is the era of urbanisation and world of cities with increasing urban population and urbanisation across the world. The fast and wide spread of information and communication technology resulted in the emergence of digital cities and digital societies where knowledge transformation and development is a visible fact and more in urban areas than rural areas. More of rural centric development is essential for India towards creating a better quality of life for rural and urban population.

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