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Growth story
Civilisations cannot flourish by shunning urbanisation

Urbanisation has often been associated with slums, poverty and environmental degradation, which generally makes people conclude that urbanisation is insane. Nevertheless, cities are important seats of influence in the 21st century. The United Nations has claimed in a recent report that “The future of cities in developing countries is the future of humanity itself”. It further stated that the global urban population has reached over three billion and has surpassed the rural population; it is expected to touch five billion by 2030s.

Another report, titled, “State of World Population 2007,” stated - urban population is rising by 1.2 million persons per week vindicating that growth of cities is inevitable. There are several social, economical and environmental advantages associated with large concentrations of people, services and jobs in close proximity. This concentration helps the government to provide services, basic facilities and infrastructure more economically and effectively.

While growth of urbanisation in developing countries like India (8%) and China (14%) has been satisfactory, its contribution to the respective economies has been immense. The GDP contribution of the urban sector in India increased to 47% in 1980s from a mere 29% in 1950s and reached over 60% recently. The recent trend in urbanisation negated another myth that urban growth is confined to mega cities only. The truth is that small cities continue to absorb majority of urban growth because of their room to expand.

Be it the Roman, Egyptian or the Harappan civilisation, each of them flourished with a city as their focal point. The emerging markets (developing countries) should take a leaf out of history and accordingly design their urbanisation projects.

The current surge in land-locked, city-centric development projects should be lent impetus and carried forward, albeit with precautions.

Akram Hoque

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