Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Planet of Slums

Depending on who you listen to either half the world's population now lives in cities or it will by next year. Was a time when the planet's population was predominantly rural and agricultural by vocation but that has been giving way to urbanization for a long time.

What may surprise you is that the pace of this urban migration is only expected to speed up. The United Nations warns that our already congested cities will likely double in population by 2030. What's being predicted is a planet of slums. From The Independent:

"'The growth of cities will be the single largest influence on development in the 21st century,' the report states. It maintains that over the next 30 years, the population of African and Asian cities will double, adding 1.7 billion people - more than the current populations of the US and China combined.

"In this new world the majority of theurban poor will be under 25, unemployed and vulnerable to fundamentalism, Christian and Islamic.

"Mike Davis, a population expert, described this emerging underclass in his recent work Planet of Slums as: 'A billion-strong global proletariat ejected from the formal economy, with Islam and Pentecostalism as songs for the dispossessed.'

"George Martine, a demographer and the author of today's report, said: "The urbanisation is jolting mentalities and subjecting them to new influences. This is a historical situation. And now one of the ways for people to reorganise themselves in this urban world is to associate themselves with new or strong, fundamentalist religion."

Some highlights of the UN report:

* By 2008, more than half of the world's current 6.7billion population will live in cities.
* By 2030, the urban population will have risen to 5 billion, 60 per cent of the world's population.
* Half of the world's urban population is currently under 25. By 2030, young people will make up the vast majority of the 5 billion urban dwellers.
* Between 2000 and 2030, Asia's urban population will increase from 1.3 billion to 2.64 billion. Africa's population will rise from 294 million to 742 million, Latin America and the Caribbean from 394 million to 609million.
* Mega-cities do not have a monopoly on population growth. More than half of the urban world lives in cities with a population of less than 500,000.

1 comment:

Red Jenny said...

Planet of Slums was an excellent book. :)

Cities are vitally important and yet so often the municipal is the most underfunded of all governments. In Canada our system of provincial paternalism leaves cities extremely disadvantaged.