Comment gérer la croissance urbaine

WASHINGTON – Du fait de leur urbanisation rapide, les pays en développement devraient compter quatre milliards de citadins en 2030, deux fois plus qu'en 2000. Mais une urbanisation sauvage est dangereuse, car l'espoir des migrants en une vie meilleure en ville pourrait être déçu en raison de conditions de vie insalubres, du chômage et de l'exposition aux catastrophes naturelles.

L'urbanisation rapide est un phénomène positif. Les villes sont des lieux de prospérité qui concentrent plus de 80% de l'activité économique. Leur densité facilite la fourniture des services de base tels que l'éducation, la santé, l'eau, l'électricité. Un mètre cube d'eau potable revient de 0,7 à 0,8 dollars en zone urbaine, contre 2 dollars en zone rurale.

Mais la concentration de richesses et de population, notamment dans les zones côtières, constitue une vulnérabilité économique, près de 3000 milliards d'actifs étant exposés au risque de catastrophe naturelle. Cette vulnérabilité va croître au cours des 20 prochaines années, car la surface bâtie va tripler en zone urbaine pour atteindre 600 000 kilomètres-carrés, souvent sans les infrastructures de base ou en l'absence d'une réglementation interdisant toute construction dans des zones exposées à un risque de catastrophe naturelle.

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