Thursday, June 15, 2006

urban planet

According to the UN, more than half of the world's population will be soon living in urban cities.
Despite almost four millennia as centres of civilisation, it was only fairly recently that cities attracted more than a small percentage of the global population. With hindsight, the 20th Century was the century of urbanisation.

In 1900, only 14% of humanity lived in cities. By the century's close, 47% of us did so. This change is revealed in the growth of the number of medium-sized cities. In 1950, there were 83 cities with populations exceeding one million; but by 2000, this had risen to 411.

An interactive map showing the expansion of world cities from the year 1975 onwards is here.

One of the most notable effects of urbanization has been the increase in slums and shanty towns. In Bombay, approximately 50% of the population lives in slums. A series on Dharavi (Asia's largest slum) and profiles of few of its residents is here.
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Had borrowed this book from the library, but did not end up reading it.

An introduction to a chapter from the book (which I think is related to above) is as follows,

The bottom line is that a planet of finite resources and increasingly unmet social needs cannot sustain an economic system that is driven by corporate interests and is based on ever-increasing free-trade and international competitiveness. This system can and must be replaced by an alternative that challenges its insistence that all economies be contorted to the end goal of international competitiveness, and its emphasis on beggar-your-neighnor reduction of controls on trade and investment. Economic localisation is just such an alternative. It involves a better-your-neighbor supportive internationalism where the flow of ideas, technologies, information, culture, money and goods has, as its end goal, the rebuilding of truly sustainable national and local economies worldwide. Its emphasis is not on competition for the cheapest, but on cooperation for the best.

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