1 September, 2016
Across the world, more people live in urban areas as compared to rural ones. In the year 2014, 54 per cent of the world population was living in urban areas. Compare that to the year 1950, when only 30 per cent of the world population was living in urban areas.
By the year 2050, urbanization is set to further explode, with 66 per cent of the world’s population projected to live in urban areas. In Asia, particularly, 64 per cent people are likely to stay in urban areas by the year 2050, as per the UN urbanization report, 2014.
This boom in urban population poses massive energy challenges for Asia, which is already struggling with the issues of energy supply security, environmental sustainability and affordable access.
Overall worldwide, more people tend to live in urban areas than rural ones, with North America leading the count at 82 per cent. Latin America and the Caribbean also have 80 per cent of the population living in the urban sphere. In Europe 73 per cent population live in Urban areas and in Africa and Asia 40 and 48 per cent of population respectively live in urban areas, although both continents are witnessing rapid urbanization.
Around 90 per cent of the increase in the world’s urban population will be concentrated in Africa and Asia. India, China and Nigeria are also likely to account for 37 per cent of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2014 and 2050.
The UN predicts that Tokyo, Delhi and Shanghai will remain the world’s most populous cities in 2030, when each is projected to be home to more than 30 million people. Tokyo, which has around 38 million inhabitants, is projected to remain the world’s largest city in 2030, with around 37 million inhabitants. It will be followed closely by Delhi, where the population is estimated to swell up to 36 million in 2030, according to the UN urbanization report, 2014.
Mumbai, Beijing, Dhaka and Karachi are the other top most populated cities in Asia, compared to Cairo, Lagos, Mexico City, Sao Paulo in the rest of the world. Asian cities will also witness massive energy challenges, owing to the population explosion and uncontrolled urbanization. Asian countries, particularly India and China, would also need to secure sufficient energy to drive economic expansion in the forthcoming decades.
Unplanned urbanization will also bring threats to sustainable development, when there is a lack of necessary infrastructure and policies to ensure equitability in sharing resources and necessary benefits.