understanding urbanization

BBC's interactive map showing state of urbanization by 2015.

BBC has an interactive feature showing the rapid urbanization that the world has experienced over the last 50 years -and what it will experience in the next decade. By 2015, more than 50% of the world will be living in cities. (See the accompanying article here.)

It is this context of rapid urbanization we must understand to better cope with the issues that face Metro Manila. Understanding how that rapid growth affects our urban conditions - housing, services, schools, water, sewer and the environment - will lead us beyond just griping about the sorry state of our cities to sensible policy, regulations and market-based approaches to improving the quality of life in our cities.

Metro Manila's own rapid growth began in the late 70's when we officially hit megacity status and crossed the 5M population mark. Within 3 decades we doubled that population, essentially adding close to 180,000 people each year to the metropolis.

To have sensibly coped with that influx, we needed to build over 3,300 new housing units every month for the last 30 years. (That's building more than 1 house a day -for over 10,000 days.) Coping with that growth meant our public transportation system needed to accomodate at least 90,000 new passengers each year -requiring 1,500 new buses each year. It is no wonder then that we face such daunting issues now.

And we are set to add another 3 million more to Metro Manila by the middle of the next decade.

The good news is, we are not alone in this problem. There is a wellspring of innovation that we can harvest from the experience of other megacities - from Mexico, to Sao Paolo, to Cairo, to Jakarta. We need to get ahead of the curve -ahead of the growth, by looking at what has worked and what has failed in other cities. Perhaps we can even contribute some of our own innovations to the global discussion.

(I wonder if our cities are sending representatives to the 3rd World Urban Forum next week?)

I hope to explore some of those solutions in this blog.


Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Mayor Jesse Robredo is presenting Naga's experience on participatory governance in an UN side event.

Mayor Mary Jane Ortega of San Fernando, La Union is speaking on energy issues in another event.

Am not really sure about the rest.

I keenly follow your posts, even if they've been getting fewer and far in between lately. Your thoughts are a big help as we update Naga's land use and city development plan.

Urbano dela Cruz said...

Thank you. That is SO flattering.

I am a big fan of Mayor Jesse. (We met once when I invited him to come speak at the Young Leaders Congress that I used to run.) -If I recall, he biked up from Naga to Tagaytay for the event.

He's also got a good city team in place. -i'm planning a visit back home sometime in 1Q next year and would love the chance to visit your fair city to see all the good work that you are doing.

I'm glad Mayor Jesse is back at the helm of Naga. And even happier that Naga and San Fernando are involved in UN-Habitat.

I really believe that our cities and towns will have to lead the way if we are to make significant improvements in the quality of life of our citizens.

More power to you, to Mayor Jesse, and the rest of the Naga City team!

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

I do hope your visit to Naga pushes through and our updated plans are in place at the time - if the timetable holds, that is:)

By the way, can I link up to your blog? It will be an honor.

Urbano dela Cruz said...

I hope it does too.

Please do link up to my blog -the honor is mine. I will include a
link to your blog in my site, in turn,

Quick Links

Notable posts on the metro