Cities Now Contain Over Half the World’s Population

Hot summer days can often be sticky and miserable in an urban heat island.  Dark surfaces, lack of shade trees and climate-driven heat events mean higher summer temperatures and prolonged heat waves.  Add to that the growing population in many of the world’s mega-cities, and winter weather is looking better and better!

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division just released their World Urbanization Prospects report for 2014.  Over half the world’s population are now living in urban settings.  Some of the reports key facts:

Globally, more people live in urban areas than in rural areas, with 54 per cent of the world’s population residing in urban areas in 2014. In 1950, 30 per cent of the world’s population was urban, and by 2050, 66 per cent of the world’s population is projected to be urban.

Today, the most urbanized regions include Northern America (82 per cent living in urban areas in 2014), Latin America and the Caribbean (80 per cent), and Europe (73 per cent). In contrast, Africa and Asia remain mostly rural, with 40 and 48 percent of their respective populations living in urban areas. All regions are expected to urbanize further over the coming decades. Africa and Asia are urbanizing faster than the other regions and are projected to become 56 and 64 per cent urban, respectively, by 2050.

Close to half of the world’s urban dwellers reside in relatively small settlements of less than 500,000 inhabitants, while only around one in eight live in the 28 mega-cities with more than 10 million inhabitants.

Combine these population trends with rising world temperatures, and it’s clear that urban heat island mitigation is becoming more and more urgent.