Humans are engaged in the urbanization project. It began with the advent of settled agriculture some 10,000 years ago, and it will end in the lifetimes of today’s children. At the moment, we’re halfway there. In 2010, with roughly 3.5 billion people living in cities, the urban share of the world’s population exceeded 50 percent for the first time. By 2100, the global population is likely to stabilize around 10 to 11 billion people, at which point as much as 90 percent of humanity will be living in urban areas.
The 21st century will see more urbanization than in all of human history to date. Nearly all of it will occur in the developing world, where urbanization has the potential to reduce poverty and enhance development. Never before have urban areas, and the policy choices therein, been more important.
Founded by Paul Romer in 2012, the NYU Stern Urbanization Project seeks to harness the growth of cities to speed up global progress. It does so through two initiatives: Urban Expansion and Charter Cities.
Urban Expansion: Preparing cities for their inevitable expansion
Led by Solly Angel, the Urban Expansion initiative works with cities to make room for their rapid growth. The initiative is based on the premise that all governments can take simple steps to shape cities that are vibrant, accessible, and affordable. For more about Angel’s work on urban expansion, see his recent report for the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, Making Room for a Planet of Cities, and his new book Planet of Cities.
Charter Cities: New cities. More Choices. Better rules.
Led by Paul Romer, the Charter Cities initiative focuses on the potential for startup cities to fast track reform. By building new cities in special zones, countries can leverage the 21st century’s unprecedented scale of urban growth, generating new options for reform-minded leaders and new choices for migrants in search of better places to live and work. For more about charter cities visit chartercities.org.
Read more about the Urbanization Project at our page on the NYU Stern School of Business site.