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THE URBAN FUTURE 21 – Chapter II: Trends and Outcomes: The Urban World of 2025
131
Nonetheless, there are surely some absolute qualities that ought to provide a basis for planning. A city
where densities  are too  low to support an  adequate bus system, even  for  the poor inhabitants  who
depend on it, is clearly not working for its citizens. Yet this kind of development is occurring around
many cities of the developed world, and – even more alarmingly – around middle-income cities too;
people are thus forced on to substitute systems  that are less sustainable,  or into  running  cheap cars
that are less sustainable still. There is an absolute need to say that everyone, rich and poor, young and
old, has a right to mobility.
7.1  Common Problems: Different Stages
There is one key concluding question: to what extent will the urban world of 2025 display common
problems  and,  conversely,  to  what  extent  are  the  developed  and  the  developing  worlds  following
different, even contradictory, paths? We have argued that the same forces will operate worldwide, and
that they  interrelate.  High population  growth  reduces the possibility of  growth  of income per head;
conversely, rising per  capita  income is  in  general associated  with  falling  fertility  rates and so  with
lower  rates  of  population  growth.  In contrast,  mature  cities, with  an  ageing  (and,  in  the  long  run,
declining)  population,  may  display  relatively  high  rates  of  household  formation,  with  consequent
effects on demand  for housing  and consumer durables:  population growth becomes  decoupled  from
spatial needs, which will lead to increasing dispersal from cities into surrounding suburban rings and
at low densities, which will make services more expensive.
Thus there are a number of similar tasks worldwide. We can identify five common global tasks:
 Reduce population growth;
 Increase productivity of labour;
 Reduce environmental pollution that crosses national and urban borders, especially through eco-
saving technologies;
 Manage  the  transition  to  renewable  energy  and  a  recycling  economy;  in  this  context,  reinvent
urban transportation, especially the car;
 Establish a system of more rapid diffusion of best practice in a dense, common international urban
network.
And there are five communal local tasks:
 Establish good governance; further decentralize, democratize and strengthen local government;
 Promote human and economic development, especially through better education;
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THE URBAN FUTURE 21 – Chapter II: Trends and Outcomes: The Urban World of 2025
132
 Avoid local environmental degradation, in part through better provision of infrastructure;
 Promote social integration;
 Build attractive, functional and liveable cities within networks of cities.
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THE URBAN FUTURE 21 – Chapter II: Trends and Outcomes: The Urban World of 2025
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   
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               
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

These common and communal tasks unite cities in different countries and continents, as day by day
they demonstrate their fundamental similarities. At the same time everyday experience demonstrates
that cities vary, and will continue to vary, to a huge degree. The temptation is to say that every city is
unique. But there are typical constellations which can be observed again and again, and on this basis
(without covering  all  observable typical variations)  we can make a basic  distinction: between  three
kinds of city, representing three typical constellations of demographic-socio-economic evolution.
 This is represented by many cities in Sub-Saharan
Africa and in the Indian subcontinent, by the Muslim Middle East, and by some of the poorer cities of
Latin  America.  It  is  characterized  by  rapid population  growth,  both  through  migration  and  natural
increase;  an  economy  heavily  dependent  on  the  informal  sector;  very  widespread  poverty,  with
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THE URBAN FUTURE 21 – Chapter II: Trends and Outcomes: The Urban World of 2025
134
widespread  informal  housing  areas;  basic  problems  of  the  environment  and  of  public  health;  and
difficult issues of governance.
   This  is  the  characteristic  city  of  the  middle-income
rapidly-developing world, represented by much of Eastern Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Population growth is reducing, and  some of  these  cities  face  the prospect of  an  ageing population.
Economic growth continues rapidly, but with new challenges from other countries. Prosperity brings
environmental problems.
      .  This  is  the  characteristic  city  of  the
advanced  world  of  North  America,  Europe,  Japan  and  Eastern  Asia,  and  Australasia.  It  is
characterized by stable or declining population, the challenge of ageing and of household fissioning,
slow  economic growth and adaptation, and social  polarization. But it does  have resources to tackle
environmental problems, if it chooses. Its cities are characterized by very widespread dispersion and
by reconconcentration, leading to the growth of smaller cities and a challenge to the viability of the
older central cities.
All three  types of  city  will  be  shaped  by the  same  basic  driving  forces  that  we have  outlined  in  this
chapter. In the short and medium term, at least, urban policy-makers must accept these forces of change
and  these  constraints as  given;  but  they  can bend  and  shape them,  to serve their  objectives. Here  the
magic of compound interest will help, as small changes will accumulate into major differences. In the
longer  run,  after  adjustment  periods  of  between  10  and  25  years  –  in  particular,  through  slower
population growth – we can potentially shape the driving forces themselves. The political process, itself
one of the drivers, can transform the way the economy and society and technology and culture develop.
It should do this, through twin concepts: sustainable human development, delivered through good urban
governance.
We  have  posed  the  resulting  dilemmas here,  without  seeking to address the  answers.  We  return  to
them in discussing policy questions in Chapters IV and V. Before that, however, we must ask where
these trends are likely to take us in the absence of any positive policy intervention to bend or shape
them. We do this through a ‘business as usual’ scenario. We then contrast this with a scenario based
on the idea that intervention is both possible and desirable: that the trends can indeed be bent.
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THE URBAN FUTURE 21 – Chapter II: Trends and Outcomes: The Urban World of 2025
135
Footnotes for Chapter II
The following sections are taken from Hall (1995).
The following sections are taken from Hall (1999).
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THE URBAN FUTURE 21 – Chapter III: Two Scenarios: The Urban World in 2025
136
III
TWO SCENARIOS: THE URBAN WORLD IN 2025
The driving  forces are taking  the  world’s cities in  certain  directions  –  and  taking  them  there  very
rapidly. Here, we start by forecasting where they will take our three types of city – cities coping with
informal hypergrowth, cities coping with dynamism, and weakening mature cities, coping with ageing
–  by  the  year 2025.  This  ‘Trend’  or  ‘Business  as  Usual’  Scenario  assumes  that  there  is  no  major
intervention by government, either at national or city level, to change the underlying trends. Then, we
pose the critical question: suppose governments act, positively but sensitively, to influence the driving
forces and thus to deflect the trends? This ‘Bending  the Trend’ Scenario represents  the outcome of
positive policies. In Chapter IV, which follows, we spell out what those policies would need to be.
1. 
The City Coping with Informal Hypergrowth
1.1  ‘Trend Scenario’

Deficiencies in knowledge, savings/investment, and production, and the needs of hypergrowth cities
dominate all political activities.

Large numbers of young families: a demographic bomb. Though better social security can reduce the
need to have large families for protection against poverty in old age, high birth rates continue because
of  sexual  ignorance,  superstition,  poorly  educated  women.  Reducing  urban  population  growth
particularly difficult in India, which overtakes China to become the world’s most populous country.
As AIDS spreads, the race intensifies for an effective low-cost treatment for the developing world.
Continued migration to cities. Tripling of urban populations by 2025.
For  most Sub-Saharan Africa: rapid spread of AIDS  among young adult males and females;  big
loss of young working population and growth of a dependent orphan population.

Immigration  of  low-skilled  labour,  plus  high  birth  rates,  produce  long-term  surplus  of  unskilled
labour,  which  reduces  income  growth  and  creates  huge  inequalities.  The  informal  sector  remains
much too self-sufficient and separate, as access to loans or input markets is weak. Division of labour
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THE URBAN FUTURE 21 – Chapter III: Two Scenarios: The Urban World in 2025
137
makes only slow progress. Hard to increase infrastructure per head or provide adequate jobs or homes
or  school  places  (thus  a  human  capital  problem);  survival  problems  of  the  young  generation
overpower all other considerations.
Poor people double in number; women form the majority of the poorest. Life expectancy and literacy
rates increase,  but economic  opportunities for women  remain limited, especially  for  female-headed
households (more than 30 per cent of low-income population).
Struggle  for  survival  in  informal  economies,  local  systems  of  exchange,  with  little  or  no  outside
contact.
The  formal  sector,  still  relatively  unproductive,  struggles  to  compete  on  external  markets.  Under-
education,  bottlenecks  in  infrastructure,  unstable  input  and  credit  markets  result  in  higher  risks,
quality and delivery problems. Integration into global markets remains weak.

 
:  cities  grow  without  a  formal  economic  base;  rising  rates  of  crime  and
violence.
Most  people  live  in  the  informal  society.  Informal  sprawl  is  the  dominant  solution  for
neighbourhoods. As the formal city grows too, cities become even more fragmented and incoherent:
informal housing areas explode out of control, next to formal or even luxury housing.

Infrastructure and services reach capacity, with increasing needs for housing, sanitation, water supply,
waste  treatment  facilities,  and  transportation.  The  poor  pay  more.  But  even  under  conditions  of
extreme poverty, the value of housing and infrastructure in the older more stable informal settlements
grows  slowly.  Most  cities  accept  the  need  to  stabilize  the  legal  position  of  informal  owners.
Techniques of cooperation and organized self-help slowly improve through learning by doing.

Struggle for survival forces inefficient use of natural resources to produce basic goods, from housing
to  food;  overuse  and  neglect  of  the  natural  environment.  Little  concern  for  future  generations.  In
stabilized  areas, slow improvement of  water or  even waste treatment. But later generations  of  new
informal settlements start in substandard conditions, with little or no outside help.

THE URBAN FUTURE 21 – Chapter III: Two Scenarios: The Urban World in 2025
138
Poor city dwellers remain dependent on walking; as cities grow, this drastically reduces their capacity
to  participate  in  urban  labour  markets  and  to  access  services,  and  they  remain  effectively  trapped
inside their own informal neighbourhoods.

 chaotic  series  of  informal  settlements,  at  the  margin  of  survival  both  economically  and
environmentally.  Permanent  threat  of  catastrophe.  Fragmented  appearance  and  fragmented  growth
creates an image of chaos and disorder, which is only slowly attenuated.
THE URBAN FUTURE 21 – Chapter III: Two Scenarios: The Urban World in 2025
139
1.2  ‘Bending the Trend’

Economizing  scarce  resources,  using  them  most  effectively  for  priority  needs,  plus  reduced
population growth provide the key to a more socially- and environmentally-balanced scenario.

More  radical  education  policies,  and  more  aggressive  policies  to  reduce  birth  rates,  reduce  the
population  pressure.  Most  effective:  female  education,  with  postponement  of  childbearing.
Governments and international agencies agree with drug companies to support a major programme for
an  effective  low-cost  AIDS  treatment,  providing  a  model  for  a  more  general  attack  on  health
problems.

Intensified international  cooperation,  plus  adjustment  to  the  needs  of  the  modern  industrial  sector,
allow  faster  growth  and  more  foreign  direct  investment.  In  some  cities,  productivity  growth  in
advanced  manufacturing  brings  a  sharp  increase  in  average  income,  but  further  threatens  the
livelihoods  of  those  in  the  informal  economy. Continued  growth  of  the  informal sector  becomes  a
major  issue.  Complex  strategies  –  decentralized  urban  management,  training,  better  cooperation
between formal and informal sector – improve growth expectations outside the formal sector. Cities
develop effective policies to help formalize the informal economy: strengthening relationships to the
mainstream  city  on  input  and  output  markets  (microcredit,  building  materials,  food,  water,
transportation).  Communal  self-help  neighbourhood  projects,  backed  by  informal  levies  to  pay  for
materials, help to overcome bottlenecks in infrastructure.
Microcredit  networks  play  a  key  role  in  developing  the  informal  sector.  These  networks  increase
rapidly. Poor women benefit most of all.
In some cities, schemes (supported by international agencies) expand mass education, especially for
teachers,  through  cheap  information  technology.  Schools  in  poor  areas  are  comprehensively
networked; teacher-tutors manage the work programme and supervise progress. This brings dramatic
improvement:  reductions  in  illiteracy,  plus  increased  numbers  obtaining  secondary  educational
qualifications and continuing to further or higher education.
Thus,  cities  attract  foreign  direct  investment,  offering  a  well-educated  labour  force  at  competitive
wages. Employment in the formal industrial sector increases sharply; the low-paid informal economy
shrinks and increasingly diversifies into an intermediate sector, with some characteristics of both the
formal and informal economies. This becomes increasingly integrated with the formal  public sector
THE URBAN FUTURE 21 – Chapter III: Two Scenarios: The Urban World in 2025
140
and the globalized trading sector – either directly (for instance by subcontracting)  or indirectly (for
instance by performing services for workers in the modern traded sector).

Most cities formulate and execute  more effective policies  to  improve informal housing,  developing
informal  cooperative  assistance  policies.  International  agencies  play  a  role  at  the  start,  but  cities
become  more  self-reliant.  Basic  assumption:  informal  populations  are  creative,  energetic  and
enthusiastic  to  improve  their  housing  environment.  Key:  simple,  low-cost  planning  of  upgradable
development  concepts,  through  help  to  local  leaders  to  organize  neighbourhood  cooperative
movements.

Private  provision  of  water  and  sanitation  becomes  a  growth  sector,  promoted  by  international
institutions and wide spread imitation of best practice. Key: private provision of infrastructure in the
formal city,  market solutions  for  trunk sewers,  water  mains,  main  high-tension  lines,  plus  detailed
solutions for self-help cooperation in informal neighbourhoods.
Time lags for public sector innovations shorten, through intensive efforts to spread information and
experience. The information age becomes an age of faster diffusion of successful or best practice.

Better  education  produces  changed  priorities:  environmental  goods  and  health  become  higher
priorities.  Progress  in combating  air  pollution  through  availability  of low-emission vehicles,  better
emission control of old cars and better waste treatment. Key: improvements through tight cooperation
between city-wide task forces and neighbourhood groups, assisting these to become  more effective.
High  growth,  a  negative  factor  earlier,  now  becomes  a  key  driving  force  for  more  sustainable
development  and  an opportunity,  as  growing pollution, traffic  congestion, urban  sprawl  and  health
risks mobilize popular energies to  reduce risks and to  improve living conditions. Policies to reduce
pollution and improve waste water treatment gain from scale economies across an entire urban area.

National  policies  encourage bicycles as a  major  means  of  mobility  and  access  for  the  urban poor.
Cities  contract  with  private contractors  to  develop  low-cost  bus services on  major  urban  corridors,
with informal para-transit services filling the gaps.

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