Cities in the 21st century: The transformation of the city of Asia Pacific

At the center of this change is the rapid urbanization of the region. Between 1970 and 2017, Asia’s growing economies outpaced the rest of the world in population expansion and growth, with increase in urban population 3.4% per year, compared to 2.6% in other developing worlds, and 1% in developed economies. The trend is set to continue in the coming years, with the region set to add more than 1 billion new city residents by 2050.

Today, Asia Pacific cities have achieved international fame with Auckland, Osaka, Adelaide, Wellington, Tokyo, Perth, Melbourne, and Brisbane becoming eight of the top 10 performers in 2021 Global Liveability Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit. But in the continent’s low-income geographies, citizens face the world’s worst living environments. In a 2021 ranking of the 100 cities in the world most at risk from environmental factors such as pollution, extreme heat waves, dwindling water supply, natural hazards, and vulnerability to climate change, 99 are in Asia.

Urban dwellers are often most severely affected by climate change from low socioeconomic groups, who may live on dangerous and marginal land, in low -quality buildings that lack flood control measures and control. at temperature. They may also lack access to facilities such as air conditioning and have limited financial buffers to withstand revenue shocks due to disasters such as flooding.

As cities grow, they will often become more unequal as more economic activity pushes up land values ​​and pollution, hurting low -income citizens who are less able to move to better areas. . Even commendable investments can exacerbate the problem. For example, mass transit systems that reduce travel time to central urban areas could also raise rents on routes, forcing lower incomes. residents to relocate. Asian homes have become increasingly inaccessible to most. An analysis of 211 Asian cities found that house prices were less affordable for median-income households. With affordable housing out of reach, many urban residents are living for inadequate housing with limited access to safe water and sanitation.

Despite the breadth and diversity of challenges, the region is inspiring from the past and the present. Singapore is among the most residential cities in the world, but it started off with a difficult start, recalls Khoo Teng Chye, former executive director for the Center for Liveable Cities at the Ministry of National Development (MND) in Singapore.

“In the early 1960s, [Singapore was] rapidly growing and overcrowded, with a lack of housing, many slums, and people in poor, filthy conditions. The Singapore river is an open sewer and has a water ration. I remember when I was a kid, the faucets would dry all day, but during the rainy season it would flood. All the urban problems you can think of, we have them! Today, our population has tripled but the city has become more livable, attractive, and stable. ”

Today, progress is being made across Asia Pacific to become more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive. Cities are already beginning to break the ground to explore new responses to environmental challenges across the region, including using resilience-based environments such as “sponge cities” to reduce flooding and improving air quality, “net zero carbon” new constructions and retrofitting of old buildings to be possible. more responsive to climate, and developing more sustainable transportation solutions.

The use of technology also helps cities address service provision gaps and actively supports vulnerabilities, including the digitization of land rights and geospatial mapping that helps citizens in areas. there is no formal address system, startup apps that address the city’s safety challenge, and technology solutions for health care and support for the elderly.

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