From Mega-Cities to Meta-Cities

RThe impact of cities is spreading beyond local and even national borders, argues Robert Neuwirth in this piece from <em>What Matters</em>.
January 13, 2011, 5am PST | Nate Berg
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Neuwirth discusses the rapid growth of mega-cities like Lagos, Nigeria, and how these cities will continue to grow and interact with an increasingly democratized world.

"The world is moving beyond mega-cities to meta-cities. According to the United Nations' 2010/2011 State of the World's Cities report, these cities of the future will not be single political entities but will sprawl across geographic, regional, and national boundaries.

...Most of the urban centers in these fast growing meta-cities have one very visible trait in common. Each is ringed by dense, ever-expanding squatter communities where large portions of the city's population-and economy-reside. Squatter communities and shantytowns are now home to 800 million people and are projected to grow by 16,000 people every day for the foreseeable future. In the cities of the future, these jury-rigged communities will become normal urban neighborhoods. And places like Ladipo, which make up the "informal" economy, will create the jobs of the future. Already, half the workers of the world-1.8 billion people-are working off the books, in unauthorized street markets and other businesses that are not registered, not licensed, and not counted in official employment statistics. The number of people in these firms will grow to two-thirds of the global workforce by 2020, according to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. This new urban world will be dominated by massive do-it-yourself street markets and self-built neighborhoods."

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Published on Friday, January 7, 2011 in What Matters
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