United Nations has released its latest report on “World Urbanization Prospects 2018” in May 2018. The report highlights several key challenges which will come in future. According to the study, two out of every three people are likely to be living in cities or other urban centres by 2050. This will increase the demand for resources in the cities and cities will need to look for more sustainable urban planning and public services.



Owing to both demographic shifts and overall population growth, that means that around 2.5 billion people could be added to urban areas by 2050. India, China and Nigeria were projected to be the countries driving global urbanisation, between them accounting for about a third of the global addition to urban population between now and 2050. India will have added 416 million urban dwellers, China 255 million and Nigeria 189 million.



The report also estimates that by 2030, the world could have 43 so-called megacities, with more than 10 million inhabitants. Most of these megacities will be in in developing countries. Tokyo remains the world's largest city in the world with 37 million inhabitants. However, Delhi is projected to surpass Tokyo as the world's largest agglomeration around the year 2028. Top 5 megacities are:

The report highlighted that 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.

Urban growth is closely related to the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. The cities should adopt better integrated policies to improve the lives of both urban and rural dwellers. At the same time, linkages between urban and rural areas should be strengthened, building on their existing economic, social and environmental ties.

Implication for India

Some of the key facts for India are:

  • 52.8% of India's population would be living in cities and towns by mid-century compared to 32.8% in 2015, i.e. more than 750 million inhabitants
  • The list of the biggest urban agglomerations in India – Delhi
  • Delhi will become the world's largest city in a decade. The Indian capital city will overtake Tokyo as the world’s largest urban agglomeration by 2030 and have a population of 43.3 million by 2035The report suggested that.
  • Mumbai had a population of 19.3 million in 2015 and will grow by a more modest 41.6% over the two decades to reach 27.3 million in 2035
  • It will also see Bengaluru overtaking Chennai as the country's fourth largest urban centre and Surat overtaking Pune to become the eighth largest.
  • Kolkata will move down in 2030 to the 16th place from 13th in 2015, even though its population would increase from 14 million to 18 million
  • Kozhikode in Kerala is projected to more than double its population to 5.6 million between 2015 and 2035. Kozhikode will enter into the top 10 biggest urban agglomerates in India by 2035

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2018). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 Revision.