In the next few posts, I will be writing about urban ecology. Specifically, I will be introducing it as a field and discussing its history and why we really need it as a field. What interests me even more than the general idea of urban ecology is the study of urban ecology in developing and underdeveloped countries.
But before we can even think about urban ecology, sustainability, or anything of the sort, we need to know what the pattern of urban growth is, globally and in certain parts of the world. Here are a few facts to keep in mind:
- At the beginning of the 20th century, less than 10% of the world’s population was concentrated in urban areas. By 2025, we expect 66% of the world’s population to be urban. The growth is expected to concentrate in developing and underdeveloped nations. (1)
- Almost 32% of the world’s urban population lives in informal settlements, the majority of which are located in the developing world. (2) The top three proportions of urban residents in informal settlements are: (1) sub-Saharan Africa (71.9%), (2) South-Central Asia (58%), and (3) East Asia (36.4%). Other parts of Asia and Africa follow, in addition to parts of South and Central America.
It’s safe to say that future generations are going to be predominantly urban. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, I will convince you that urban ecology is crucial to understanding how cities work. By understanding how they work, we can make them more sustainable and promote environmental and social justice.
- UN. 2009. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2009 Revision. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. http://esa.un.org/unpd/wup/index.htm (accessed April 2013).
- Vega, A.Z. 2010. An urban ecology for the developing world. Submitted for Master’s Degree in Natural Resources, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.