Today’s urban population of about 3.5 billion people is projected to reach 5 billion by 2030, with two-thirds of the global population living in cities. City leaders must move quickly to plan for growth and provide the basic services, infrastructure, and affordable housing their expanding populations need. Read More »
Our world is undergoing an unprecedented demographic shift, from rural to urban areas. By 2030, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities.
Nearly all of this growth is happing in developing countries where, each month, more than 5 million people migrate to urban areas. Nearly a billion urban poor live in slums, to be close to the jobs and opportunity generated by urban growth.
The challenges facing cities in the developing world are enormous. Rapidly growing cities are under tremendous pressure to increase access to basic services, land, infrastructure, and affordable housing, especially for the poor. In addition, extreme weather-related events occur with more intensity and frequency than ever, greatly increasing risk for almost a half billion urban residents living in coastal areas.
We know cities must be front and center if we want to alleviate poverty and increase shared prosperity. Almost 80 percent of GDP generated in cities, and no country has ever reached middle-income status without successful urbanization. And cities account for two-thirds of the world’s energy consumption and 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emssions.
We believe successful cities are sustainable cities; green, inclusive, resilient, and competitive, with sound systems for planning, connecting and financing, and smart, participatory governance. As cities in our client countries grow at historic rates, we recognize that urbanization is not only inevitable; it can be a powerful force for economic growth and poverty reduction.
Last Updated: Sep 20,2013
At the World Bank, we understand that the time for urban action is now. The infrastructure and policy choices made today – for better or worse – will lock cities into urban development patterns for decades to come. We have a window of opportunity to make sure urbanization spurs green, inclusive growth, with access to affordable and reliable basic services, education, housing, transportation, health care and jobs.
Planning, connecting and financing
Over the next 20 years, cities in the developing world will double their population and triple their built-up land area. Cities in developing countries often don’t have the resources – financial, administrative, natural or technical – to address the complex challenges of this rapid urbanization. In response, the World Bank’s urban strategy equips city leaders with strong systems to harness urban growth for poverty reduction, and shared, sustainable prosperity. Providing mechanisms to plan, connect and finance cities, the urban agenda brings together the following elements to build:
Green cities: providing technical and financial expertise to help cities plan for low-carbon climate resilient growth and access the necessary financing.
Inclusive cities: improving access to land, affordable housing, jobs and basic services, economic opportunities and, especially in low-income settlements, scaling up our efforts to upgrade slums, enhance community participation, and tackle urban poverty and social exclusion.
Resilient cities: strengthening cities’ multi-dimensional resilience and ability to cope with shocks, and better manage climate risk, disaster risk, economic shocks and social conflict.
Competitive cities: helping cities attract investment and create jobs by improving land markets, connectivity and regulation at the sub-national level, creating an enabling environment for business, and better leveraging of land and real estate assets. We are also taking a look at how urbanization policies and public investment can be better utilized to harness urban growth, agglomeration and productivity, and simultaneously addressing other issues associated with rapid growth, like pollution and congestion.
Strong city systems and governance: improving city systems and urban governance through strengthening land and housing markets, increasing the capacity to carry out integrated territorial development policies and land use planning. We do this through products and programs like MetroLab, a global laboratory offering strategic planning, peer-to-peer exchange and capacity building for metropolitan areas.
Today, policy makers look to the Bank for the tools and analysis to help meet the urban challenge. Our Urbanization Reviews provide a robust policy framework and a common suite of diagnostics for assessing the challenges and experiences of urbanization. The reviews take a look at what works and what doesn’t, translating international experiences into local solutions.
Urbanization Reviews span four continents and 12 countries, including Brazil, China, Columbia, India, Uganda, and Vietnam. Policy makers are using these reviews to guide and shape their development policies.
We act in partnership, open up our data, and connect cities to exchange best practices, innovations and ideas.
The Bank’s Urbanization Knowledge Platform, a network of more than 70 partner organizations, gives city leaders a global platform to learn and exchange best practices. Our EcoCities2 initiative promotes the interdependence between ecological and economic sustainability, tailored to the needs of each city.
Investing in Livable, Low Carbon Cities
As cities grow, so does the bank’s urban portfolio. Both IDA and IBRD commitments under the Urban Development theme have more than doubled – IDA, from an average of US $556 million a year in FY2003-2007 to US $1.6 billion in FY 2008-2012 and IBRD from an annual average of US $1.13 billion to US$2.58 billion for the same time period.
The Bank is currently helping urban leaders in 100 countries manage growth to achieve low carbon, livable, sustainable cities. All of our investment strategies are geared toward low-carbon growth, extending across the broad spectrum of urban development.
To encourage city-led sustainable development, the Bank initiated the Partnership for Sustainable Cities, a group of leading urban actors with a mission to collaborate on city development around the world. The partnership brings together leaders in the private sector, academia, and international financial institutions to help coordinate efforts to build inclusive, sustainable and resilient cities.
We recently launched a global initiative on solid waste management that includes a strong focus on reducing short-lived climate pollutants. A single, successful solid waste management project brings a surprising number of additional benefits – improving health, school attendance, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We use innovative, outside-the-box approaches – like results-based financing and output-based aid -- to address the chronic underfunding of solid waste operations in developing countries.
Learning from the experience of cities like Rio de Janeiro and working with our partners --CGI, C40, the Rockefeller Foundation and others -- the Bank Group will support cities to plan for low-carbon, climate-smart development and get capital flowing so they can finance those plans, targeting to reach the world’s 300 largest cities by 2030. This initiative:
Helps cities plan; measures urban emissions by developing diagnostics such as greenhouse gas inventories, provides tools to evaluate the emission reduction potential of different investments, and standardizes low-carbon, climate-resilient capital investment plans at the city level.
Gets finance flowing: leverages the Bank’s experience with innovative financing to develop new financial instruments for low-carbon investment in cities, develops new, pooled delivery mechanisms to attract additional private capital, and works with local municipalities to improve their access to capital markets.
Last Updated: Sep 20,2013
Some examples of results of projects achieved with International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Development Association (IDA) support include:
The Urban Upgrading Project in Vietnam improved environmental and living conditions in four major cities; Ho Chi Minh, Can Tho, Hai Phong and Nam Dinh, with infrastructure upgrades and affordable housing loans to women living in low-income areas. Neighborhood upgrading directly benefited over 2.5 million low income residents, with improvements to primary infrastructure reaching 2 million more. About 60,000 women have improved their homes, and an additional 35,000 women received loans to help generate additional income. Repayment rates hover at 100 percent. The success of the project prompted the government to scale it up; developing a National Urban Upgrading Program that was approved by the prime minister.
In Brazil, a comprehensive housing program supported the government in several areas of housing sector and urban development policy reform. The program helped the government put together its National Housing Plan and create a strong institution – the Ministry of Cities – to foster reforms. It created the policy, regulatory and institutional foundations for the Growth Acceleration Program-Slum Upgrading project, assisting 1.9 million families in 1,744 municipalities.
A novel project in solid waste management in Morocco encouraged municipalities to integrate solid waste management systems. The project undertook the development of a carbon finance program with the potential to generate revenue from 6 million tons of CO2 equivalent by 2020. It also triggered a 32 percent increase in the disposal of collected waste in sanitary landfills, and an increase in the municipal tax service from MAD 1.4 million in 2008 to 2.6 million in 2011.
The World Bank has been working in Bangladesh through the Municipal Services Project to improve the urban environment, infrastructure and services in select cities. Investing US $205 million, the project included constructed 1,381 kilometers of urban road, 11 bus and truck terminals, 24,960 streetlights, 230 kitchen markets, 287 solid waste collection vehicles, 260 drains, 173 water supply pipelines, and flood damage rehabilitation works in approximately 350 municipalities.