6 June 2001


Press Release


NEW YORK, 4 June (UNCHS) -- Most 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 United Nations General Assembly, which takes place in New York this week.

In his foreword, United Nations 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 -- the global plan of action adopted in Istanbul five years ago.

At the launching, Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, the Executive Director of Habitat, stated that the report presented the United Nations with an additional tool to monitor urban conditions and trends.  "In the report, we have tried to differentiate between national development and urban development, which helps us make policy recommendations based on city data.  This is a significant step forward in United Nations 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," she said.

The 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 countries.

-- The right to adequate housing is recognized by 70 per cent of the world's countries.

-- The Arab States region provides the greatest protection against forced evictions.

-- Informal 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.

-- Municipalities in highly industrialized countries obtain an average of $2906 per capita in revenue per year.  This figure is almost 200 times the average revenue obtained by African municipalities, which is approximately $14 per capita per year.

The State of the World's Cities Report notes that cities are the main players in the global economy, yet manage to capture only a small percentage of national revenue each 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.

Employing, among other resources, 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 Habitat to track regional, national and city level progress.

The 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.

Easy 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 United Nations in recent years.

State of the World's Cities Report 2001

Published by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat),

Nairobi, 2001

ISBN 92-1-131476-3


To order State of the World's Cities Report 2001, contact UNCHS regional or

information/liaison offices, or write directly to:

UNCHS (Habitat)

Publications Unit

P.O. Box 30030

Nairobi, Kenya


Web site:

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Sharad Shankardass, Spokesperson or Ms. Zahra A. Hassan, Media & Press

Relations Unit, UNCHS (Habitat), tel: (254 2) 623153, fax:  (254 2) 624060,

e-mail:, Web site:

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For information media. Not an official record.