Six Big Reasons We Focus on Cities

This piece examines why 100RC works in cities. Let us know in the comments why you think cities are the prime place to start building resilience. 

Cities are the key point of engagement for 100 Resilient Cities. Why do we believe that if you want to improve the well-being of greatest number of people, cities are the place to start building resilience?

Here are the main reasons cities are so important:

1. More than half the world lives in cities.


By 2014, 54% of the world lived in cities. And that percentage is climbing quickly.

2. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities.


People are flocking to cities at an increasing pace, with a high concentration of urban growth occurring in the developing world.

Souce: United Nations Report & The World Health Organization

3. More than 60% of cities that will exist in 2050 have yet to be built.

Construction Site, Kowloon District: Ding Yuin Shan, Flickr

The majority of the area projected to be urban in 2040 has not yet been built, providing ample opportunity to build urban resilience worldwide. In fact, it’s reported that in India alone, 70% of cities have yet to be built.

Source: “Removing the Bottleneck for Infrastructure Investments,” ICLEI, May 2014 & “India’s Urban Awakening: Buidling Including Cities, Sustaining Economic Growth,” McKinsey&Company, April 2010

4. Cities have been the center of civilization, life, and knowledge for centuries.

Ancient palace in Persepolis, Iran: Ivar Husevåg Døskeland, Flickr; Design by 100RC

Famous philosophers, academics, and writers have long sung the praises of cities as hubs of culture and creation.

“When several villages are united in a single complete community, large enough to be nearly or quite self-sufficing, the state comes into existence, originating in the bare needs of life, and continuing in existence for the sake of a good life.” -Aristotle

5. Cities are at the forefront of global innovation.

Zaha Hadid Innovation Tower: 準建築人手札網站, Flickr

Cities have become hubs for knowledge-sharing and creativity. More and more people are moving to cities, producing amazing innovations that allow cities to maintain their essential functions despite this constantly increasing population pressure. They are utilizing real-time transit data, creating bike shares for children, and catapulting mayors to the forefront of global discussions.


6. More and more cities are making commitments to address their resilience challenges.

Shots of 100RC member cities working on their resilience.

By forming innovative partnerships with organizations like 100RC, cities are taking measurable steps to reduce the detrimental impacts of the acute shocks and chronic stresses that threaten them, such as endemic crime and violence, flooding, and economic inequality. Beyond these partnerships, cities around the world are taking significant measures to address their resilience challenges. For example, an increasing number of cities are issuing green bonds, and are increasing their investment in public transport.

The world’s future depends on how cities manage a host of challenges over the next several decades. Cities are complex and challenging, but they provide unparalleled opportunities for innovation and growth.

What are some reasons you think it’s important to focus on cities? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Happy Holidays from 100RC!

Head photo, Paul Bica, Flickr