Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Regional Impacts of the Global Financial Crisis: the New Zealand Example

Economic blip or structural flip – cyclical downturn or sea change?
Business cycle, downturn, recession, L-shape, double dip – it doesn’t matter how we describe it, economies the world over are in trouble.  Capitalism has a habit of doing this, long periods of more or less continuous growth followed by a major shake out.  Call it a Kondratiev wave, creative destruction, deep downturn, global correction, bubble bursting, whatever; right now are in the middle of a major economic adjustment.
Out of such moments capitalism has a habit of reinventing itself.  From the turmoil, deprivation, and conflict, a new path emerges, a major structural adjustment potentially very different from what went before.  Relationships among industries, institutions, countries, and regions change.  Economic influence and political power shift; governments start doing things differently. 
So what comes next in the global economy?
There are no easy answers to this question.
Perhaps we are moving on path away from oil dependence which will change the way we all live.  Maybe we are seeing the beginning of the end of American hegemony, the sun rising in the east as it sets in the west.
The current crunch could lead to greater interdependence as trans-national governance becomes more pervasive.  Or we could see the opposite: an unravelling of existing economic blocs.  (This is the dilemma facing the EC as it struggles with distortions created by currency union: how far can it risk economic collapse to achieve greater political unity in the fight against fiscal contagion?)
Perhaps the boundary between public and private sectors will blur further – the Chinese and Singaporean versions of mixed economies have stood up to the GFC so far.  Western governments are still experimenting with public-private models of service delivery.  Or, maybe governments will again temper their ambitions to control economies, allowing the balance to shift further towards market regulation.
And what can we say about regional outcomes?
Given the range of possibilities and complexity governments face, we can only guess at what might happen to the distribution of activity within nations.
On the face of it, economies seem likely to consolidate and activity concentrate geographically.
On the business front, the weaker firms that fail under tough conditions tend to be located in lower order centres.  And rarely do head offices take voluntary redundancy before trimming regional operations, selling or merging them, or closing branches.
In government, public sector cuts happen in the regions rather than at the centre where institutional power and decision-making sit. [1]
At the same time drift of the unemployed and new entrants in tight labour markets might favour larger centres as people move in search of work, training, and education.
There may be decentralising influences, though.  Large cities may be too expensive to live or do business in.  Lower cost housing and opportunities for a self-sufficient lifestyle may make smaller centres more appealing.  Slowing migration might reduce the gains of major urban destinations.
Some New Zealand Evidence
The Global Financial Crisis took hold in 2007.  I have looked at a labour market and construction indicators in New Zealand since to assess its impact on regional performance. 
This is an interim exercise, looking at short-term changes at the margin.  It may be some time before we understand the full spatial consequences of the GFC.  Nevertheless, it may have already impacted on regional indicators, giving clues about how this recession will affect our economic geography in the long run. 
The box below outlines the regionalisation used for this purpose.  More about New Zealand’s regional population growth is contained in an earlier posting.
1.       Auckland –the dominant commercial and population centre;
2.       Wellington – the capital city in a highly urbanised region;
3.       Canterbury – containing Christchurch the largest South Island city and several rapidly growing small settlements in a prosperous hinterland;
4.       The Northern North Island (NNI) excluding Auckland –  including fast growing secondary cities and extensive horticulture, agriculture, and forestry;
5.       The Southern North Island (SNI) excluding Wellington –six slower growing provincial cities, small towns, and extensive farming and forestry;
6.       Otago, a small stable provincial city (Dunedin) and growing resort area (Queenstown), plus horticulture, viticulture, and high country farming;
7.       The Rest of the South Island (RSI) – generally sparsely populated with small service centres.

If recession leads to consolidation, Auckland, Wellington, and Canterbury should experience more growth (or less decline) than the rest of the country.  (In Canterbury, though, the earthquakes of the past year will distort trends).
The labour market
National employment peaked in December 2007 and has eased slightly since.  Consequently, 3.2% growth in the workforce since has been absorbed by unemployment, not employment.  Wellington shows this: the workforce was up 8,000 in June quarter 2011 compared with 2007, but unemployment was up 10,000.
Labour market Indicators, December 2007-June 2011

Labour Force
Rest Northern NI
Rest Southern SI
Rest South Island
New Zealand
Source: Quarterly Employment Survey, Statistics New Zealand
The only exception was Otago.  Here, in the lower South Island,  the momentum of a lifestyle and tourist boom maintained some economic momentum.
The distribution of investment
The following charts use building consent data to show where new investment has taken place.
The area of housing consented in YE June 2011 was just half that consented in 2007.  Auckland’s share of the market dropped from 31% to 24% in 2009, although recovered to 27% in 2011.  But this was in a sharp downturn; new housing consented in Auckland in 2011 was just 45% of the 2005 figure.  Even though the pain is widespread, Auckland has clearly  led the way down.
Office, administration and public services
Office and public service building also fell sharply, although that happened later (2009-2010). The area consented nationally in 2011 was down 36% on 2007.  Again, the main centres lost share even as the market fell; Auckland at 33% (down from 42% in 2007) and Wellington at 9% (24% in 2007).
Much the same goes for industrial building.  Nationally, the area consented in 2011 was 58% of the 2007 figure.  Auckland’s share dropped from 32% to 26%.  The RNI, which had previously picked up much of Auckland’s overspill, fell from 27% to 25%, offset by bigger shares in the SNI and Wellington.  All this happened, though, in a sharply contracting market.

Too early to tell?
It seems that the forces of decentralisation have prevailed as employment growth falters and investment in housing, industry and commerce falls.  Most of the country is suffering, but areas with resource and perhaps production cost advantages seem to have done better than the main centres.  They may be where the best prospects for grass roots recovery lie.
This may change of course, as the government’s preoccupation with Auckland as the driver of the national economy has ramped up (although its strategy of major investments there may be undermined by suddenly urgent demands for spending on recovery and rebuilding in Canterbury).
But it must be asked whether a strategy that concentrates economic initiatives in dominant centres will be appropriate for any new economic order that might emerge from the GFC. 
Might we be looking instead at more dispersed or distributed forms of development internationally and regionally than currently assumed?  This possibility is suggested by the figures to date, which belie expectations of further concentration.  Or is all that they really show that in  today's world there are few certainties about the future shape of the spatial economy?

[1]        The recent streamlining of the tax office in New Zealand promise more of the same, with through two tranches of job cuts focused on the regions. This was justified by the Minister because “back room functions don’t need to be performed there”.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Urban Violence Abroad: An Arab Spring and a British Autumn?

Does urbanisation lead to global behaviours?
Treating urbanisation as some sort of homogeneous movement, a driver of an increasingly interdependent world of shared values, behaviour, and prosperity is to oversimplify.  There may be some common drivers, but urbanisation in the 21st century is likely to be quite different from urbanisation in the 20th century.  Suggesting a universal approaches to governing, managing and planning cities is providing answers without knowing the questions. 
The role of the city has to be considered in recent outbreaks of localised or national violence.  In this post I raise the issue of urban violence with reference to urbanisation in North Africa and the Middle East, and explore possible parallels with recent riots in Britain.
Violence and language
Language, like planning, can be employed to make order out of chaos.  The American invasion of Iraq in 2005 was widely seen as the beginning of an Arab Spring, a label suggesting that people in other Arab nations might rise up in some  universal quest for democratic deliverance from oppressive regimes following the expulsion of Saddam Hussein. 
In keeping with this representation, today's images of protest and violence in the streets of Egypt, Libya, and Syria are presented as signs of culture change leading inevitably to western-style democracy.  But it would be premature to assume that out of the current movements will come the end of autocracy, a displacement of authoritarian regimes with multi-party democracy, or a cessation of sectarian conflict. 
Despite deep cultural difference that mean western expectations for Arab outcomes are likely to be flawed, there are parallels between what is happening in North Africa and urban violence in Britain.  Only there, the language is quite different.  The politicians and press are not lauding the people on the streets of London or Birmingham, and the reporting is a lot less optimistic. 
Cities and revolution
Have you noticed how the images of North African protests against autocratic governments are male-dominated, and urban? This is hardly new: think Paris at the end of the 18th century or in 1848.
But today’s turmoil does raise a couple of thoughts.  First, let's remember there is an enduring tradition of inter-tribal struggle for power and long-standing feuds among sects in the Middle East.  Internecine violence predates the colonial borders and post-colonial regimes that seem to be unravelling now.  Despite the increased trappings of modernisation, little may have changed by way of physical struggles for power in a traditionally male domain.
But what is interesting is the way uprisings are playing out today as predominantly urban movements.  Urbanisation appears to play an important part in focusing discontent and making disenfranchisement visible.  Growing cities provide gathering places for growing protest.  They are the terrain for harassment, the platform for violence, and the stage for claim and counterclaim.  The march from city to city, whether in defiance or defence, tracks the progress of civil unrest, suppression, and revolution. 

Social media - uniting or dividing?
Much has been made of the role of social media in mobilising civilians to a common cause, but it can only really give form to popular protest in an urban setting.  Urbanisation may encourage unity among diverse groups opposing a common tyranny. But such unity is likely be transitory, lasting only to the fall of the first tyrant.

Within fast growing cities of the Arab world sectarian divisions still run deep and social media may simply reinforce them, calling brothers to arms to settle old enmities once new protests have finished.
The demographics of growing cities
It might pay to look more closely at urbanisation to better understand the character of today's protests .  Look at the underlying demographics of countries at the heart of unrest and regime change in North Africa, and compare them with, say, the US and the UK.  They:
(1)    Are urbanising rapidly – Syria and Iraq stand out;
(2)    Have large shares of their populations aged under 30 years – 67% in Iraq and 65% in Syria;
(3)    Have higher unemployment – quite possibly much higher given the difficulty of measuring this figure in a consistent way.  Libya appears to lead the way, although some of the unemployment figures are little better than informed guesses.

% Urban55.7%66.2%77.9%67.3%43.4%82.3%79.6%
Urban Growth101.5%65.2%54.3%46.6%45.9%36.2%10.2%
% Aged<3065.2%66.7%60.2%49.2%59.9%39.3%36.2%
% Aged <30 Male51.0%50.7%51.1%50.1%50.9%49.8%50.1%
              Sources: US Census Bureau; TradingEconomics.com; CIA World Fact Book, national statistical offices

How far, it might be asked, is the Arab spring founded on the frustrations of Arab youth?  And can we really expect revolution in the streets to resolve issues of deprivation, dispossession, and boredom, without the revolutionaries first finding fulfilment and making real material (or spiritual) progress even if the short term ends of overthrowing incumbent rulers are met?
The road to this Damascus is likely to be long and divided
The mix of rapid urbanisation, youthful populations, and high unemployment is a volatile one.  Add strong religious, cultural or ethnic divisions and inequality within increasingly urbanised societies and the prospect is for prolonged unrest and sporadic violence. 
While globalising communications and the accessibility of social media may feed visions of liberal democratic regimes and the illusion of increasingly connected societies, the result in North Africa and the Middle East may be quite different from any western ideal.  Revolution here may lead to ways of sharing and exercising power other than those associated with orderly, liberal democracies; or it may simply reinforce the fractured nature of these societies.
The road ahead is not clear, nor it is likely to be smooth.
Lessons for the west?
Are the industrialised – and post-industrial – cities of the west insulated from the frustrations of youth?  Recent British experience suggests not.  The numbers are smaller, and the middle aged and middle class more likely to resist, but urban conditions of alienation and relative deprivation are significant, particularly among young people in large urban areas. 
Deprivation is most conspicuous in cities, especially when economic growth is less assured and the fruits less dispersed.  Almost inevitably, the costs of stagnation are distributed disproportionately along ethnic and generational lines when the economy slows and business and governments consolidate. 
Who’s rioting in Britain?
In February 2011 it was reported that youth (16-24 years) unemployment in Britain hit a record 20.5%, compared with a general rate of 7.9%.  The majority of young unemployed are concentrated in urban areas: according to a 2009 Centre for Cities publication, the 63 largest British cities and towns contain 59% the country’s youth population, but 64% of the young who are on benefits.  Not only that, but a 2010 publication by the Institute for Public Policy Research suggests that half of Britain’s unemployed youth are black.
The television images of British urban riots show a high proportion of youth, and a disproportionate representation of black youth.   While the riots were characterised by the level of damage to property and theft, attributing them simply to criminality (or moral weakness ) misses the role of divisions within large cities.  When distinctive groups of people within cities sit outside prevailing economic and political structures, their collective lack of respect for property - or lives - should not be so surprising.

There are obvious differences between the urban domain in Britain and that of North Africa, though.  For a start, dispossessed youth are a minority in Britain, where a strong middle-aged middle class will rally to support government efforts --- or even to advance their own -- to quell disorder.
So, in urban settings that are figuratively a world apart a common contributor to street violence is an alienated youth.  But perhaps that’s as far as commonality goes.  In the Arab world, youth is a near or even absolute majority; in the western world it is minority.  In the Arab world it appears to be seeking a share of the power in rapidly urbanising communities; in the western world it is seeking its share of the good life in a long-urbanised society. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

What happens next? Changing paradigms for changing cities

So what is the future of urbanisation?
In response to a post about changes in the  global distribution of urbanisation, Mark asked:

What happens now with globalisation? how many business finance centres do we need?
He is concerned that “our city planners seem to work in isolation......Given the next 10-20yrs of stagnant economies, my suspicion is we'll see a shift away from Govt as 40+% of economies, and get back to more normal historical levels. Will those jobs shift out of govt departments in Wellington, to agriculture supporting towns?”

These questions are highly relevant in a year of bursting bubbles –housing and equities – and a halt to income growth inflated by private and public debt, events potentially bringing about a ground shift in how cities work.  This post doesn’t provide answers.  Rather, it asks questions about how we might think about our cities’ futures.
Perils of prediction
Urban planning is flawed by unreliable predictions (beyond any momentum or inertia we might project into next year, or the year after).  Reliance on extrapolation ignores the discontinuities that shape cities from one generation to the next.  Quantitative forecasts may help to structure thinking about the future.  But projecting current perceptions of cause and effect and imposing past behaviours on the future are unlikely to lead to accurate predictions.

Two reasons are suggested.  The first is obvious, but significant: the future begins from a different starting point from the past.  Second, experience demonstrates that the path to the future is shaped by unforeseen shocks.  Some may have been the product of human invention, others the unforeseen outcomes of past behaviours, or shifts to new ones.
Planning failures come not from making predictions, but from believing them, and then enacting policies reliant on that belief.

 At best, prediction demonstrates the consequences of what we think might happen.  Better perhaps to plan not for what we expect to happen, but what we don’t expect.  This is not simply about sensitivity tests, or varying scenarios.  It is about planning to cope with uncertainty.
Missing the big ones
Most outcomes that have affected urbanisation revolve around shocks – destructive technologies, directional shifts, and threshold events – of the sort rarely anticipated in plans.

At the dawn of city planning, for example, who planned for the impacts of a world war followed by a global pandemic?  Who planned in the 1920s for the urban impact of the Depression, or in the 1930s for massive bombing of civilians in cities in another world war?  Or in the 1940s, for the proliferation of cars and consumers in the following decades?
Who planned in the 1960s for the oil crises and stagflation of the 1970s?  Who anticipated in the 1970s the collapse of Keynesianism and the triumph (of sorts) of monetarism in the 1980s?  Who in that decade picked the emergence of China as the world’s driver of global industrial trade and investment in the 1990s, and its impact on both eastern and western cities?  How many planners in the 1990s were talking about the implications for city plans and management of random acts of the urban terrorism we have since come to know? 

And who at the beginning of this year predicted the reach of today’s economic meltdown, and who even now can pick the enduring impact on cities and their residents? 
Who, in all intellectual honesty, can say they know what might be driving cities in 30, or 20, or 10, or even 5 years time? 

Urban Game Changers
The long-term history of urbanisation and urban form is a history of game changers, big and small.  Here are a few I can think of.  There are plenty more.

The biggest has probably been the mechanisation of agriculture (and associated changes in social relationships and political arrangements), freeing up populations for activity other than food production.  In the west, this translated into a work ethic which focused on cities as centres of production and capital.  It’s a process that continues to drive the urbanisation of developing nations.
The development of urban sanitation services in the 19th century played a more important role in public health than even advances in medicine, making cities literally more liveable for more people. 

The refinement of the elevator and mass steel production in the 19th century saw the emergence of skyscrapers early in the 20th.  This supported white collar employment at densities previously associated with labour intensive industrialisation and sustained the central city through the 20th century.
The development and spread of mass transit in the 20th century enabled people to live away from crowded centres and unhealthy work places.  It continues to play a role, supporting the suburbanisation that sustains cities of far greater scale than previously possible.

The internal combustion engine complemented this. Greater personal mobility meant the interstices between fixed transit lines could be occupied by housing, allowing for more efficient public service and infrastructure delivery.  Automobility also enabled work and commerce to decentralise, reducing the externalities of over-concentrated industry. 
The development of oral contraception coupled with women’s emancipation in the late 20th century facilitate big changes in household structures, housing needs, consumption, and workplaces, all helping shape today’s cities. 

According to Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew, air conditioning enables people to work comfortably and productively in settings otherwise unsuited for sustained work in small areas, a boon to the material advancement of much of Asia.[1]
And so it goes on.  It’s difficult to anticipate the social movements, events, and technologies that will reshape our cities.  It is not easy, either, to anticipate how they might alter the possibilities for economic activity, individual, household, and cultural behaviours, or urban form

So how do we respond?
One option is to be more passive in city planning, to retain a capacity to respond to the unexpected by limiting long-term infrastructure and land use commitment to those that for technical reasons we cannot avoid making.  It means writing principles rather than detail into plans, and providing mechanisms for rapidly responding to needs as they emerge. Physical factors might shape long-term directions  but the detail might best be dealt with in the short-term.

Another is to be more active, and promote and invest in the outcomes that we want regardless of the direction the world is moving in.  Such plans, though, should be robust in the sense that they retain integrity in the face of different external events, and do not unduly limit different actions or plans in the future.
Advice on responding is necessarily general: individual circumstances will be critical in determining how cities might plan for an inevitably unpredictable future.  Among the principles that might help, however, are promoting adaptability and flexibility in land use; developing enabling and inclusive rules and regulations in urban plans and policies; and building the capacity and resilience of communities within our cities.  These principles are not often evident in a tradition of planning that uses deterministic methods to view the future and centralised, prescriptive methods in an attempt to shape it.

[1] Cherian George (2000) Singapore: The Air-Conditioned Nation, Landmark Books, Singapore

Friday, August 5, 2011

Are 20th Century Models Relevant to 21st Century Urbanisation?

Urbanisation and material progress

Analysis of the state of the world’s cities 2010/2011 by UN-Habitat focused on the narrowing urban divide, with 227 million people moving out of slum conditions over the preceding decade.  While acknowledging uncertainty over cause and effect, the report notes that:
urbanization ... is associated in some places with numerous, positive outcomes such as technological innovation, forms of creativity, economic progress, higher standards of living, enhanced democratic accountability and women’s empowerment. ... the report calls for policy-makers and planners to understand that urbanization can be a positive force for economic development, leading to desirable social and political outcomes.

The North Atlantic solution
The report acknowledges the diversity of urbanisation[1], making its authors' somewhat singular approach to managing it (more density) incongruous.  Their prescription is based on resisting urban sprawl, reflecting the experience of North America.  They also suggest that sprawl is a sign of “divided cities”, translating into

an increase in the cost of transport, public infrastructure and of residential and commercial development. Moreover, sprawling metropolitan areas require more energy, metal, concrete and asphalt than do compact cities because homes, offices and utilities are set farther apart.

The report denounces sprawl in suburban zones of high and middle income groups and in extensive slums on the city edge.  On the latter, they invoke issues of governance, saying it occurs because
authorities pay little attention to slums, land, services and transport. Authorities lack the ability to predict urban growth and, as a result, fail to provide land for the urbanizing poor.

Can one size fit all?
It is difficult to accept prescription predisposed to a particular view. Urbanisation is not a single condition. Differences in the stage of urbanisation, vastly different physical, cultural and economic settings of “urban” settlement, and different institutional arrangements belie the idea of a universal response or that any particular form is best for all cities. 

Apart from anything else, “western” cities [2] don’t really feature in 21st century urbanism.  Consider the figures.  In 1950 western cities accounted for 43% of the world’s urban population.  This was down to 23% in 1990 and 18% in 2010. UN projections have the figure down to 15% in 2030, accounting for between just 3% and 4% of all urban growth between now and then.
What Size City?
This post looks at some more numbers that help illustrate the diversity of urbanisation – the size of urban settlements. 

According to UN figures,  8% of the world’s population lives in 53 cities housing over 5 million people; 12% in 388 cities of between 1 and 5 million; and 31% in cities of under 1 million. Any prescriptions for urban governance and urban form need to reflect quite extreme divergence between the few megacities and the many smaller settlements where the majority of urbanites live.
The Urban Growth Trajectory
Urbanisation experiences vary, also.  The different national experiences of the past 60 years can be illustrated using ten quite different countries (Chart 1).  By 2010, Brazil, US, UK, Mexico, and Iran were all heavily urbanised.  But the level of urbanisation changed little for the US and the UK over thelate 20th century, while it grew rapidly in the others.

In yet another trajectory, erstwhile rapid urbanisation in Russia stalled after the mid 1980s. 
Chart 1: Urbanisation Trends, Selected Nations, 1950-2010
Urbanisation is accelerating in China, but has flattened off in Indonesia.  It has been increasing steadily in Nigeria and slowly but still steadily in India.

Most people moving into smaller cities
Chart 2 shows shares of growth by city size groups over the last twenty years. (Russia is omitted because urbanisation actually declined by 5.5%.) 

Cities of under 1 million residents dominate gains, strongly favouring developing countries.  They accounted for 90% of urban growth in Indonesia, 71% in Nigeria and 66% in Iran. 

US experienced growth more or less across all size categories, although Chicago went from the 7m-8m to the 8m plus category, reducing down the former.

Chart 2: Where Populations Grew - Cities by Size Category, 1990-2010
Brazil, China, and Indonesia saw significant growth across the most size groups.  There appears to be a contrast within these countries between the centralising influence of few large cities and dispersed urbanisation in many much smaller settlements.

(The picture for the UK reflects a gain of around 1 million people in London -- to 8.6m -- shifting it between categories.  Smaller cities actually accounted for 82% of the net UK gain in urban population, suggesting a duality between the growth of the capital and decentralisation through growth in smaller settlement). 

So where are the big cities?
The US has five urban agglomerations with a population of more than 5m, centred on New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit (Chart 3).  Compare this with China, with twelve cities of over 5m, and five cities of more than 8 million people (Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou); or India, with eight over 5m and three over 8m (Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai).

At the same time, China has 90 cities of between 750,000 and 2m, India 44 and the US 66.  Mexico has 15, Russia 14 and Brazil 13. 

Chart 3: Number of Cities by Size Category, Ten Nations 2010
Primacy – a mixed picture
Single centres that dominate national populations are termed “primate”.  Their rise and fall may be symptomatic of national economic fortunes.  Excessive primacy may increase economic volatility because the contrast between a rich centre and poor periphery is politically destabilising. One centre dominating financial, human, and intellectual resources may also increase national vulnerability to structural decline.

The picture is mixed across our sample (Chart 4).  Mexico City and London stand out.  High levels of primacy are also evident in Iran and Indonesia, but have been easing, contrasting with Nigeria where it is increasing.  It is least pronounced in the countries with the largest urban populations – China and India -- suggesting a strong population pull from a number of state or provincial capitals, as well as a host of much smaller cities.

Chart 4: Population Share of Largest City, Ten Nations, 1990 and 2010
So what does all this mean?
The data confirms huge diversity in the sizes of cities people live in across and within nations.  It generates more questions than answers, though, the main one being whether it is relevant simply to transfer urban governance, management, or planning models from one place to another.  Apart from contrasts within and between nations, it is clear that the west is no longer the focus of urbanisation and is unlikely to hold many of the answers to today’s urban growth challenges.
The evidence also indicates a tendency for urbanisation to take place in small, dispersed settlements rather than mega-cities.  More modest scale makes different demands on infrastructure and institutions.  It may also help manage urbanisation and ensure that benefits can be better accessed by larger numbers of people.  Small cities, sub-centres in large cities, and districts of modest scale may be better suited to adaptable and innovative planning and management than large scale, extensive cities with their more centralised, remote, and inevitably bureaucratic political and administrative systems. 

Very large agglomerations do exist, even if they are not as dominant in the wider urban picture as their size and profiles might suggest.  The question they raise is whether they should continue to dominate national and international agenda for urban growth and management.  Dispersed urbanisation may better reflect the resources and capacities needed to support an exploding urban population in the 21st century.

[1]  The lowest level of urbanisation incorporated by the UN depends on the conventions of individual nations but may refer to settlements with as few as 2,000 people.
[2] Treated here as North America, Northern Western and Southern Europe, and Australasia