The world's population living in cities or urban centers has risen steadily over the years, poised to reach 60 percent of the entire population by 2030 and 66 percent by 2050, a UN-Habitat report said on July 11.
The report is one of the items being discussed at the ongoing High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, a platform for follow-up and review of the UN 2030 Agenda that comprises 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
According to the report, between 2010 and 2050, an estimated 2.5 to 3 billion people will be added to the urban population worldwide.
The highest growth is projected to occur in less developed regions such as East Asia, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, it said.
"The fastest growing urban centers are the small and medium cities with less than one million inhabitants, which account for 59 percent of the world's urban population and 62 percent of the urban population in Africa," it said.
At a press conference on the sideline of the forum, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, executive director of UN-Habitat, said cities are growing at an incredible rate, and this makes urbanization a central component of sustainable development.
In order to achieve other SDGs, the international community must strengthen efforts to make urbanization or SDG 11 right, she stressed.
SDG 11 aims to make cities and human settlements safe, inclusive resilient and sustainable for people to live. It sets out 11 targets including affordable housing, upgraded slums and sustainable transport systems.
The urban SGD is currently being reviewed for the first time as part of the UN High level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
Maimunah Mohd Sharif described the goal as "extremely ambitious" in a context of difficult urban development challenges.
In 2018, conservative estimates place the population in slums at 1 billion.
Also, over the past 50 years, housing prices in high-income countries increased three times more than the prices of other basic services.
However, the UN-Habitat chief expressed optimism in progress towards the goal, saying "if we work together and have the integrated holistic sustainable development plan... I am sure we can achieve to some extent the sustainable development goal of urban agenda (in the year of 2030)."
UN-Habitat is the UN programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.
(Xinhua News Agency July 12, 2018)