The world’s total urban area is expected to triple between 2000 and 2030, with urban population is set to double to around 4.9 billion during the same period. This urban expansion will draw heavily on water and other natural resources and will consume prime agricultural land, according to a new assessment by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The assessment, which draws on contributions from over 123 scientists worldwide, states that over 60 per cent of the land is projected to become urban by 2030 and is yet to be built. This presents a major opportunity to improve global sustainability by promoting low-carbon, resource-efficient urban development that can reduce the adverse effects on biodiversity and improve quality of life, it says.
The report states that urban expansion is occurring fast in areas close to biodiversity ‘hotspots’ and coastal zones. In rapidly-urbanising regions such as large and mid-size settlements in sub-Saharan Africa, India and China, resources to implement sustainable urban planning are often lacking.
“More than half the global population already resides in cities. This number is projected to increase, with 60 per cent of the population living in urban areas by 2030,” UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme Achim Steiner stated.