UN: Number of City-Dwellers to Double by 2050

An estimated 96% of the urban growth expected to occur in developing countries

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About 3.5 billion people across the globe live already live in cities — and the director of the United Nation’s Human Settlement Program says that population will grow by 2.5 to 3 billion people by 2050.

The U.N.’s Joan Clos said at a news conference for the upcoming World Urban Forum that the urban population will continue to grow, with 96% of that growth occurring in developing countries.

“In all human history we have reached 3.5 billion of urban settlers, and in the next 30 years we are going to have 3 billion more,” Clos said. “Imagine the changing rate — what we have done in all human history, we nearly will do in the next 30 to 40 years of history.”

Clos warned that if local and national governments fail to provide the proper resources to new urbanites the slum population will continue to increase as well. The main challenge facing policymakers, Clos said according to the Associated Press, is whether or not city growth can be handled “in a planned and designed madder, in order to provide some basic services at affordable costs for the citizen.”

The U.N. estimates the world’s slum population rose from 650 million in 1990 to 863 million in 2012.

[Associated Press]