Re-thinking Urban Spaces, Antoni Gutiérrez-Rubí

19/05/2016

+ info: Number magazine

According to estimates by the World Bank, 180.000 people are added onto the urban population figures every day. This trend means that by 2050, two out of every three people will reside in cities.

The world is becoming more urbanised as time goes on. Latin America and the Caribbean are not the exception to this rule, but, on the contrary, its most palpable evidence, since these are considered the most urbanised regions in the world with close to 80% percent of their population living in cities. This is not so much due to demographic expansion, but because of the emergence of new urban centres (the number of Latin American cities has grown by six fold in the last fifty years) and by conurbation processes that Latin-American megalopolis have undergone in the past years.

The Global Cities 2030 report predicts that by then, 750 major cities around the world as a whole will account for 61% of the world’s GDP; therefore, many experts advocate a cause-effect relationship between urbanization and economic growth. However, “cities should be considered as more than just engines for wealth. They should be seen as systems in order to improve human well-being”; well, at least that is how it is understood by Canadian developer Charles Montgomery in his latest book Happy City. Urban expansions —which are mainly rapid, messy and uncontrolled— may cause hikes on macroeconomic indicators, but they also bring about the major challenge of making the cities into liveable places. “Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” is one the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and will be a discussion topic at the Habitat III event to be held in Quito next October.