India is among the few countries where more people are still living in villages than in cities. There are many countries which are 100 per cent urbanised or majority of the population live in cities. Undoubtedly, cities provide immense opportunities to nations for economic growth but there are certain fallouts of unplanned urban growth. This article tries to capture the demography trends in countries around the world and highlights the issues concerning the shift
Urbanisation is the reality of today’s world and it inevitably implies displacement of people. No city has grown into a metro or megacity with organic growth. So if the city has to grow, the influx of people will certainly happen. Cities have to be ready else they will start crumbling in chaos. It is part of the process of urbanisation. The process can turn into a problem if the issue is not addressed and managed well by understanding the realities of migrants and their relation with cities.
The last fifty years witnessed a phenomenal jump in urban population in the developed world. Now, the trend is catching up in developing and low-income countries. The global urban population has grown rapidly since 1950, having increased from 751 million to 4.2 billion in 2018. Asia, despite being less urbanized than most other regions today, is home to 54 per cent of the world’s urban population, followed by Europe and Africa (13 per cent each).
Globally, more people live in urban areas than in rural areas, with 55 per cent of the world’s population residing in urban areas in 2018. In 1950, 30 per cent of the world’s population was urban, and by 2050, 68 per cent of the world’s population is projected to be urban. If we look at urban population region-wise, today, the most urbanized regions include Northern America (with 82 % of its population living in urban areas in 2018), Latin America and the Caribbean (81 %), Europe (74 %) and Oceania (68%). The level of urbanization in Asia is now approximating 50 %. In contrast, Africa remains mostly rural, with 43 per cent of its population living in urban areas.
As Singapore shows, lasting reforms are best achieved with greater commitments of public and private resources towards new project pipelines and stricter regulations to ensure sustainable infrastructure development. In last 55 years after it became an independent nation, the city administration and management were improvised gradually and the city-state set high standards for delivery of public services and infrastructure. All cities may not become Singapore because of their physical and financial health conditions yet every city can set a precedent on solving certain issues based on their strengths
What is an urban area?
The definition of an urban area can vary from one country to another based on demographic and sociological criteria. In a demographic sense, the urban areas are defined as per population and population density. While sociological criteria such as social connection, access to services are intangible and relative. According to United Nations criteria, a place with a population of 20,000 people or more is defined as an urban area. From this definition, Vatican City, Gibraltar, Singapore, Nauru, Bermuda, Hong Kong, and Monaco have achieved 100 per cent urbanization. Most of them are significantly small countries or a collection of small areas bounded by a single city. Their population is also far less than many global cities. Other countries with more than 90 per cent people living in cities are Qatar, Kuwait, Belgium, Malta and Uruguay.
However, this is not a universally accepted definition. For example, in India, a place which has a population of 5000 and over 75 per cent male population is engaged in non-agriculture activity is considered urban. According to the Census of India 2011, the definition of an urban area is as follows:
- All places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee, etc.
- All other places which satisfied the following criteria:
- A minimum population of 5,000
- At least 75 per cent of the male main working population engaged in non- agricultural pursuits;
- A density of population of at least 400 persons per sq. km.
From this definition, India has 4041 statutory towns and 3892 census towns. Among the states, Uttar Pradesh had the largest number of towns – 648 statutory towns and 267 census towns in 2011. According to Census 2011, If we look at the level of urbanization, defined as urban population as a proportion of total population, Goa was the most urbanized state with 62.17 per cent urbanization in 2011 followed by Mizoram at 52.11 per cent urban population. Among the Union Territories, Delhi had urbanization level of 97.50 per cent followed by Chandigarh with an urbanization level of 97.25 per cent in 2011. Himachal Pradesh had the lowest urbanization with only 10.03 per cent population living in urban areas in 2011, followed by Bihar (11.29 per cent).
Cities have to solve the problems arising from the increase in population else they will face unprecedented challenges. Cities need to lay a concrete plan based on targets and indicators else cities will not be able to address specific issues. City leaders and citizens need to be open to updating these plans and sticking to them across successive governments. Mayors with different political affiliations may come and go but citizens have to take an important role in the process of policymaking at local level. Cities are already setting tough emissions targets, investing in greener infrastructure, providing subsidies for renewable energy, and building parks and municipal sinks to reduce their carbon footprint. However, this is still happening only in cities with greater financial and administrative independence.
A report published on the World Economic Forum website details the model of Singapore and how the city utilizes its resources optimally and sustainably. It says Singapore, one of the densest cities in the world, is also a model of green planning. In the 1960s, Singapore was heavily congested, with open sewers and dense slums. Over the past two decades, the city set aside hundreds of acres and planted 3 million trees for an urban garden that acts as the lungs of the city.
It also created one of the largest freshwater nature reserves on the planet. As Singapore shows, lasting reforms are best achieved with greater commitments of public and private resources towards new project pipelines and stricter regulations to ensure sustainable infrastructure development. In last 55 years after it became an independent nation, the city administration and management were improvised gradually and the city-state set high standards for delivery of public services and infrastructure. All cities may not become Singapore because of their physical and financial health conditions yet every city can set a precedent on solving certain issues based on their strengths.