A trend towards “mega-regions” helped the world pass a tipping point—more half the world’s people now live in cities.
The world’s mega-cities are merging to form vast ‘mega-regions’ which may stretch hundreds of kilometers across counties and be home to more than 100 million people. The biggest mega-regions, which are at the forefront of the rapid urbanization sweeping the world, are:
Hong Kong-Shenhzen-Guangzhou, China—120 million people
Nagoya-Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe, Japan—expected 60 million people by 2015
Rio de Janeiro-Sao Paolo region, Brasil—43 million people
The same trend on an even larger scale is seen in fast-growing ‘urban corridors’:
West Africa: 600km of urbanization linking Nigeria, Benin, Togo and
Ghana, and driving the entire region’s economy;
India: From Mumbai to Dehli;
East Asia: Four connected megalopolises and 77 separate cities of over 200,000 people each occur from Beijing to Tokyo via Pyongyang and Seoul.
Implications from IFTF:
The UN report  indicated this trend is likely to continue, with 70% of the world’s population living in cities by 2050. It also noted that it will affect rich and poor countries differently: “Only 14% of people in rich countries will live outside cities, 33% in poor countries.”
It also seems likely that power will become even more concentrated in these “mega-regions” in the future. The same report noted that “top 40 mega-regions” are home to 18% of the world’s population, but account for 66% of all economic activity and about 85% of technological and scientific innovation.”
The study’s co-author claims that most of the wealth in rural areas already comes from money that people in urban areas send back.
Though the report seems optimistic these industrial corridors will lead to regional economic growth, it notes the danger of “unbalanced regional development” if capital cities strengthen ties to each other rather than allowing for “more diffused spatial development.”
The Millenium Project, South African Node, March 2010, page 10:
State of the World’s Cities 2008/2009:
The Guardian, March 22, 2010: