Urban areas of the future present the greatest challenges and opportunities to people. Discuss. Introduction
3% of land surface on the earth is covered by urban areas, and more than half the world’s population live in urban areas. 100 years ago, only 20% of people lived in urban areas, and today the number is continually rising past 50%. However, with an increasing number of people taking up residence in ever expanding cities, towns and villages, problems in urban areas are growing more serious, and in the years to come, solutions for the various problems which are evident in daily life in the urban areas must be found – from basic human needs such as constantly available water to issues such as factories causing severe smog. In the future, not only will the challenges increase with the growing population, but the opportunities will also increase inside the developing communities. Each year, the Brookings Institution and the Wharton School of Business cosponsor a conference to address these issues and provide cutting-edge, accessible research on issues unique to urban areas, as well as on broad economic and policy topics that have special applications in an urban setting.1 Urban Areas at the Present
At the moment, there are many problems in urban areas, which will have damaging effects on the social quality of the settlement, the environment, the economy, and the political strength of the settlement.
Firstly, urban decay seriously degrades the atmosphere in urban areas. Urban decay occurs when very old, usually pre-war buildings deteriorate and decay due to poor or no maintenance. This may be because the owners do not have the available funds, or are unwilling to spend money on the old buildings. The buildings might also have been abandoned, or are being let out as extremely cheap, poor living quarters to low-income groups. Furthermore, when these buildings were built, a lack of urban planning may have resulted in poor structure and low durability. The problems urban decay cause are numerous. The buildings in question may be overcrowded with families, each living in awful conditions. The buildings are also often run down and decaying – and this appearance has a damaging effect on the image of the neighbourhood. They are often illegal structures, presenting severe fire risks, and are often unstable. Furthermore, they often have no or poor sanitation facilities, and no ventilation or other home comforts. Also, residential flats are mixed with industrial use causing noise and air pollution, health and fire hazards.2 In these suffering areas, there are often few open spaces, or schools and hospitals etc. meaning residents have a poor quality of life. The streets are also narrow, leading to much traffic congestion. Due to the poor conditions, crime and vandalism rates are high, along with a whole host of other social issues
Secondly, there are serious housing problems, as, due to high population rises from increased rate of immigration, migration, and natural increase, the population of urban areas is booming. Land rents are increasing to very high amounts, and the amount of houses available continues to run lower and lower. Lack of urban planning at the time of construction in many urban areas has also lead to domestic congestion, and mixed, uncoordinated land use in the inner city. Because of the preceding reasons, squatter settlements, or slums spring up around urban areas. These settlements hinder urban development, and detract from the physical attraction of the city, decreasing the environment of the city. Residents also have to endure poor living conditions, and infrastructure is almost non-existent. There are also often no sanitation facilities, causing health risks, and waste which is often toxic or radioactive is dumped in the streets. Fires spread quickly and are...
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