In fact, the Sustainable Development Goal 11 and New Urban Agenda have laid out a vision toward making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable for all. To get there, the World Bank is working with countries worldwide to ensure that cities and metropolitan regions excel in the three critical roles they play—matchmakers, drivers, and anchors—for people and businesses alike.
What do these roles entail? What actions can cities take to ensure sustainable growth and secure a path toward an inclusive, resilient future? Already, while leaving no one behind:
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- Cities as matchmakers that connect people to opportunities
In Sub-Saharan Africa, cities can be disconnected, crowded, and costly. To improve living conditions and better connect people to jobs, cities must prioritize sustainable land management, according to a report titled “Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World”. The report recommends a two-pronged policy approach: 1) formalize land markets, clarify property rights, and institute effective urban planning; and 2) make early and coordinated infrastructure investments.
Similarly, in rapidly urbanizing regions such as East Asia and South Asia, city planners and government decision-makers need to adopt proactive policies to provide land, housing, and services, as well as improving livability and connectivity for new urban residents. With over half of the forcibly displaced globally living in urban spaces, this is also true for cities especially in the Middle East and Africa.
- Cities as drivers of inclusive economic growth
Of the 750 global cities analyzed in a report on competitive cities, three-quarters have grown faster than their national economies since the early 2000s. However, 1 out of 3 urban residents in the developing world still lives in slums, often in fear of crime and violence. To ensure that tomorrow’s cities provide opportunities for all, the World Bank calls for a three-dimensional “Inclusive Cities” approach that addresses spatial inclusion, social inclusion, and economic inclusion at the same time. And by investing in accountable local institutions and empowering urban communities, cities can also become safer places to live.
- Cities as anchors for securing development gains amid increasing climate and disaster risks
By 2030, without significant investment into making cities more resilient, natural disasters may cost cities worldwide $314 billion each year, and climate change may push up to 77 million more urban residents into poverty. Recognizing the need to scale up the amount of financing to increase the resilience of urban areas, the World Bank’s Resilient Cities Program, supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), aims to help cities from Africa to Asia—through financing and applying diagnostic tools such as CityStrength—adapt to a greater variety of changing conditions and withstand shocks while maintaining essential functions.
“The coming 10-15 years are especially critical for cities,” said Sameh Wahba, the World Bank’s Director of Urban Development. “The planning and investment decisions that local governments take will shape their future trajectories—as well as the climate change and social inclusion agendas, among other things—for decades to come.”
These are just a few of the many big ideas to help shape the future of cities. What’s your big idea on shaping a sustainable future for your city? Tweet with #Cities4Dev and join us for a live discussion on April 21.