Globally, 54 percent of the population lives in urban areas today, and this trend is expected to continue: By 2045, the number of people living in cities will increase by 1.5 times to 6 billion, adding 2 billion more urban residents.

With more than 80 percent of global GDP generated in cities, urbanization can contribute to sustainable growth if managed well by increasing productivity, allowing innovation and new ideas to emerge.

However, the speed and scale of urbanization brings challenges, including meeting accelerated demand for affordable housing, well-connected transport systems and other infrastructure, basic services as well as jobs, particularly for the nearly 1 billion urban poor who live in informal settlements to be near opportunities.

Cities also play an important role in tackling climate change, as they 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 also increases. Almost half a billion urban residents live in coastal areas, increasing their vulnerability to storm surges and sea level rise.

Building cities that “work” – inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable – requires intensive policy coordination and investment choices. Once a city is built, its physical form and land use patterns can be locked in for generations, leading to unsustainable sprawl.

National and local governments have an important role to play to take action now, to shape the future of their development, to create opportunities for all.

Last Updated: Sep 29,2015

The World Bank’s work in urban development aims to build sustainable communities. This is fully aligned with institutional goals to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity through urbanization that is inclusiveresilientlow carbon and livable, as well as competitive.

The urban space provides an ideal platform for innovation and coordination of policies and actions across sectors and the public and private sectors. Emerging work on affordable housing, key to improving the quality of life for the growing number of urban residents, and sustainable tourism, a source of jobs and regional competitiveness, takes advantage of such cross-sectoral platforms operating across the World Bank Group.

World Bank supported operations and technical assistance also contributes to the objectives of the proposed Sustainable Development Goal No.11 to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

The World Bank Group’s new organizational structure enables improved sharing of experience across regions mobilizing global knowledge and operational expertise in the following global solution areas:

  • Low-Income Communities and Housing;
  • Urban strategy and analytics;
  • City management, governance and financing;
  • Sustainable infrastructure and services;
  • Resilience and disaster risk management.

Last Updated: Sep 29,2015

To help ensure that urbanization to managed well, contributing to sustainable and inclusive growth, the World Bank is conducting research which includes studies on urban spatial development, housing, and urban environment focusing on the entire continent, as well as country specific Urbanization Reviews that aim to support national and city level policymakers think strategically about the opportunities presented by urbanization and tackle the key roadblocks to success.

Recent analytical work to help cities manage urbanization and support sustainable, inclusive growth include “Financing Transit-Oriented Development with Land Values” and “East Asia’s Changing Urban Landscape: Measuring a Decade of Spatial Growth.”

Helping local governments build capacity in financial management, a municipal finance online course is being delivered twice every year to meet growing demand, with a companion report “Municipal Finances: A Handbook for Local Governments

To support climate smart urban infrastructure investments, City Creditworthiness workshops have been conducted in Kenya, Korea, Tanzania, Colombia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Jordan, helping over 150 cities from 30 countries.  The Bank is also working with partners to build climate smart planning capacity through the city climate planner certification program and development of city climate action planning tool.

Project support includes:

  • Vietnam: From polluted canal to green waterway – urban upgrading to improve lives. In rapidly urbanizing Vietnam, low income areas in Ho Chi Minh and other cities were often flooded with inadequate sanitation, causing serious health and environmental risks. The Urban Vietnam Upgrading Project addressed these challenges with $382 million financing from the World Bank, improving the lives of 7.5 million urban poor with better water and sewage connections, as well as improved roads, sewers, lakes, canals and bridges. Communities took part in designing and implementation.
  • Jordan: Improving urban infrastructure to revitalize historic cities. The World Bank provided financial and technical assistance for sustainable tourism development in 5 key cultural cities, integrating entrepreneurs and communities to support local economic development, led to an 18% increase in tourists and 6 million JOD in annual expenditures, directly and indirectly generating almost 800 jobs.
  • Tanzania: Arusha’s journey to better urban services, access and quality of life. With $213 million from the World Bank Group and $18.5 million from the Danish government, Arusha and other growing middle-sized cities and local government authorities are improving basic urban services by building core infrastructure and taking innovative approaches to urban management. Better data is helping: a Local Government Revenue Collection Information System (LGRCIS) is improving own source revenue collection, improving financial sustainability of these fast growing cities.
  • Honduras: Reducing violence and improving the quality of life for the urban poor. The Barrio Ciudad Project contributed to improving the quality of life for 56,000 direct and 925,000 indirect beneficiaries in 21 poor urban neighborhoods in eight rapidly growing cities. Improvements for households include achieving universal access to potable water in 2013 from 90 percent in 2005, and increasing access to sanitary sewage systems to over 81 percent in 2013 from 25 percent in 2005. Activities to prevent crime and violence at the community level were also incorporated.
  • Azerbaijan: Helping to manage waste safely. The Bank is helping the Azerbaijan government with improved solid waste collection and disposal operations in the Greater Baku area, which was previously unmanaged and environmentally unsafe. The new system established through the integrated solid waste management project includes an incineration and recycling plan, the first of its kind in the country, which meets international standard requirements. Waste from 78 smaller open dump sites was completely removed, and arrangements were made with local communities to prevent re-contamination of the cleaned areas.
  • Pakistan: Providing access to city services. In transitioning to decentralized government, the Bank provided capacity building and service delivery enhancement trainings for Punjab’s municipalities in their efforts to deliver basic services. Results include web-based performance management tool established with 105 local urban governments; improved financial reporting, reconciliation of accounts, and maintenance of ledger of receipts and expenditures through an automated accounting and financial management system; 3,137 staff trained in areas such as IT, planning (including using GIS for land-use planning) and operation and maintenance of infrastructure assets.

Last Updated: Sep 29,2015

Planning, Connecting, Financing: Priorities for City Leaders

Planning, Connecting, Financing: Priorities for City Leaders

Developing countries are urbanizing fast. To meet the challenges, city leaders must move quickly to plan, connect, and finance resilient and sustainable growth. This report provides a framework.

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