Published on Sustainable Cities

How to manage urban expansion in mega-metropolitan areas?

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As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, the number of megacities is growing rapidly. 

Today there are 37 cities worldwide with populations of greater than 10 million, and 84 with populations greater than five million. More than three quarters of these cities are in developing countries. Together with their surrounding metropolitan areas, these cities produce a sizable portion of the world’s wealth and attract a large share of global talent.

These megacities face a series of common challenges associated with managing urban expansion, density, and livability —in a manner that takes advantage of the benefits of productive agglomerations, while mitigating the disadvantages of such high degrees of congestion and urban density.

Moreover, like other metropolitan areas, megacities face challenges of effectively coordinated planning, infrastructure development, and service delivery across multiple jurisdictions.  Indeed, the New Urban Agenda issued at the Habitat III conference in 2016 identified metropolitan planning and management as one of the most critical needs to ensure sustainable urbanization.


Last week, the World Bank brought together urban planners and officials from 10 developing countries’ megacities – Buenos Aires, Cairo, Cape Town, Colombo, Dhaka, Ho Chi Minh City, Izmir, Jakarta, Karachi, and Kinshasa – for a “Technical Deep Dive” on Managing Urban Expansion in Mega Metropolitan Areas.

Organized by the Tokyo Development Learning Center and Korea Research Institute on Human Settlements, the program, which combined workshop sessions, site visits, peer-peer exchange, and action planning, took place in Tokyo and Seoul, two of the world’s largest megacities, both of which have successfully managed the challenge of expansion, although employing quite different strategies and approaches.

In this video, Dr. Tim Moonen (@TimMcities), Managing Director of The Business of Cities; Barjor Mehta, World Bank Lead Urban Specialist; Peter Ellis (@capepho), World Bank Lead Urban Economist; and Phil Karp (@pkarp24), World Bank Lead Knowledge Management Specialist talk about the importance of mega metropolitan areas and how the World Bank is working with them to improve their performance.

Viewing guide: 

1:05 - 
Why is it important to look at the challenges of metroplitan areas? @TimMcities offers three reasons.  

2:28 - Peter Ellis (@capepho) shares how the World Bank helps megacities better address the challenges—and reap the benefits—of urban expansion.  

4:30 - Barjor Mehta discusses how megacities in different countries can improve coordinated urban planning across multiple jurisdictions. 

Related links:


Philip E. Karp

Lead Knowledge Management Officer, Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice

Peter Ellis

Lead Urban Economist

Barjor Mehta

Lead Urban Specialist

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