Over half the world’s population now lives in cities—and the global trend towards greater urbanization shows no signs of letting up. Whether pulled by job opportunities or pushed by unfavorable conditions in rural areas, 75 million more people per year are joining the ranks of cities across the globe.1
While urbanization holds promise for accelerating progress to a world without poverty, urban population growth also carries risks in the form of sprawl, pollution, and environmental degradation. At the 3rd annual Urbanization and Poverty Reduction Research Conference held at the World Bank in February, researchers and experts from around the globe gathered to share the latest research on how to ensure that urbanization delivers sustainable poverty reduction.
“Cities can be engines of innovation, growth, and prosperity,” said Research Director Asli Demirguc-Kunt. “But rapid and unplanned urban growth can threaten sustainable development.” She pointed to the disproportionate role of cities in climate change as larger cities consume two-thirds of the world’s energy and create over 70 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.
At the same time, cities are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Across the world, cities are increasingly exposed to climate-induced risks. Cities as far apart as Dhaka and New Orleans have witnessed the devastating impacts of flooding. Despite the risks, many cities have not implemented crucially needed policies to protect cities from climate change’s impacts.