Cities are growing at an unprecedented speed. In emerging economies, the urban population is expected to double in 30 years (2000-2030), adding 2 billion more people. Built-up urban areas will increase by 1.2 million square kilometers, nearly tripling the global urban land area in 2000.
More than 80 percent of global GDP is generated in cities. If managed well, urbanization can promote sustainable growth by increasing productivity, allowing innovation and new ideas to emerge, saving energy, land and natural resources.
However, rapid urbanization brings challenges, including meeting accelerated demand for basic services, infrastructure, jobs, land, and affordable housing, particularly for the nearly 1 billion urban poor who often live in informal settlements.
Cities also consume close to two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
As cities develop, their exposure to climate and disaster risk increases, as well. Almost half a billion urban residents live in coastal areas, increasing their vulnerability to storm surges and sea level rise.
Shocks to urban systems can have a catastrophic impact on a city’s ability to meet the most basic needs of its citizens, and reverse decades of economic development gains especially in small, fragile states.
Building cities that “work” – green, inclusive, resilient, and competitive – requires intensive policy coordination and investment choices. The World Bank’s technical and financial assistance for urban development has increased significantly: total commitments have doubled, to an annual average of US$4.11 billion (FY09-13) from US$2.15 billion (FY04-08)