What are the positive effects of urbanization

BY JASCHA SCHULZ | 03/16/2015 11:49 AM

Problems and opportunities of urbanization

Since 2008, more people have lived in cities than in rural areas. And the trend of urbanization continues. But how can the increased demand for food, energy and mobility be met? And is urban population growth really a global phenomenon? UNI.DE pursued these and other questions relating to urbanization. It was particularly noticeable that developing and emerging countries have completely different problems with regard to urbanization than Western nations do.


Slums are urban slums that are characterized by neglect and overpopulation. The drinking water supply is mostly inadequate, and there is hardly any functioning infrastructure. In Nairobi there are around 200 such slums, in which almost 60% of the good three million people live. The population of the slums can often watch the wealthier strata of the population play golf from their homes. This paints an exemplary picture of social inequality in large cities in developing and emerging countries. Many of these countries cannot cope with the strong population growth - in Nairobi, for example, there were still 1.3 million people in 1989.

Cage People

Of the 8 million people in Hong Kong, 1.3 million live below the poverty line. Around 100,000 people have to live in cage apartments, which are sometimes smaller than 2 square meters [...] »
The urbanization trend is particularly evident in Africa and Asia. Because industrialization is in full swing here. More and more people are therefore moving away from the country and looking for work and a better quality of life in cities. They often do not encounter these because the cities do not expand infrastructures such as water supplies accordingly. Medical care is also mostly not adapted to the changed conditions. Socially weak groups are thus further excluded from the advantages of prosperity, and the disease rate rises.

The United Nations suspects that the trend towards urbanization in developing and emerging countries will continue. While today 54% of the world's population is settled in cities, it should be 66% by 2050. As a result, six billion people will live in cities by 2050. 90% of the increase is expected in African and Asian countries. As always, urbanization should go hand in hand with an increase in the economic power of the countries. However, a functioning infrastructure and general access to water and medical care are necessary so that the increasing economic performance of the countries also leads to an increase in the individual quality of life.

In the industrialized countries, many people can already experience the positive consequences of urbanization. Large western cities often offer a wide range of leisure and cultural activities as well as diverse work opportunities. The chances of political participation are also greater in urban regions. For these reasons, many people in western countries continue to move to the city, even though the process of industrialization has largely been completed here.

Experts also emphasize other advantages of urbanization. Because in the city, a high population growth can be dealt with better than in the country. A comprehensive water and electricity supply as well as a comprehensive mobility network are much cheaper to provide due to the dense coexistence of the population.

The difficulties, however, lie in the implementation. When it comes to the question of how quickly you can get where, the expansion of local public transport and the mobile networking of the various parts of the city will be decisive. This is the only way to prevent traffic jams and overcrowding on buses and subways. New mobility concepts, such as car sharing, contribute to mobile flexibility in the city center. The distances that the individual has to cover in their daily routine should also be minimized. In this way, one promises a reduction in CO2 Emissions, since short distances should be covered on foot or by bike. The challenge here seems clear: a city has to be designed in such a way that you can find everything you need for everyday life in a small radius. The beautification of the cityscape in order to make the footpath more attractive forms an integral part of this concept.

Food and energy supply represent a further challenge. Here, creative approaches are required in order to react to the increasing demand. The concept of indoor farming (UNI.DE reported) forms such an approach with regard to the food supply of densely populated areas. It relocates the cultivation of food into the interior using a hydroponic technique, thus saving space. The use of normally unused areas is also becoming increasingly important in other respects in the big city. Angela Million, professor at the TU Berlin, describes roofs as a “huge resource”. They could be transformed into solar roofs, green spaces and allotments and thus improve the energy supply and the “microclimate” of the city.

For many, a colorful place that gives people a wide range of development opportunities and virtually unlimited mobility is the ideal of the modern city. Cities in emerging and developing countries in particular are still a long way from this idea.
  • Dirty Death: How Dangerous Is Pollution? Respiratory infections, heart disease or cancer: pollution is the cause of many diseases. However, the consequences of contaminated water, air and soil are deadliest in countries in the global south. The most common cause of death is not malaria or malnutrition, but environmental pollution. UNI.DE reports on the extent of global pollution and what can be done about it. [...] »
  • Sin City: The city as an environmental offender In particular, where there is a lot of traffic, there are large industrial areas and many people live, there is logically more air pollution and an increased burden on the environment. Above all, it is cities that contribute very strongly to harmful greenhouse gas emissions and thus also those responsible who have to counter global climate change through targeted measures by reducing their immense CO2-Reduce emissions. The goal of many environmental protection plans is therefore the climate-neutral city. [...] »
  • Problems and opportunities of urbanization Since 2008, more people have lived in cities than in rural areas. And the trend of urbanization continues. But how can the increased demand for food, energy and mobility be met? And is urban population growth really a global phenomenon? UNI.DE pursued these and other questions relating to urbanization. It was particularly noticeable that developing and emerging countries have completely different problems with regard to urbanization than Western nations do. [...] »
  • The population explosion and its fatal consequences: an end in sight? Whereas in the past, up until the 19th century, the population grew mainly in the industrialized nations, the opposite effect has now been observed. From 1750 to 1930, the proportion of people of European origin rose from 18 to 35 percent. Today, however, the greatest increase is taking place in the developing countries, while the population in the western countries is steadily declining. There are around 7.2 billion people on earth now, compared to 1.6 billion at the beginning of the 20th century. In the last few decades in particular, the total population has increased rapidly in ever shorter periods of time. Humanity is currently growing by around 1.2 percent or 77 million people annually. According to a report by the United Nations, the world population is heading for a record level: in 2050, at least 9.3 billion people will live in this world. But what then? [...] »
  • TTIP: Still many question marks EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström recently announced that there will only be minor changes to the planned transatlantic free trade agreement TTIP. That would be disastrous: Because the planned arbitration tribunals for investment protection are to be retained, there is still a threat of lowering political standards and endangering democratic achievements, and TTIP will probably not be a job engine either - neither in Europe nor in the USA. [...] »
  • The future of agriculture More and more people populate the earth, at the same time the number of farms in our country is decreasing more and more. Industrial agriculture is already overwhelming the soil, groundwater and the climate. Traditional agriculture, called "organic" in Germany, could easily feed nine billion people - provided they refrain from leading the irresponsible lifestyle of today's North American and European populations. [...] »
  • Climate compensation: offsetting CO2 emissions The largely undisputed emissions trading has a sister that has grown significantly in recent years: climate compensation. Companies that emit a lot of carbon dioxide, for example, invest in the planting of forests in developing countries and thus acquire the right to CO2 to emit to the extent that the trees store it in the medium term. Is that a forward-looking idea? [...] »
  • Prosperity without growth? In highly developed countries in particular, many people define prosperity in terms of their income compared to that of others - and thus make their happiness indirectly dependent on economic growth. But research proves: In the long term, our lifestyle destroys the foundations of our happiness. Conscious consumption and renunciation in the sense of quality instead of quantity not only preserves our earth for future generations, but also points the way to happiness and a prosperity that deserves this name. [...] »
  • Soil Atlas 2015: We are pulling the ground away from under our feet Our soils are an endangered resource. This is the frightening result of the world's first “Soil Atlas”, which was presented at the beginning of the year and contains unpleasant data and facts about the worldwide use of soils and agricultural areas. Too much land is lost through development, too much through wrong agriculture, so it is said in the atlas. The EU, as “the world's largest soil importer”, comes off particularly badly. [...] »
  • Curitiba - a city with a system In 2014 the world is looking to Brazil. Then the 20th World Cup will kick off under the motto “All in the same rhythm”. One of the twelve venues is Curitiba, capital of the state of Paraná in the south of the country. But apart from football fans and brightly colored flags, the city of almost two million people is definitely noteworthy. Because when the city planners were confronted in the early 1970s with the development away from agriculture and livestock trade towards an ever greater expansion of industry and an ever faster population growth, they developed an overall ecological and infrastructural system that is still considered exemplary for the linkage of urbanity and sustainability applies. [...] »