State of the World 2007: Notable Trends

State of the World 2007 - Our Urban Future
State of the World 2007 Home Page

An Urbanizing World

  • In the last half-century, the world’s urban population has increased nearly fourfold, from 732 million in 1950 to more than 3.2 billion in 2006. (p. 7)
  • Africa now has 350 million urban dwellers, more than the populations of Canada and the United States combined. Asia and Africa are expected to double their urban populations to roughly 3.4 billion by 2030. (p. 4)
  • The vast majority of net additions to the human population—88 percent of the growth from 2000 to 2030—will be urban dwellers in low- and middle-income countries. (p. 7)


Providing Clean Water and Sanitation

  • Roughly half the people in African and Asian cities lack healthy and convenient water and sanitation. (p. 26)
  • A million or more infants and children die each year from diseases related to inadequate water and sanitation, and hundreds of millions suffer illness, pain, and discomfort. (p. 27)
  • Local community organizations and nongovernmental groups in the slums of Mumbai and Pune in India have designed, built, and managed more than 500 public toilet blocks that are safer, cleaner, and cheaper than standard facilities. (pp. 36–37)


Farming the Cities

  • An estimated 800 million people are involved in urban farming worldwide. (p. 50)
  • Consumers in urban areas pay up to 30 percent more for food than people in rural areas. In some cases, poor urbanites spend 60–80 percent of their income on food. (pp. 51–52)
  • Studies show that people at farmers’ markets have as many as 10 times more conversations, greetings, and other social interactions than people in supermarkets. (p. 53)
  • Worldwide, 3.5–4.5 million hectares of land are irrigated with wastewater, which is used on more than half of the urban vegetable supply in several Asian and African cities. (p. 54)


Greening Urban Transportation

  • On average, urban car travel uses nearly twice as much energy as urban bus travel, 3.7 times more than light rail or tram system travel, and 6.6 times more than electric train travel. (p. 72)
  • U.S. public transport use in the first quarter of 2006 was more than 4 percent higher than a year earlier. (p. 79)
  • Between 2000 and 2005, voters in 33 U.S. states approved 70 percent of transport ballot measures, generating more than $70 billion, much of it for public transportation. (p. 84)
  • Air pollution dropped by 39 percent in Delhi after all buses were required to use compressed natural gas (CNG) as a result of a suit brought against the Indian government. By 2006, some 80,000 CNG vehicles were registered in Delhi, including all public buses and mini-taxis. (p. 74)


Energizing Cities

  • Nearly one-fifth of the estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide who lack access to electricity and other modern energy services live in the world’s cities. (p. 93)
  • Globally, buildings account for more than 40 percent of total energy use. (p. 93)
  • China now leads the world in the manufacture and use of solar thermal systems, and Shanghai is a hotbed for solar energy. (p. 97) About 250,000 Chinese work in the solar industry. (p. 100)
  • Some 650 local governments worldwide participate in the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. (p. 103)


Reducing Natural Disaster Risk in Cities

  • The number of people affected by natural disasters jumped from 177 million a year on average in the late 1980s to 270 million annually since 2001—a more than 50 percent increase. (p. 113)
  • Eight of the world’s 10 most populous cities sit on or near earthquake faults, and 6 of the 10 are vulnerable to storm surges. (p. 115)
  • Economic losses worldwide from natural disasters in the 1990s could have been reduced by $280 billion if an estimated $40 billion had been invested in preventative measures. (p. 122)
  • Only 1–3 percent of households in low- and middle-income countries carry insurance against natural disasters, compared with 30 percent in high-income countries. (p. 125)


Charting a New Course for Urban Public Health

  • In poorer countries, urban areas often have the worst of all worlds, as the infectious diseases of deep poverty and the so-called “diseases of modernity” present a double burden. (p. 136)
  • Urban air pollution kills an estimated 800,000 people each year, roughly half of them in China (p. 138)
  • Each year, traffic accidents kill about 1.2 million people and injure up to 50 million more. (p. 139)
  • From Peru to India, localities have improved human and environmental health by paying attention to the views of their poorest citizens. (pp. 142–43)


Strengthening Local Economies

  • The Emilia Romagna region of northern Italy has more than 15,000 cooperatives, which contribute over one-third of the region’s GDP. (p. 157)
  • By the end of 2004, 3,164 microcredit institutions had reached more than 92 million clients, nearly 84 percent of them women. 
  • Worldwide, there are more than 157 million credit union members in 92 countries. (pp. 159–61)
  • Sales of fair trade products jumped 56 percent from 1997 to 2004, to 125,596 tons. (p. 163)


Fighting Poverty and Environmental Injustice in Cities

  • For decades, governments have struggled to limit urbanization and halt the growth of cities. In a 2005 study of 164 countries, 70 percent aimed to slow migration from rural to urban areas. (p. 176)
  • Over the last two decades, federations of urban poor have emerged from the grassroots. Shack/Slum Dwellers International, an umbrella group of such federations, now encompasses more than a dozen countries in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. (pp. 178–79)
  • Participatory budgeting, first developed in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1988 to engage the urban poor in setting community-level budgets, had spread to some 200–250 municipalities in Brazil by 2006 and been adapted in cities worldwide.
  • Between 2000 and 2006, the total number of cities with participatory budgets grew from 200 to roughly 1,200. (pp. 180–81)