Urban areas are expected to triple in size between 2000 and 2030. Assuming constant annual rates of growth, this would mean that we expect urban areas to increase in size by 80 percent between 2018 and 2030.
New analysis of the upward and outward growth of 499 cities over time confirms that the challenges of rapid outward expansion are greatest in lower-income cities that have weak planning and land governance and less mature financial markets.
Unmanaged urban expansion increases the costs of service provision, deepens spatial inequities, and imposes heavy economic and environmental burdens. This paper highlights three key equity challenges linked to rapid outward expansion in cities of the global South: distorted land markets, deficient services in growing areas, and disjointed informal expansion.
We highlight three strategies to address these challenges: prioritize spatial equity over land speculation through regulations and incentives, incrementally increase the supply of serviced land with partnerships to finance core services, and integrate existing informal settlements while creating affordable density.
As land-use policy changes play out over long time frames, urgent strategic action led by the public sector is crucial to steer urban growth in a way that enhances equitable access and brings economic and environmental benefits to the whole city.
The fifth thematic paper of WRI’s flagship World Resources Report (WRR), “Towards a More Equal City,” is the result of a collaboration between the Seto Lab for Urbanization and Global Change at Yale University and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.
Towards a More Equal City is a series of 16 papers that examines if equitable access to core urban services can help achieve higher economic productivity and better environmental quality for the city. Visit citiesforall.org for more.
Mahendra, A., and K.C. Seto. 2019. “Upward and Outward Growth: Managing Urban Expansion for More Equitable Cities in the Global South.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. Available online at www.citiesforall.org.