Globally, 54% 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% 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 2/3 of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% 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: Apr 04,2016

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 stakeholders. Emerging work on affordable housing, key to improving the quality of life for the growing number of urban residents; territorial development through various interventions including development of lagging regions and sustainable tourism, a source of jobs and regional competitiveness: and provision of basic services including water, sanitation and solid waste, that are closely related to climate, health and safety impacts 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.

In addition, during the last year the World Bank provided over $3 billion in urban climate finance and technical assistance to help developing countries build climate-smart cities; this figure is expected to grow proportionately as the Bank moves to increase its climate finance by 1/3 over the next five years.

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: Apr 04,2016

To help ensure that urbanization is 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 ‘East Asia's changing urban landscape : measuring a decade of spatial growth’ and ‘Leveraging urbanization in South Asia : managing spatial transformation for prosperity and livability’.

Conducted under the World Bank’s Resilient Cities Program, CityStrength is a rapid diagnostic that aims to enhance city’s resilience to a variety of shocks by facilitating dialogue and collaboration that helps identify priority actions and investments.

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

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 City 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 under the Tanzania Strategic Cities Project (TSCP), 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 and thus, enhancing 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%  in 2005, and increasing access to sanitary sewage systems to over 81% in 2013 from 25% in 2005. Activities to prevent crime and violence at the community level were also incorporated.
  • Azerbaijan: Helping to manage waste safely. The Bank has supported the Azerbaijan Government improve solid waste collection and disposal operations in the Greater Baku area. As a result, the main Balakhani landfill has been improved dramatically, a new solid waste management agency for Greater Baku has been established and more than 50 wild dumps have been cleaned and closed. A National Solid Waste Management Strategy and Investment Plan are now under preparation and will underpin future developments in the sector. In parallel with the Bank-supported project, the Government has inaugurated the start of new recycling and incineration plants in Baku.

 Pakistan- Improving Systems for Planning, Resource Management, and Accountability: The Bank is helping the five largest cities in Punjab - Pakistan’s largest province, to improve systems for planning, resource management and accountability through a USD 150 million results-based financing. The city governments are developing and implementing medium-term, integrated development and asset management plans with evidence-based prioritization for municipal infrastructure and services. These include a comprehensive GIS-based municipal asset database and energy audits of water utilities. City governments are also implementing procurement procedures aligned to best practices, resulting in savings in public expenditure. The urban property tax database has been digitized and fully automated, and other avenues for increasing own-source revenues are also being optimized. These measures have resulted in increased revenue collection and reduced expenditures, providing financial headroom. Automated systems for public access to information and grievance redressal; and availability of updated websites with information on budgets and procurements are ensuring greater accountability.

Last Updated: Apr 04,2016

East Asia’s Changing Urban Landscape: Measuring a Decade of Spatial Growth

East Asia’s Changing Urban Landscape: Measuring a Decade of Spatial Growth

New World Bank data compiled through satellite imagery and geospatial mapping provides better understanding of East Asia’s accelerating urbanization.

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