State of the World 2007: Our Urban Future

“ of the most critical resources for understanding the problems facing our planet and their possible solutions. It’s an excellent piece of work.”
—Alex Steffen, Worldchanging

In 2008, half of the Earth’s population will live in urban areas, marking the first time in history that humans are an urban species. State of the World 2007: Our Urban Future examines changes in the ways cities are managed, built, and lived in that could tip the balance towards a healthier and more peaceful urban future.

The PDF version(s) of State of the World 2007 include "Geotag" links to satellite photos with additional information for 26 locations around the globe.

Large Cover View, Press Release, Notable Trends, Author Bios, Urbanization Links and Resources

If global development priorities are not reassessed to account for massive urban poverty, well over half of the 1.1 billion people projected to join the world’s population between now and 2030 may live in under-serviced slums. Additionally, while cities cover only 0.4 percent of the Earth’s surface, they generate the bulk of the world’s carbon emissions, making cities key to alleviating the climate crisis, notes the report.

As recently as a century ago, the vast majority of the world’s people lived in rural areas, but by sometime next year more than half of all people will live in urban areas. Over 60 million people—roughly the population of France—are now added to the planet’s burgeoning cities and suburbs each year, mostly in low-income urban settlements in developing countries.

Unplanned and chaotic urbanization is taking a huge toll on human health and the quality of the environment, contributing to social, ecological, and economic instability in many countries. Of the 3 billion urban dwellers today, 1 billion live in “slums,” defined as areas where people cannot secure key necessities such as clean water, a nearby toilet, or durable housing. An estimated 1.6 million urban residents die each year due to lack of clean water and sanitation as a result.

While no single set of “best practices” would enable all cities to successfully address the challenges of poverty and environmental degradation, State of the World 2007 focuses on areas where urban leadership can have huge benefits for the planet and human development. These include providing water and sanitation services to the urban poor, bolstering urban farming, and improving public transportation. Additionally, the report recommends devoting more resources to information gathering on urban issues so that city, national, and international entities can better assess development priorities.

State of the World 2007 includes in-depth case studies—CityScapes—of the following cities:          

Timbuktu, Mali: Greening the Hinterlands
Loja, Ecuador: Ecological and Healthy City
Lagos, Nigeria: Collapsing Infrastructure
Freetown, Sierra Leone: Urban Farms After a War
Los Angeles, U.S.A.: End of Sprawl
Melbourne, Australia: Reducing a City’s Carbon Emissions
Rizhao, China: Solar-Powered City
Malmö, Sweden: Building a Green Future
Jakarta, Indonesia: River Management
Mumbai, India: Policing by the People
Nairobi, Kenya: Life in Kibera
Petra, Jordan: Managing Tourism
Brno, Czech Republic: Brownfield Redevelopment