UNITED NATIONS – The number of city dwellers is at an all-time high of about 3.5 billion and will nearly double in the next 30 to 40 years, with almost all the growth in developing countries, the head of the U.N. agency focusing on cities said Monday.
Joan Clos said even though the rate of population growth is decreasing, the U.N. projects that in the next 30 years the global population will increase from 7 billion to 9 billion – and the urban population will grow between 2.5 billion and 3 billion people.
“In all human history, we have reached 3.5 billion of urban settlers and in the next 30 years we are going to have 3 billion more,” Clos said. “Imagine the changing rate – what we have done in all human history, we nearly will do in the next 30 to 40 years of history.”
With 96 percent of the growth of cities expected in poorer developing countries, he said, there are going to be huge demands on land, resources and services for urban residents.
Clos, a former mayor of Barcelona who is now executive director of the U.N. Human Settlements Program known as UN-Habitat, spoke at a news conference promoting the agency’s upcoming World Urban Forum from April 5-11 in Medellin, Colombia which will focus on growing inequalities in urbanization worldwide.
He said 10,000 participants are expected including ministers, mayors, academics and representatives from business, nongovernmental organizations and local authorities.
In recent decades, he said, inequalities in urban areas have led to protests and unrest as cities have faced difficulties integrating a big influx of migrants.