044_G19_Arena

Global

Arena Politics Make way for the mayor As urban areas grow in size and importance, mayors could find themselves with more power than heads of government Stephen Cole I grew up in Solihull in the English Midland county of Warwickshire. The town’s motto is ‘Urbs in Rure’ – translated from the Latin it means ‘city in country’. It was a prescient choice of slogan in the 1930s. A century ago, less than five per cent of the world’s population lived in cities. Today, more than half the world’s population is moving from the country to live in urban areas. In the last 20 years, the urban population of the developing world has grown by an average of three million people per week. By 2050 it will have reached 70 per cent, representing 6.4 billion people. Most of the growth will be taking place in the developing world and it’s estimated that Asia will host 63 per cent of the global urban population, or 3.3 billion people, by 2050. The world as a whole is experiencing a massive population boom and wholesale migration from country to town. And those twin trends are presenting vast logistical challenges in terms of housing, food, power and water. One of the areas where that impact will be felt earliest is the Middle East. It is right in the middle of one of the biggest demographic shifts the world has ever seen. According to UN projections, the population of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will reach 430 New York City Hall: Mayor Bill de Blasio has a bigger budget to spend each year than some small countries four 44 l www.global -br ief ing.org th quar ter 2014 global


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