Las ciudades y el desarrollo sostenible

NUEVA YORK – Tacloban (Filipinas) acaba de entrar en la lista cada vez mayor de ciudades –incluidas Nueva Orleáns, Bangkok, Moscú, Nueva York, Beijing, Río de Janeiro y Port-au-Prince, por nombrar sólo algunas– azotadas en los últimos años por catástrofes climáticas. Muchas de las mayores ciudades del mundo, construidas en riberas marinas y fluviales, afrontan la amenaza del aumento de los niveles del mar y la intensificación de las tormentas. Así, pues, el nuevo programa de desarrollo mundial que ahora se está formulando debe capacitar a las ciudades para que contribuyan a encabezar la marcha hacia el desarrollo sostenible en el siglo XXI.

La importancia de las ciudades en la economía mundial actual carece de precedentes. Hasta la Revolución Industrial, la historia humana era abrumadoramente rural. Sólo el diez por ciento, aproximadamente, de las personas vivían en ciudades. Actualmente, el porcentaje de habitantes de ciudades asciende al 53 por ciento, aproximadamente, y es probable que aumente hasta el 67 por ciento de aquí a 2050.

Como los ingresos por habitante son mayores en las ciudades que en las zonas rurales, se calcula que las ciudades del mundo actual representan más del 80 por ciento de la renta mundial, la mitad, aproximadamente, de la cual corresponde a las 600 mayores. En los próximos decenios, la mayoría de los nuevos puestos de trabajo creados corresponderán a ciudades, con lo que ofrecerán medios de vida a centenares de millones de jóvenes y, como han demostrado China y el Brasil, se reducirá en gran medida la pobreza extrema.

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