Reverse Covid through sustainable urbanisation: UN Habitat 

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With covid 19 having serious implication on the Cities, the UN Habitat has called for developing sustainable urbanization to build back better from the impacts of the pandemic and get the world back on track for achieving the SDGs.

In its latest report “The Value of Sustainable Urbanization, World Cities Report 2020”, the UN Habitat has come up with several suggestions for well planned cities for creating social, economic, environmental and other unquantifiable value for improving the quality of life of all.

World continues to urbanize:

The report points out that the pandemic will lead to lasting demographic changes and that the world will further urbanize in the next ten years. It will see a shift from the present 56.2 per cent to 60.4 per cent by 2030. The report points out that the highly urbanized areas are likely to slow their rate of urban growth. It also states that ninety-six per cent of urban growth will happen in less developed regions of South Asia, East Asia and Africa. China, India and Nigeria will account for 35 per cent of the total increase in global urban population from 2018 to 2050, the report stated.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said that unplanned urban living will leave people vulnerable. COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep inequalities, he said and added that tackling the virus has become more challenging in urban areas, where housing was inadequate, access to quality healthcare was uneven and jobs were precarious. Maintaining that cities have borne the brunt of the pandemic, the UN Chief said that the urban world must respond effectively to the pandemic and prepare for future infectious disease.

UN Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif opined that urbanization could be leveraged for the fight against poverty, unemployment, inequality, climate change and other challenges.

Cities consume and faster:

Urban areas are growing much faster than their population. As such they consume more land for urban development. The report notes that unbridled expansion of urban regions has many implications for climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and environmental degradation. It said that cities in developed countries increased their land area by 1.8 fold when its population increased by 1 2-fold.

Migration, a driving force:

Stating that one in every person is a migrant, the UN Habitat report states that 763 million internal migrants and 272 million international migrants were now present in the world.

Inequality, a persistent trend in urban areas:

Income inequality has increased for more than two thirds of the urban population since 1980. About 2.9 billion people are now living in cities where income inequalities are more pronounced than a generation ago. It said that several cities in the UK, US, Latin America, Africa and Caribbean had high levels of inequality. Inequality can lead to social unrest, it added.

 Affordable housing remains elusive:

Prospective homeowners are bound to save more than five times their annual income for a standard house. Meanwhile the renter spends more than 25 per cent of their monthly income on rent. Unaffordable meant inadequate housing and the slums remaining only choice for low income households. The report states that 1.6 billion people live in inadequate housing. Of this, one billion lives in slums and informal settlements.

Key Messages

  • Implement New Urban Agenda
  • Well-planned cities and urban extensions to curb excessive land consumption
  • Responding to enduring threat of climate change with local action
  • Integrating migrants to spur prosperity, diversity and entrepreneurship

 

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