Urbanisation

Most in Asia-Pacific already in cities; expect 3.5 bln by 2015

Urban boom will be despite declines in Japan, China, Korea

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Thursday 31 October 2019
Tokyo. Photo Getty Images

Asia-Pacific is now dominantly urban — more than half the region’s population in 2019 live in cities and towns — according to demographers at the United Nations. And the trend will continue.

“The region’s urban population exceeded 2.3 billion, comprising 54 per cent of all urbanites on the planet,” according to The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities, a new report by the United Nations. 

The region will add to its urban population at a never-before speed. It will add four Tokyo-sized urban population centres every year through. “The region’s number of urban dwellers is expected to rise to more than 2.8 billion in 2030 and reach nearly 3.5 billion in 2050,” according to the report.

However, urbanisation rate in the region will not be growing at the same pace as that of the rise in urban population: it will soon stagnate, the demographers forecast. Some major countries, in fact, will also record declines in urban population.

This means the rise in urban dwellers will be concentrated in some parts.

There is already a decline in the urban population in Japan. South Korea will record a similar trend. China’s urbanisation is expected to plateau by 2050. East Asia’s urban population, thus, will decline for the first time.

By 2040s, the major growth in urban population is likely in central, south-west and south-east Asia.

Urbanisation brings in challenges like eradication of poverty. Rural areas now host most of Asia-pacific’s poor. But fast urbanisation and a growing population in urban centres is changing that.

Asia-Pacific has “the largest concentration of people experiencing urban poverty,” according to a 2015 UN-Habitat estimate. A third of urban population lives in slums and slum-like conditions.

The focus will have to be on availing basic necessities such as sanitation and drinking water and eradication of poverty. “Cities in Asia and the Pacific will need a lot more of this ‘can do spirit’ if we want to meet the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN under-secretary-general and executive director of the UN Human Settlements Programme, said.

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