New UNEP Report: The Weight of Cities: Resource Requirements of Future Urbanization

9 February 2018: The Weight of Cities: Resource Requirements of Future Urbanization report was released by the International Resource Panel, an eminent group of experts set up by UN Environment in 2007 to examine natural resource use.

The report calls for a new strategy to meet the needs of 21st century urbanization, one that would result in cities that are low-carbon, resource-efficient, socially just, and in which people can live healthy lives. Unless the world’s urban areas make optimal use of their resources, cities will soon demand far more resources than our planet can sustainably provide, placing a huge burden on agriculture, energy, industry and transport. In the next 30 years, 2.4 billion people are likely to move to urban areas, bringing the proportion of the global population living in cities by 2050 to 66 per cent. The annual amount of natural resources used by urban areas could grow from 40 billion tonnes in 2010 to 90 billion tonnes by 2050, an increase of 125 per cent, if changes were not made to how cities are built and designed.

“There are already far too many people around the world who are already being poisoned by breathing dirty, dangerous air in the cities they live in, and it’s alarming to see that this trend is set to worsen,” said UN Environment chief Erik Solheim. “We can and need to do far better. We can design better cities, where people can walk or cycle instead of having to use cars, where waste is recycled rather than burnt or tossed into landfills, and where everyone can access clean fuels and energy.”