Climate, Pollution and Adaptation
Chapter 1: Spreading urbanisation and the water environment
Urbanisation is a common phenomenon witnessed in most parts of the world as increasing numbers of people are moving into cities in search of better employment opportunities and living conditions with advantages such as better access to health care and education (Goonetilleke and Thomas, 2003). According to the UN, urban population growth rates have increased significantly over the last five decades (UN, 2011). In 1950, 29 per cent of the world’s population resided in urban areas and by 2010 this percentage had increased to 50 per cent. By 2050, 6.3 billion people are expected to live in urban areas, which will account for nearly 69 per cent of the world’s population. However, even more significantly, by 2050 the majority of the population in developing countries is projected to live in urban areas with a 2.4 per cent average annual rate of growth compared to the 0.7 per cent for developed countries (UN, 2011). Although urban growth rates have been decreasing in most countries, urban population is still growing, adding an ever-increasing number of people to the world’s urban population. Urban expansion resulting from population growth transforms local environments and can dramatically alter local conditions and in particular the rate of contribution of pollutants into water bodies, thereby adversely changing the quality of water. In the context of effective urban resource planning and management, the recognition of the impacts of urbanisation on the water environment is among the most crucial.
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