Developing World: Cities facing rising challenges
By Dr B K Mukhopadhyay
The stern reality: the world population has risen seven fold over the last 200 years. For the first time in history, a majority of the world’s six billion people are living in cities. Between 2000 and 2025, the world’s urban population will double.
French Institute of Demographic Studies projected that by the end of this century there will be 10 to 11 billion people on the planet. The world population will jump from the current 7.1 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050. In India the same is assessed to rise from 1.2 billion to 1.6 billion, while that in Chi will remain at the same level [1.3 billion].
Urban population is expected to increase by 1.5 billion over the next 20 years, while the number of megacities will double. The UN predicts that by 2015 there will be 358 “million cities” with one million or more people and 27 “mega–cities” with ten million or more. Much of this growth will happen in developing countries. What a big challenge!! India is set to become the world’s most populous country by 2050 with a population of nearly 1.6 billion people!
The crucial role of cities as hubs of economic and technical innovation is an established fact by now. Cities matter because the productivity benefits they provide to knowledge–intensive business are important for regiol and tiol prosperity. The lessons extracted from successful cases of city revival in Europe and city growth in other economies like Chi clearly illustrate the importance of human capital and creativity for cities to compete in a global market and help tiol economies to maintain their competitive edge. This awareness, no doubt, has been closely associated with the ongoing structural changes in most emerging economies. Side by side, it is not to be forgotten that urbanization is not a curse in as much as the same creates huge wealth and opportunities, ebles better use of assets and creates new ones. Urbanization – being a continuous and spontaneous process – in most developing countries is bringing about enormous changes in the spatial distribution of people and resource and in the use and consumption of land. The unfortute part is that though such process is strongly linked to development [social, technological and economic], many countries lack the appropriate policies and frameworks that can leverage it for increased development gains and can guide it towards sustaible patterns. In a word, these are not harnessed for development and de facto urbanization’s challenges often seem to outpace the development gains.
Obvious enough, economic growth will increasingly come from the strength of innovative activities instead of factor accumulation as in the past. Recent researches also suggest that such innovative activities are concentrated in high–tech clusters in globally–linked cities. Over time as the share of the rural sector in GDP goes down, urban activities take the lead in the very growth process, ably backed by the service activities [major components of the urban service activities include business and creative industries with high value added]. In fact globalization [integration with the global economy and interdependence] and the emergence of the tertiary economy have raised the profile of cities in development, especially as innovation and foreign investment are attracted by the agglomeration economies offered by well maged large cities. [e.g. telecommunication, broadcasting, energy, tourism, and major urban infrastructure services – water supply, transportation, and education].
Side by side, it is crystal clear that the near future of globalization and urbanization will bring enormous challenges as well as opportunities to both developed and developing countries. Douglass (2005) rightly located that development is likely to be polarized in a limited number of urban regions, which shows and indicates that while convergence of production and income may happen across countries, divergence is likely to occur within each country as globalization will bring a concentration of activity to a few sites. The emergence of mega–urban regions with the development of world cities and links among them s the strong possibility – the formation of transborder regions, the development of intertiol corridors, and significance of intertiol networking, among others.
Clearly, the near future of globalization and urbanization will bring enormous challenges as well as opportunities to both developed and developing countries. Noted urban planner Douglass rightly opined that development is likely to be polarized in a limited number of urban regions. That is to say, while convergence of production and income may happen across countries, divergence is likely to occur within each country as globalization will bring a concentration of activity to a few sites. The emergence of mega–urban regions with the development of world cities and links among them is a strong possibility. The formation of trans–border regions, the development of intertiol corridors, and significance of intertiol networking cannot be ruled out.
A lot thus depends on how infrastructure requirements are finced. The amount required on this score, needless to say, is a big one. How that is met is definitely a question, but where is the way out? Fund arrangement must be made so that the assets created become extremely useful in future. A number of instances may be shown where the fund invested virtually went a begging in as much as the investment made was on relatively less important are. Opportunity cost aspect requires adequate attention, among others.
Following Mila Freire, World Bank, it may be located that the main challenges include (a) the need to keep urban planning and magement flexible and ready to adapt to new developments in the economic or social front; (b) getting the best possible technical alysis; (c) pushing the agenda of excellence; (d) thinking big and long–term; (e) looking at the big picture – overall competitiveness, labour market, environmental quality, and standing as regards capital and human capital; (f) engaging the private sector; (g) understanding and discussion with community leaders of how much limited–resource local governments can offer; (h) establishing contracts vertically with the central government and horizontally with other municipalities
The utmost need is there for integration of urban development in tiol sustaible development policies. Such policies serve as ebling frameworks for transport corridors, job creation and at the same time development of [within and between] cities. Plus, they can also empower local authorities to work more closely with tiol government. The importance of developing tiol urban policies as levers for sustaible development remains beyond any shade of doubt.
Needless to reiterate that housing has been the biggest problem and the way it is encountered in some cases goes beyond description. The United tions estimated that over one billion people live in these types of conditions. Though, globally, a number of different measures have been tried to elimite or improve areas of substandard housing [one of such result–oriented–methods is to clear out the entire run down section of a city, demolishing the existing housing and replacing it with government or privately funded modern housing], yet the aspect calls for planned approach, which, in turn, could ensure proper land use backed by greening, while at the same time will better the social environment via raising the level of consciousness! Stricter enforcement of laws and proper supervision will better the city life even in the short run.
Clearly, successful tiol urban policies has the ability to yield multiple results: the identification of urban development priorities towards socially and economically equitable and environmentally friendly urban and tiol development; future development of the tiol urban system and its spatial configuration concretized through tiol and spatial Plans for regiol development; coordition and guidance of actions by tiol functiories vis–à–vis lower levels of government in all sectors; and, of course, increased and well coordited private and public investments in urban development, which, in turn, lead to consequent improvement of cities’ productivity, inclusiveness, environmental conditions and people’s participation in the development process.
Huge tasks ahead!!
(The Writer, a noted Magement Economist, an Intertiol Commentator on Business and Economic Affairs and Principal, Eminent College of Magement and Technology, Kolkata, can be reached at email@example.com)