In Western Europe, Japan and Russia, it will be an ironic milestone amid worries about low birthrates and aging populations. In China and India, the two most populous nations, it's an occasion to reassess policies that have already slowed once-rapid growth. But in Burundi, Uganda and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, this reality is much more crucial. The region staggers under the double burden of the world's highest birthrates and deepest poverty. The regional population of nearly 900 million could reach 2 billion in 40 years at current rates, accounting for about half of the projected global population growth over that span.
Catastrophe however does not necessarily have to define our future. Experts say most of Africa and other high-growth developing nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan will be hard-pressed to furnish enough food, water and jobs for their people, especially without major new family-planning initiatives. Water is also becoming a main constraint in many regions. the International Water Management Institute predicts that by 2025 about 1.8 billion people will live in places suffering from severe water scarcity.
"Extreme poverty and large families tend to reinforce each other," says Lester Brown, the environmental analyst who heads the Earth Policy Institute in Washington. "The challenge is to intervene in that cycle and accelerate the shift to smaller families."
Several of the world's most influential planners put their heads together at last September's Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting to share ideas and solutions for some of the biggest challenges faced by growing cities. Challenges will be fast in the coming years, but measures to deal with the impending human deluge are already underway. Whether they favored megacities or clusters of smaller cities, all the panelists agreed that keeping population centers close together is the best way to maximize the value of public utilities, mass transportation, and other services that become less efficient in rural areas. The key is creating long-term development strategies and financing schemes that address a city's infrastructure needs and the world's greenhouse gas reduction needs.
Overcrowded bus in New Delhi
New York City subway
Article via The Huffington Post and The Infrastructurist