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Urbanisation: consequences and opportunities for the Netherlands' Directorate-General for International Cooperation

Research reports

Written by Irina Mosel, Paula Lucci, Julian Doczi

​By 2050, the world’s population will have grown from its 2012 level of 7 billion to over 9 billion. Almost three-quarters of these people will live in urban areas. Urban population growth will mainly occur in low and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia, which are currently among the least urbanised regions. Urban poverty is set to increase, with much of this urban growth expected in poor and informal settlements on the peripheries of cities and towns. Much focus is currently on the rise of megacities of 10 million residents or more. However, it is in the small and medium-sized secondary cities of Africa and Asia that most future urban development will take place. The fact that more people in developing countries will be living in urban areas has profound implications for development cooperation agencies and their policies. 

This report, prepared for the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), assesses the impacts of urbanisation on the agency’s key thematic areas of water management, climate change and disaster risk reduction, sexual and reproductive health rights, food security, emergency aid, and peace, security and conflict. It suggests key elements for an urban international cooperation policy for the DGIS. It is clear from this review that business as usual will not be enough. A stronger emphasis on urban development in international cooperation policy will be required.

Irina Mosel, Paula Lucci, Julian Doczi, Clare Cummings, Aditya Bahadur, David Walker, Lucy Scott, Hamish Nixon