the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat),
Nairobi, 2001 ISBN 92-1-131476-3
by Rasna Warah
United Nations reports focus on country-level analyses
of human development. Now, for the first time, the
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)
has released a report focusing exclusively on city-level
analyses of a wide range of urban issues. The State
of the World's Cities Report 2001 is a first in-depth
attempt to monitor, analyze and report on the realities
faced by urban populations around the world. The report
was produced by UNCHS (Habitat) to coincide with the
Istanbul + 5 Special Session of the UN General Assembly,
which took place in New York in June 2001.
his foreword, UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, refers
to the State of the World's Cities Report as, "a
milestone in the efforts of the United Nations to
build and disseminate knowledge for policy-makers
and the general public," adding that the Report
is a valuable contribution to collective efforts to
implement the Habitat Agenda.
to Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, the Executive Director
of UNCHS (Habitat), the report presents the UN with
an additional tool to monitor urban conditions ands
trends: "The Report is significant in that it uses
the city, rather than the country, as the basic unit
of analysis. This means that we can now authoritatively
differentiate between national development and urban
development and make policy recommendations based
on city data. This is a significant step forward in
the UN's efforts to provide up-to-date information
on the state of the world and how well or how badly
it is performing in various areas of development."
State of the World's Cities Report explores a
range of urban issues and policy responses in five
major areas: shelter, society, environment, economy
and governance. It then takes a look, region by region,
at urbanization trends and issues. Some interesting
facts have emerged:
In 2020, Asia and the Pacific region will host
the largest number of urban dwellers in the world
-- 1.97 billion people, or 46 per cent of the
region's projected total population of 4.298 billion.
Only a quarter of Europe's urban population lives
in cities with more than 250,000 people; half the
urban population lives in small towns of 10-50,000
people, while a quarter lives in medium-sized towns
of 50-250,000 people.
Latin America and the Caribbean is the most urbanized
region in the developing world, with 75 per cent
of its population living in cities.
Lagos will be the third largest city in the world
in 2010, after Tokyo and Mumbai.
One billion people live in inadequate housing, mostly
in slums and squatter settlements in developing
right to adequate housing is recognized by 70 per
cent of the world's countries.
Arab States region provides the greatest protection
against forced evictions.
sector employment makes up 37 per cent of the total
employment in developing countries as a whole and
is as high as 45 per cent in Africa.
in highly industrialized countries obtain an average
of US$ 2906 per capita in revenue per year. This
figure is almost 200 times the average revenue obtained
by African municipalities, which receive, on average,
only US$ 14 per capita per year.
State of the World's Cities Report notes that
cities are the main players in the global economy.
Large cities typically produce a significant share
of the Gross Domestic Product of countries, yet manage
to capture only a small percentage of national revenue
per year. This, suggests the Report, has significant
ramifications for urban development. The Report touches
on urban poverty and how liberalized trade and finance,
without proper safeguards, make urban populations
everywhere more vulnerable to external shocks.
among other resources, UNCHS (Habitat)'s Urban Indicators
and Best Practices databases, the Report makes regional
comparisons of city-level analyses and data, and introduces,
for the first time, the City Development Index,
a tool developed by UNCHS (Habitat) to track regional,
national and city level progress.
central message of the State of the World's Cities
Report is that people's processes and initiatives
and enabling governing structures must unite to form
broad-based partnerships that will promote justice,
equity and sustainability in cities. The Report concludes
that a country's global success rests on local shoulders:
for the good of all citizens, city and state must
become political partners rather than competitors.
Most importantly, if accommodation requires new political
arrangements, institutional structures or constitutional
amendments, it is never too late -- or too early --
to begin making changes.
to read and beautifully illustrated with photos, graphs
and tables, the State of the World's Cities Report
2001 will make a valuable addition to any reference
library and will appeal to all those interested in
making our cities work. It is undoubtedly one of the
most significant publications to come out of the UN
in recent years.
order State of the World's Cities Report 2001,
contact UNCHS regional or information/liaison offices,
or write directly to:
UNCHS (Habitat) Information,
Communication and Advocacy Section
P.O. Box 30030 Nairobi, Kenya
Web site: www.unchs.org