The world’s biggest cities are already bursting at the seams but according to experts gathered at this year’s MIPIM conference, held in Cannes from 7 to 11 March, they are expected to grow even larger.

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Tony Lloyd-Jones, Reader in International Planning and Sustainable Development in the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster joined an international panel of urban experts, and an audience of built environment professionals, mayors and developers from major cities, to discuss the issue and the strains that this will have on infrastructure, the environment, communities, businesses and economies.

By 2050 it is predicted that 70 percent of the population will live in cities. In 1900, around 14 percent of the world’s population lived in cities, by 1950 this had risen to 30 percent and today it is 50 percent. Currently, there are more than 400 cities with a population of over a million, 19 of which have over 10 million inhabitants. Much of this surge in the next 40 years will occur in and around big cities in emerging countries such as China, India, Asia, Latin America and Africa, all of which are growing at a fast pace.

Commenting on the discussion, Tony Lloyd-Jones, said: Another 2.5 billion people will need to be housed over the next forty years and planners face a number of problems in a rapidly urbanising developing world. In order to avoid the worst kind of unsustainable sprawl, cities should build efficient public transport systems along the densely developed urban corridors. With the price of oil going up, the pressure is on to conserve fuel and energy. For all their inhabitants to access affordable homes, jobs and services, and to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, cities need to become much more efficient in terms of transport infrastructure. Investment in public transport is one of the keys to achieving that.”

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