Friday, June 11, 2010

Year 2030 Urbanization

The McKinsey Global Institute recently published a report, India's Urban Awakening: Building Inclusive Cities, Sustaining Economic Growth (April 2010), that highlights the projected urbanization of the developing world with a view of India. Look at the numbers outlined in the report for India:
  • Five times - - the number by which GDP will have multiplied by 2030.
  • 590 million people will live in cities, nearly twice the population of the United States today.
  • 270 million people net increase in working-age population.
  • 70 percent of net new employment will be generated in cities.
  • 91 million urban households will be middle class, up from 22 million today.
  • 68 cities will have population of one million plus, up from 42 today; Europe has 35 today.
  • $1.2 trillion capital investment is necessary to meet projected demand in India's cites.
  • 700 to 900 million square meters of commercial and residential space needs to be built - - or a new Chicago every year.
  • 2.5 billion square meters of roads will have to be paved, 20 times the capacity added in the past decade.
  • 7,400 kilometers of metros and subways will need be constructed - - 20 times the capacity added in the past decade.

The speed of urbanization will catch the politicians and planners off guard. It took newly 40 years for India's urban population to rise by 230 million. It could take only half that time to add the next 250 million. The speed of this transformation places a huge challenge on the technical, political, managerial, and policy components of managed growth.

How we mange these dense urban environments in the developing world will be extremely important to the rest of us. We must effectively and efficiently fund urbanization - - funding from both the private and public sectors. We must focus on governance - - transparency and accountability will be crucial in developing countries with complex political and social relationships and networks. Integrated and system based planning at all organizational levels will be needed to manage the large increase in urban development. Housing and sustainability are critical concerns and issues. Innovation, creativity, and flexibility will be important attributes for engineers and planners when coming up with potential solutions to problems. Finally, geography comes into play, how will these new urban landscapes look and how will the population be distributed?

Twenty years is not a buffer, it is a constraint -- urbanization in the developing world should not be about waiting for change - - it is planning for it.

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