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. 

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Philip E. Karp

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

Peter Ellis

Lead Urban Economist

Barjor Mehta

Lead Urban Specialist

January 04, 2018

Compared with medium-sized cities, megacities play an increasingly important role in the rapid urbanization process in China. Owing to the expanding scale of large cities, urban sprawl leads to unsustainable practices that cause ecological, social, and environmental problems. we can use the SLEUTH model to simulate the implementation scenarios of future urban growth.Using the scientific simulation data of the model, we contrasted the alternative futures of the two planning types(Urban planning and land use planning) for local government decision makers to achieve sustainable urban planning. China is using this model in their various provinces.The local government depends on urban planning and land use planning to manage urban growth. The urban and rural planning law is formulated to strengthen urban and rural planning administration; harmonize urban and rural spatial layout; improve people׳s living environment and promote the integrated, harmonious, and sustainable development of urban and rural society and economy. Most construction activities follow urban and rural planning. However, this situation leads to current development problems in large cities in terms of the following aspects. First, the urban planning is periodically affected by leadership changes. Second, the changing adjustment of administrative area influences the sequence of construction. Third, the management and control objectives of land use are not the same in different administrative sections. Fourth, the inflexible management system cannot adapt to the economic and social development of the expanded city.

Philip E. Karp
January 05, 2018

Thank you for your comments and for sharing information regading the SLEUTH model.
Planning for urban areas is indeed a complex process and tools such as the one you describe can be very useful to practitioners.