In 2008, for the first time, the world’s urban population exceeded its rural population. According to theUnited Nations estimates, urbanization will grow from about 50 percent of the world’s population today to about 60 percent by 2030. More importantly, urbanization – and its accompanying pressures – will not be evenly distributed. As illustrated in Figure 1, the urban population as the percentage of the total population has grown around the world over the last three decades; however, the urban population as a percentage of total population has risen more quickly in Latin America & the Caribbean the Middle East & North Africa, and East Asia and the Pacific.
More than 90 percent of projected urban growth will continue to occur in developing nations, fueled by increasing population and rural to urban migration.
Researchers note that, traditionally, the largest drivers of urbanization are primarily natural disasters (and increasingly ecological degradation). War and conflict have also caused populations to flee into urban areas. Climate change and the increasing desertification of once-arable lands have also fueled rural to urban movements in recent years, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Certainly, urbanization may be the result of conflict. But it is also the case that urbanization may be associated with poor security conditions in countries. The (rapid) movement of people from rural areas to more urban (or even peri-urban) cities may exacerbate underlying ethnic and religious tensions, place pressures on weak infrastructure that is already being pushed beyond capacity, increase distributional pressures, and demand governance and better planning from governments too weak to sustain themselves.
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