Opportunities and Challenges of Urbanization: Planning for an Unprecedented Future
September 25, 2017Washington, DC

While urbanization is widely viewed as a key engine of development, urban population growth gives rise to both opportunities and challenges. In the near future, as urbanization processes unfold, Africa and Asia will face an unprecedented growth in the number of people residing in their cities. The urban population in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular is expected to increase by more than 400 million residents and double within the next 25 years.

Because agglomeration in cities stimulates trade and allows for increased productivity, these major demographic and geographic shifts have the potential to propel economies towards renewed growth and economic development. Yet, in contexts of poor infrastructure provision and weak institutions, cities may end up growing in ways that involve suboptimal land use, poor transport connectivity, dysfunctional labor markets, and harmful environmental impacts. 

What can (and should) be done to prepare for and to accompany the unprecedented phenomenon of massive urban population growth and ensure that it occurs in efficient and sustainable ways? Mobilizing lessons from urban economics and economic geography, Harris Selod will shed light on the benefits and costs of urbanization in a developing country context and will discuss the feasibility and efficiency of policies designed to reap the benefits of agglomeration, with a particular emphasis on land and transport issues.

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    Harris Selod, Senior Economist, World Bank

    Harris Selod is a Senior Economist with the Development Research Group of the World Bank in Washington, DC. His current research focuses on urban development, including issues related to transport and land use, as well as land tenure, land markets and the political economy of the land sector in developing countries, with a specific interest in West Africa.
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    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, Director of Research Department, World Bank

    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt is the Director of Research in the World Bank. After joining the Bank in 1989 as a Young Economist, she has held different positions, including Director of Development Policy, Chief Economist of Financial and Private Sector Development Network, and Senior Research Manager, doing research and advising on financial sector and private sector development issues.
  • John Roome, Senior Director, Climate Change, World Bank

    John Roome is Senior Director for Climate Change at the World Bank. As Senior Director, John not only leads a team of specialists but works across the World Bank Group to advance the institution’s climate change agenda.

The Policy Research Talks showcase the latest findings of the research department and their implications for World Bank operations. The monthly event facilitates a dialogue between researchers and operational staff so that we can challenge and contribute to the World Bank's intellectual climate and re-examine conventional wisdom in current development theories and practices. Read More »

Event Details
  • Time: 12:30 – 2:00 PM, September 25, 2017
  • Location: MC 13-121, World Bank Main Complex
  • CONTACT: Tourya Tourougui