The next 15 megacities #2: Could Dar es Salaam’s experiment with Africa’s first ‘gold standard’ bus rapid transit system offer an alternative to a future dependent on private cars?
This is a good article about the critical nature of transportation infrastructure to a growing city in the developing world. More important than this one article, I want to highlight the entire Guardian series entitled "The Next 15 Megacities."
In 1975 there were only 3 megacities (cities population over 10 million) in the world. Today there are 33 megacities and by 2035, there are expected to be 48. This acceleration is one of the more astounding and important facts about how the world is changing today. This series explores these emerging megacities that will have over 10 million by 2035; overwhelmingly these cities are in Asia.
"China’s urbanization is a marvel. The population of its cities has quintupled over the past 40 years, reaching 813m. By 2030 roughly one in five of the world’s city-dwellers will be Chinese. But this mushrooming is not without its flaws. Restraining pell-mell urbanization may sound like a good thing, but it worries the government’s economists, since bigger cities are associated with higher productivity and faster economic growth. Hence a new plan to remake the country’s map.
The idea is to foster the rise of mammoth urban clusters, anchored around giant hubs and containing dozens of smaller, but by no means small, nearby cities. The plan calls for 19 clusters in all, which would account for nine-tenths of economic activity (see map). China would, in effect, condense into a country of super-regions."
This type of plan would have been politically and economically unthinkable in years past, but the time-space compression (convergence) has made the distances between cities less of a barrier. High-speed transit in the form of bullet trains link cities to other cities within the cluster more tightly together and the threshold of the functional region expands. While some of these clusters are more aspirational, the top three (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing) are already powerful global forces.
“The newest ranking of the world’s most economically powerful cities put together by Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) research team finds New York to be the clear winner [over London]. Our Global City Economic Power Index is based on five core metrics: Overall Economic Clout, Financial Power, Global Competitiveness,
Equity and Quality of Life.”
100 years ago, the biggest trends in urbanization showed that the biggest cities in the world were also the most economically powerful cities in the world in core areas. In the last 50 years, the most obvious change has been the remarkable growth in of the world’s largest cities in the developing world.
Questions to Ponder: Why has there been such spectacular growth of megacities, especially in the developing world? How is this map ranking global cities different from a list of the world’s largest cities? What regional patterns do exist in the 25 most economically powerful cities in the world? What are the implications of these patterns?
“The world’s cities are booming and their growth is changing the face of the planet. Around 77 million people are moving from rural to urban areas each year. The latest UN World Cities Report has found that the number of “megacities” – those with more than 10 million people – has more than doubled over the past two decades, from 14 in 1995 to 29 in 2016. And whereas the developed world was once the home of the biggest cities, this map shows that it is now the developing world taking the lead.”
If you could go back in time to the 1980s, you would find a city that is drastically different than today’s Shanghai.
This series of seven satellite images shows how quickly the economic development of China has impacted the urban sprawl of China’s biggest cities. Pictures of the downtown area’s growth are impressive, but these aerial images show the full magnitude of the change.
The days of easy growth in the world’s cities are over, and how they respond to demographic shifts will influence their prosperity.
Some cities throughout Africa and Asia have experienced spectacular growth. Europe, on the other isn’t see the same level of growth and is even experiencing urban decline in a few regions.
Questions to Ponder: What patterns do you see in these maps? What cultural, demographic and economic factors explain some of the regional patterns in these maps?
“A host of environmental factors are threatening to push a crowded capital toward a breaking point.”
Urban ecology, environmental justice, gendered inequities, primate city politics, the struggle of growing megacities…it’s all here in this fantastic piece of investigative reporting. The article highlights the ecological problems that Mexico City faces (high-altitude exacerbates air pollution, interior drainage worsens water pollution, limited aquifers that are overworked lead to subsidence, importing water outside of the basin requires enormous amounts of energy, etc.). just because the article doesn’t use the word ‘geography’ doesn’t mean that it isn’t incredibly geographic. All of these problems are at the heart of human-environmental nexus of 21st century urbanization.
“The world is experiencing rapid urbanisation, but not every city is growing. Population is likely to decline in 17% of large cities in developed regions and 8% of cities across the world from 2015 to 2025, according to a McKinsey report.”
This is a fantastic series of maps for human geography and regional geography classes. Some cities throughout Africa and Asia have experienced spectacular growth (click here for 5 infographics showing East Asia’s massive urban growth). Europe, on the other isn’t see the same level of growth and is even experiencing urban decline in a few regions.