Report: Sprawl Threatens to Swallow the Planet

By 2030, cities will have tripled in size since 2000. Unmanaged, incessant growth is threatening the planet, according to a new report from the World Resources Institute.

1 minute read

February 5, 2019, 2:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Lagos, Nigeria. | Ayotography / Shutterstock

The World Resources Institute released its “Upward and Outward Growth: Managing Urban Expansion for More Equitable Cities in the Global South” report last week, complicating the narrative of urbanization as a vertical process.

"Metropolises aren’t simply building up, they’re expanding out, and doing both at unprecedented rates that have serious consequences for the economy and the environment," writes Patrick Sisson to explain his take on the new report.

To complete the study, "[r]esearchers examined growth patterns for nearly 500 urban areas, using satellite imagery and radar data to measure growth vertically and horizontally," according to Sisson. "The results suggest land-use and density may be one of the defining issues of the next few decades."

The report puts the onus on cities in the Global South to plan a more sustainable future—although efforts of cities like London and Paris to cut emissions is also given credit for making a difference.

Friday, February 1, 2019 in Curbed

stack of books

Planetizen’s Top Planning Books of 2023

The world is changing, and planning with it.

November 24, 2023 - Planetizen Team

Close-up of 'Red Line Subway Entry' sign with Braille below and train logo above text in Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago Red Line Extension Could Transform the South Side

The city’s transit agency is undertaking its biggest expansion ever to finally bring rail to the South Side.

November 24, 2023 - The Architect's Newspaper

Diagram of visibility at urban intersection.

How ‘Daylighting’ Intersections Can Save Lives

Eliminating visual obstructions can make intersections safer for all users.

November 27, 2023 - Strong Towns

People walking on paved path in green city park with trees and tall city skyscrapers in background.

Green Spaces Benefit Neighborhoods—When Residents can Reach Them

A study comparing green space and walkability scores found that, without effective access to local parks, residents of greener neighborhoods don’t reap the health benefits.

December 3 - American Heart Association News

Aerial view of Eugene, Oregon at dusk with mountains in background.

Eugene Ends Parking Minimums

In a move that complies with a state law aimed at reducing transportation emissions, Eugene amended its parking rules to eliminate minimum requirements and set maximum parking lot sizes.

December 3 - NBC 16

White, blue, and red Chicago transit bus at an urban bus station with shelter.

Chicago Announces ‘Better Streets for Buses’ Plan

The plan establishes a ‘toolkit’ of improvements to make the bus riding experience more reliable, comfortable, and accessible.

December 3 - City of Chicago

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

"Rethinking Commuter Rail" podcast & Intercity Bus E-News

Chaddick Institute at DePaul University

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.