Two thirds of global population to live in cities by 2030

Two thirds of global population to live in cities by 2030

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) have released their latest report on urban and rural estimations titled ‘2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects’.

The report has found that by 2030 an estimated 2.5 billion people will be living in urban areas, the equivalent of two thirds of the global population. Currently just over half of the global population live in cities.

The increase in urban population will be driven by both demographic change and population growth, with 90% of the growth occurring in Asia and Africa, the report states. The majority of this increase will occur in a small number of countries:

“Together, India, China and Nigeria will account for 35 per cent of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2018 and 2050…It is projected that India will have added 416 million urban dwellers, China 255 million and Nigeria 189 million”

The report also highlights the need for improved and more sustainable urban planning and public services. Large populations and rapid population increase can place significant strain on resources and services.

The report states:

“Many countries will face challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including for housing, transportation, energy systems and other infrastructure; as well as for employment and basic services such as education and health care”

The number of mega-cities are also expected to increase from 31 to 43 by 2030; a mega city has over 10 million inhabitants and most of these are located in less developed nations. Currently the five largest mega cities are: Tokyo, New Delhi, Shanghai, Mexico City and São Paulo.

New Delhi is expected to overtake Tokyo as the most populous city by 2028. Tokyo’s overall population is expected to decline.

In recent years, some cities have experienced population decline. These are predominately located in the low fertility countries of Asia and Europe where overall population sizes are stagnant or declining.


Our Annual AIDF Global Summit returns for its 10th year on 5-6 September 2018 in Washington D.C., United States. The summit will discuss key issues in global development.

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Photo credit: Igor Ovsyannykov

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