Urban Issues in South America

A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found only 76 out of 150 countries have dedicated laws despite evidence that cities are key for sustainable economic growth.

What happens in urban areas is critical to national economic, social and environmental performance as cities generate more than 80 percent of global economic output, according to the World Bank.

They are also among the biggest polluters, struggling to balance growth with tackling environmental challenges as the proportion of people living in urban areas is forecast to grow to 66 percent by 2050 from just over half today.

About 90 percent of the countries surveyed are not taking climate change and environmental issues into consideration as part of national urban development priorities, the OECD said.

“We understand the need to prioritise growth,” Lamia Kamal-Chaoui, who directs the OECD’s cities programme, said at the report’s launch at the World Urban Forum, the biggest conference on sustainable cities, in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

“The traditional ‘grow now, pay later’ approach is not an option because it bears a lot of costs on society and the environment,” she said. “It’s very bad for business.”

The OECD, which has been working with UN-Habitat, the United Nations’ lead agency for urban issues, wants half of all countries globally to adopt explicit national urban policies by 2025. The speed and scale of urbanisation brings challenges, including growing demand for affordable housing, efficient transport systems and basic services.


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