Report warns of urbanization swell by 2050

Apr 10, 2012
Report warns of urbanisation swell by 2050

We hear and read a lot about our human carbon footprint but what do we know about our urban footprint? According to a new United Nations (UN) report, this urban footprint will expand by another 1.2 million square kilometres if we fail to make changes to our cities' development patterns. This huge increase is the size of France, Germany and Spain combined. The report's highlights were presented at the recent international science meeting, 'Planet Under Pressure', in London, United Kingdom.

Experts say the urbanization choices we make play a key role in the sustainability of the environment. UN estimates indicate that the will grow by 2 billion to 9 billion within the next 38 years, and centres will absorb the bulk of this increase. In essence, around 1 million more people are expected on average each week between now and 2050. Cities will likely feel more pressure as rural dwellers (another 1 billion people, according to projections) make their way to cities. The data indicate that the urban population will swell to 6.3 billion in 2050, up by 2.8 billion from today's estimates.

Dr. Michail Fragkias of Arizona State University in the United States says it is important to determine how to urbanize, not whether we have to. But it should be noted that today's ongoing pattern of urban sprawl puts humanity at severe risk, triggered by , according to the researcher.

For his part, Dr. Shobhakar Dhakal of the Project in Japan points out that we can gain environmental benefits if we implement reforms in existing cities and carry out better planning of new ones. "Re-engineering cities is urgently needed for global sustainability," says Dr. Dhakal, noting that emerging urban areas "have a latecomer's advantage in terms of knowledge, sustainability thinking, and technology to better manage such fundamentals as trash and transportation."

More than two thirds of the planet's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions relate to city needs. Urban area were estimated to be around 15 billion metric tonnes in 1990 and 25 billion metric tonnes in 2010. These figures are expected to jump to 36.5 billion metric tonnes by 2030 if no changes are implemented. Dr. Dhakal adds how the focus should be on "enhancing the quality of urbanization - from urban space, infrastructure, form and function, to lifestyle, energy choices and efficiency."

Meanwhile, Yale University's Professor Karen Seto says: "The way cities have grown since World War II is neither socially or environmentally sustainable and the environmental cost of ongoing is too great to continue."

And Professor Sybil Seitzinger, Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, says: "A truly sustainable planet will require cities to think beyond city limits. Everything being brought into the city from outside - food, water, products and energy - need to be sourced sustainably. We need to rethink the resource flow to cities."

Explore further: Global CO2 emissions increase to new all-time record, but growth is slowing down

More information: www.planetunderpressure2012.net/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Growth of cities endangers global environment

Aug 19, 2011

The explosive growth of cities worldwide over the next two decades poses significant risks to people and the global environment, according to a meta-analysis published today in Plos One.

Ecological impact of African cities

Dec 02, 2008

African cities are growing faster than anywhere else in the world. This is having a major impact, but few ecologists are studying the urban environment and effect of cities on rural areas. One of the most important ecological ...

Urban populations to tip scales

Jan 01, 2007

Scientists say humankind will be a predominately urban species in 25 years, with roughly 60 percent living in towns or cities, a report out of Britain says.

Ecotechnology for the smart cities

Dec 01, 2011

This alliance is generating a knowledge base on cities and ecotechnology; it will gradually be joined by various Basque and international organisations and companies capable of coming up with innovative solutions underpinned ...

Recommended for you

Obama bars oil, gas drilling in Alaska haven

11 hours ago

President Barack Obama declared Alaska's ecologically rich Bristol Bay off-limits for oil and gas exploration on Tuesday, saying the move was necessary to safeguard the region's fishing and tourism industries.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.