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How should we respond to urbanization?

How should we respond to urbanization?

Portrait of 常博 逸
高级合伙人, CEO
慕尼黑办公室, 中欧
+33 1 5367-0910

By 2050, more than 6 billion people – two-thirds of the world's population – will live in cities, compared with half today and just 15% a century ago. Ninety percent of that urban growth will occur in the developing world, especially in Asia and Africa. As I explained in a recent presentation to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, this new wave of urbanization has thus far failed to raise living standards to anywhere near the same extent that it did historically in the advanced nations. Simply put, these rapidly urbanizing parts of the world face a crisis of urbanization without economic growth.

To overcome this, cities and city building must become a priority for the UN, the advanced nations and international development agencies. This requires a better capture and use of data for predicting economic growth, recognizing best practices and training mayors, city officials and city builders on how to apply them to achieve sustainable urban economies. These global cities – many of them yet to be built – hold vast promise, but it is not blind promise. They can tip either way. As we embark upon the greatest epoch of city building that the world has ever seen, our greatest challenge is to make sure that they tip the right way.

Food for thought by Richard Florida
Richard florida is the author of The New Urban Crisis, published by Basic Books in 2017. He is university professor and director of cities at the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and a distinguished fellow at New York University's Schack Institute of Real Estate. He serves as senior editor for The Atlantic, where he co-founded and serves as editor-at-large of CityLab.

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  • Photos Jasmina007 / iStockphoto; Jorg Greuel / Getty Images; Illustrations by Martin Burgdorff; xijian / iStockphoto