The Metropolitan Century

Understanding Urbanisation and its Consequences

image of The Metropolitan Century

The report provides an outline of recent and likely future urbanisation trends and discusses the consequences. The world is in the middle of an urbanisation process that will cause urbanisation rates to rise from low double digit rates to more than 80% by the end of the century. It argues that this is both a great opportunity and a great challenge, as decisions taken today will affect the lifes of people for a long time to come. The report aims at explaining why cities exist, and what can make them prosperous and function well. It also discusses whether cities are good for residents, for the countries they are located in and for the global environment. The report argues that cities exist and grow because they are a source of economic prosperity and offer amenities that benefit their residents. It concludes that urbanisation is a process that needs to be shaped by policy makers to ensure that all benefit from it.



A short history of urbanisation

This chapter provides a selective overview of important episodes in the history of urbanisation, starting with the emergence of the first cities around 8 000 years ago. It describes important social, economic and technological advances that have influenced the urbanisation process. First, the chapter discusses the factors that made it possible to build the first cities. Second, it explains why urbanisation increased strongly during the Industrial Revolution. Third, it examines the reasons for continuing urbanisation in the post-industrial age and outlines technological advances in transport and construction that have shaped cities through to the present day. Lastly, it provides an overview of the ongoing worldwide urbanisation process and shows why urbanisation will be virtually completed by the end of this century.


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