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An urbanizing world: with strong growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

Infographic | 06-07-2017

Estimates predict the total world population to grow by almost 2 billion people to over 9 billion by 2050. At present, around 50% of the world population lives in an urban environment, and the percentage is also expected to increase, reaching around 70% by 2050. Most of the population growth and the population shift to large cities will take place in developing countries. A dramatic example is Sub Saharan Africa, where currently two thirds of all new city dwellers move into informal settlements or slums, and half of these people are expected to remain there in the long term. Worldwide, almost 1 billion people are already living in these informal urban settlements without adequate access to vital infrastructures.

Urbanisation has a formative effect on society and people’s quality of life as well as on the global production and consumption patterns of resources and energy. At the same time, cities are facing the consequences of climate change. It is in cities where most people and assets are at risk of suffering extreme weather events. International agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda confront these challenges.


Source data

Hajer M and Dassen T. (2014). Smart about cities: visualizing the challenge for 21st century urbanism. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague.

Kraas F, Leggewie C, Lemke P, Matthies E, Messner D, Nakicenovic N, Schellnhuber H, Schlacke S, Schneidewind U and Brandi C. (2016). Humanity on the move: Unlocking the transformative power of cities. WBGU-German Advisory Council.

Ligtvoet W, Hilderink H, Bouwman A, Puijenbroek P, Lucas P and Witmer M. (2014). Towards a world of cities in 2050. An outlook on water-related challenges. Background report to the UN-Habitat Global Report. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague.

UN DESA (2015). World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, Key Findings and Advance Tables. Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP.241. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York.

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