A picture can sometimes give us a new perspective on something we take for granted. For instance, we all know that the growth of cities has exploded during our lifetime. But this can still seem somewhat surprising, as when we compare a global map of urban areas in 1950 with a map showing what the world is likely to look like in 2030.
Already half of humanity lives in cities, and that is expected to rise to two-thirds by 2050.
If we see the period of 1950-2030 as an 80-year journey, then we have already completed 4/5 of it. And on that journey, the number and placement of human beings will have changed more than at any other time in the history of Planet Earth. By 2030, the vast majority of the Earth’s landmass will consist of majority-urban countries.
Notice how in 1950, most large urban areas were found in Europe and North America. Now look at 2030, when the majority of urbanites will live in Asia and Africa. India, China and Nigeria will each add approximately 1 billion people to their urban populations in coming years. That is going to mean a lot of construction – for work, free time, housing and mobility.
Global population growth and massive urbanization have provided us with numerous challenges. But they have also provided us – as a species – with an unprecedented opportunity to develop ingenious solutions to make life better. Densely populated cities already provide a more efficient way to deliver many services, as well as to save energy.