The rapid population growth automatically pushes urbanization the most transformative agenda of the 21st century. Rapid Urbanization? The UN projects that 68% of the world population will live in urban areas by 2050.
By then, human population, economic activities, social-cultural interactions, as well as environmental and humanitarian impacts, will increasingly be concentrated in cities. This will impose massive sustainability challenges in terms of housing, infrastructure, basic services, food security, health, education, decent jobs, safety and availability of natural resources.
Consequently, there will be a dramatic increase in informal settlements dwellers. I once read this paradox in the Theory of slums!
Urbanization drags along the risks and challenges of urban sprawl which is mostly unregulated. The rapid development leads to landscape transformation, which further alters the structure and function of ecosystems.
There is chaos and conflict when urban land use starts to engulf agricultural land and rangeland. These lands are vital for rural livelihoods. This poses a challenge to the quality of services delivered.
In developing countries, quality of life is characterized by expansive informal settlements and serious environmental degradation in the urban and peri-urban areas.
The tremendous increase in energy consumption in urban areas contributes most of the greenhouse gases, changing the urban thermal environment. A large amount of air pollutants emitted in urban areas not only contributes to local climate change but also impacts on human health.
This calls for more innovative approaches to future urban planning.
Looking into the Future
New urban planning trends can be integrated into urban systems to provide an environmentally functional peri-urban belt around future cities. Modern urban land governance system needs to respond to these planning and urban land use challenges.
The demands of sustainable and climate-smart cities can be met by adopting Participatory and Inclusive Land Readjustment (PILaR) principles. The latter is by reallocating land in the urban areas in a more sustainable way for unified planning. It recognizes that rights to land are rarely absolute, but rather, there exists a continuum of land rights. PILaR is also holistic in the sense that it takes care of all stakeholders into account. Whether they are landowners, landholders, formal or informal residents, tenants or people with customary rights.
The New Urban Agenda reaffirms its global commitment to sustainable urban development as a critical step for realizing the SDGs (SDG 11 ) in an integrated and coordinated manner at the global, regional, national, sub-national and local levels with the participation of the actors.