WIT Press

Urbanisation As A Driver Of Change


Free (open access)





Page Range

95 - 104




293 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


S. Thomas


Half the world’s population now lives in urban areas. Urbanisation has been a rapid process and virtually all the forecast population growth in coming years will take place in urban areas in less developed countries. Research into urbanisation at Arup has been undertaken as part of an initiative to look at Drivers of Change – an ongoing programme exploring issues most likely to have a major impact upon society. There is clear evidence that urbanisation can play a positive role in social and economic development. By concentrating half the world’s population on less than 3% of its land area, urban settlements give sustainability a better chance. However, cities also draw together many of the world’s major environmental problems. It is important to understand the negatives associated with urbanisation and see these in terms of opportunities and chances to do things differently in the future. Keywords: urbanisation, population growth, cities, slums. 1 Introduction Urbanisation is generally defined as the process of growth in the proportion of a country’s population living in urban areas. The 20th century witnessed rapid world urbanisation, with the global urban proportion rising from 13% in 1900 to 49% in 2005. In terms of numbers this is a change from 220M urban dwellers in 1900 to 3.2bn in 2005 – a 15-fold increase [1]. This paper looks at what has caused this change and what it may mean to have half the world’s population living in urban areas – a proportion that is set to increase. 1.1 Definitions While there is general agreement that urbanisation is growth in the proportion of a country’s population living in urban areas, there is less agreement about what


urbanisation, population growth, cities, slums.