The Human City

The world is undergoing rapid urbanization, with the share of the population living in cities set to reach 60% by 2030. International institutions, governments, NGOs, and others must work together to make cities efficient, livable, and sustainable, using technology and public policy to support citizens’ welfare and aspirations.

SINGAPORE – The tangled web of international organizations that constitutes global governance has become so remote and ineffective that few count on it to deliver results anymore. Now, after decades of turf wars and self-marginalization, international organizations must rally around an increasingly pressing global priority: sustainable urbanization.

The world is undergoing an unprecedented and irreversible wave of urbanization, with the share of the global population living in cities set to reach 60% by 2030. But rapid urbanization is driving up industrial fossil-fuel consumption and household water consumption, and is increasing demand for food in areas where arable land is scarce. In short, the current urbanization trajectory is not sustainable.

But existing efforts to alter the situation remain woefully inadequate. While the United Nations General Assembly has tasked its agency for human settlements, UN-HABITAT, with promoting sustainable urbanization, the agency lacks the influence to ensure that this vital issue makes it onto the global agenda.

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