chapter  1
33 Pages

Development in the first urban century

This book provides an introduction to some of the key issues surrounding the challenges of urban poverty and development in the twenty-first century. It comes at a critical moment. For the first time in history more people around the world live in urban areas than in rural ones. All economically advanced nations are predominantly urban societies, having urbanised rapidly during the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But most low-and middle-income countries remained (until relatively recently) predominantly rural. This is changing fast. Cities of unprecedented size are emerging; slums, shanty-towns and squatter settlements are growing; urban poverty is rising; war and terrorism threaten the security of urban dwellers in rich and poor countries alike; and the stability of the global environment is under threat, with particular implications for urban centres. At the same time, cities have historically played an important role as drivers of social, political and economic transformations; they are social melting pots, nodes of regional and international communication and transportation, engines of economic growth, seats of political power and iconic cultural spaces. As such, the relationship between cities and development is complex.