Urban angst

WE DID not need the UN to warn us that our world faces a huge and developing crisis in the explosion of urban population across the globe. We can already see it happening everywhere — from New York and London to Karachi and Mumbai to Johannesburg — with disturbing consequences.

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Published: Mon 26 Jun 2006, 9:53 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:14 PM

In its State of the World Cities report, the UN World Urban Forum that has just concluded in Vancouver, Canada, paints a grim picture of the challenges facing major cities in the coming years. The poorest parts of mega cities could become centres of deprivation and great instability. Statistics are truly alarming: Thirty-eight per cent of urban growth will be in slums. By 2020, at least six out of 10 people would be living in cities. Goes without saying that this means a huge challenge to planners and leaders of the future.

For its part, the UN should go beyond issuing regulation warnings and wake-up calls. It has to come up with pragmatic suggestions and solutions to deal with the coming crisis. Instead of urging rich and developed countries to write off loans to poor Third World nations, the world body should work with urban planners, international agencies and concerned countries to evolve a global strategy to take on the formidable challenge that lies ahead. It’s time to replace rhetoric with credible action.

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