Numbers of tomorrow's urban development

June 19, 2015


Undoubtedly, modern living is about the urban environment – that is where tomorrow is planned, that is where change takes place, that is where more and more humans dream to make a living.  However, what living can one make considering the current development trends? Today 54% of the population lives in urban areas, and this percent is bound to increase to 66% until 2050. More exactly, 2.5 billion people will move to cities in the next 35 years, and 90% of this population will be in Asia and Africa.


At Quercus Group we work on ambitious projects of mapping smart city opportunities in different countries. In this context, the question of “what are the trends in urban living?” plays an important role in establishing the foundation for sustainable development. The current article provides an answer based on a summary of key facts from the United Nations report on World Urbanization trends, 2014.


In 2014 The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs published a report called “World Urbanization Trends 2014” that accounts for the changes and challenges created by this socio-economic context. Some of the key facts include:

  • Today, Northern America (82% of the population living in urban areas in 2014), Latin America and the Caribbean (80%), and Europe (73%) are the most urbanized regions.

  • At the same time, Africa and Asia remain mostly rural, with 40 and 48% of their respective populations living in urban areas. These two are urbanizing faster than the other regions and, by 2050, are projected to become 56% and respectively 64% urban.

  • There has been a tremendous growth of the urban population in the world from 746 million in 1950 to 3.9 billion in 2014.

  • By 2030, the world is projected to have 41 mega-cities with more than 10 million inhabitants. Tokyo is projected to remain the world’s largest city in 2030 with 37 million inhabitants, followed closely by Delhi where the population is projected to rise swiftly to 36 million. Several decades ago most of the world’s largest urban agglomerations were found in the more developed regions, but today’s large cities are concentrated in the global South.

  • Tokyo is the world’s largest city with an agglomeration of 38 million inhabitants, followed by Delhi with 25 million, Shanghai with 23 million, and Mexico City, Mumbai and São Paulo, each with around 21 million inhabitants.

  • The lower-middle-income countries where the pace of urbanization is fastest will be the stars of tomorrow development because of fast development. What needs to be mentioned is that a larger urban population requires integrated public policies to improve the life of the dwellers, while keeping account of the rural standards of living.

In short, in a fast developing urban world and growing population, the biggest challenge of tomorrow is to make it sustainable.  Smart measures need to be implemented to answer the needs of people, not only from an economical perspective, but considering that people need a safe, human and livable environment to make a living.

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