By Alanna Linn
In late March 2010, UN-Habitat released its biannual report on the state of world cities. The Report finds that over half the world’s population now lives in cities, and that the world’s mega-cities are merging to form vast “mega-regions” which can stretch across hundreds of kilometres.
With cities likely to continue to grow significantly over the next 20 years, the report highlights the need for planners to find ways of harmonising the spatial, social and environmental aspects of a city and its inhabitants. In particular, “harmony” hinges on the implementation of urban planning and management that is based on the principles of equity and sustainability.
The emphasis in the UN-Habitat Report on harmony and equity reflects a trend in world city analysis identified in a 2009 Geography Compass by Karen Lai; she observed that research into world cities has moved beyond analysis based on size and city hierarchies to more complex and varied analyses. This includes the development of place-based studies that examine the flows and networks between world cities, that re-scale analysis to look at city-regions and global city states, and that emphasise the political and social inequality challenges that face the world’s cities now and in the future.