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AFRO-NETS> Hopkins Report: Cities Will Determine Living Standards for Mankind

Hopkins Report: Cities Will Determine Living Standards for Mankind

Within five years half the world's population will live in urban ar-
eas, placing cities -- especially those in developing countries -- at 
the forefront in determining the kind of world that lies ahead, ac-
cording to a new report from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of 
Public Health.

Released ahead of this week's UN General Assembly special session 
which will review progress of the Istanbul 1996 Habitat II agenda 
setting out "approaches and strategies towards the achievement of 
sustainable development of the world's urban areas," the 4-page Popu-
lation Reports issue is a preview of a longer report to be published 
next year. The full text of the preview edition can be found at:

Noting that almost all population growth will take place in the cit-
ies of developing countries, the report, published by the Johns Hop-
kins Population Information Program, points out that, after Tokyo, 
developing country cities Bombay, Lagos, Dhaka, and Sao Paulo will 
head the list of "megacities" in 2015. Each will have over 20 million 
people. These cities, in addition to Karachi, Mexico City, and Shang-
hai, will be larger than New York with 17.4 million and Los Angeles 
with an estimated 14.1 million. Fifteen years later, by 2030, some 
60% of the world's population will live in cities.

In many cities the rapid growth has overwhelmed the capacity of mu-
nicipal authorities to respond. "Over 600 million people in cities of 
developing countries cannot meet their basic needs for shelter, wa-
ter, food, health, and education," according to the report. Why are 
cities in developing countries growing so quickly? Between 1960 and 
1990, excluding China, an estimated 60% of city growth came from 
births (minus deaths) in the urban population, and some 40% came from 
migration into cities from rural areas and from the expansion of ur-
ban boundaries.

Cities in developed and developing countries have a huge impact on 
the natural environment. Cities generate close to 80% of all carbon 
dioxide and account for 75% of industrial wood use. Some 60% of 
freshwater withdrawn for human use ends up in urban areas--either di-
rectly for use in factories, for drinking and sanitation, or indi-
rectly through the consumption of irrigated crops.

Alarmed by massive population growth, worsening health, living, and 
environmental conditions, some experts worry that cities in develop-
ing countries have become unmanageable. Others are more optimistic, 
observing that with good management cities can grow even larger with-
out making residents worse off and without ruining the surrounding 
environment, according to the report.

Authors Don Hinrichsen, Richard Blackburn, and Bryant Robey point out 
that meeting the family planning needs of city residents is a promis-
ing strategy not only for improving health but also for slowing popu-
lation growth to buy time for other sustainable, environmentally-
friendly policies to take effect. Such policies include better urban 
planning, more public transportation, better sanitation and rational 
water use policies, energy conservation, urban farming, and waste re-

Don Hinrichsen is a senior consultant with the United Nations Popula-
tion Fund (UNFPA); Richard Blackburn is a Senior Research Analyst for 
Population Reports; Bryant Robey is Editor of Population Reports. 
Population Reports is an international review journal of important 
issues in population, family planning, and related matters. It is 
published four times a year in four languages by the Population In-
formation Program at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Pro-
grams for more than 170,000 family planning and other health profes-
sionals worldwide, with support from the US Agency for International 
Development (USAID). USAID administers the US foreign assistance pro-
gram, providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 
countries worldwide.

For more information contact: 
Stephen Goldstein 
Kim Martin
Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs
111 Market Place, Suite 310
Baltimore, Maryland 21202, USA
Tel: +1-410-659-6300
Fax: +1-410-659-6266 

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