The world is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate, with the migration of millions of individuals to cities and urban centres bringing enormous pressure to bear on inhabitants, politicians, city managers, urban planners and policymakers. At the same time, cities function as beacons of innovation and opportunity that hold the transformative power of positive change and inclusion.
Before this, the challenges are numerous and include providing basic services--such as water and sanitation, particularly for marginalized groups living at the peripheries of cities and other urban agglomerations--and managing uncontrolled urban sprawl. Local leaders also have a responsibility to create equal opportunities for residents to earn livelihoods, be economically productive, and engage in social and leisure activities in a sustainable and secure environment for all, with no one and no place left behind. The challenge of urbanization is further exacerbated by previously rural human settlements that are rapidly transforming into urban centres and small towns, subsequently growing into cities. In 2014, 54 per cent of the world's population was classified as urban. The proportion of the population living in urban areas is projected to reach 60.4 per cent by 2030. As of 2018, an estimated 548 cities have populations of more than 1 million people, and this is expected to increase to 706 cities in 2030.
In 2014, 30 per cent of the urban population in developing countries lived in slums, and countless cities across the world experienced the unplanned growth of their informal structures, housing low-income and poor residents.
This gives rise to urban sprawl beyond the administrative boundaries of most cities, placing basic services and decent employment opportunities out of reach for most slum inhabitants. Helping cities and other human settlements to become liveable and sustainable modern habitats is the global mandate of UN-Habitat. With a presence in over 70 countries, the agency Works with national and local governments in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, to "make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable." In addition, UN-Habitat supports thelachievement of other SDGs in urban areas. The road map for doing so, the New Urban Agenda--UN-Habitat s framework for the realization of the transformative role of cities in sustainable development--was adopted at the Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador, in 2016.