The Value of Sustainable Urbanization

Courtesy of UN Habitat

It is with great honor that Think City is able to sponsor this special edition of UN-Habitat’s World Cities Report 2020 for distribution in Malaysia.

Around the globe, over a million people per week move into urban areas. They are drawn by the prosperity offered by cities, which over the last century have been responsible for a remarkable increase in life expectancy and standards of living. However, this level of growth presents enormous challenges for governing agencies who struggle with the capacity and finance to meet the growing demand for infrastructure and services. 

In Malaysia the urban population is approaching 80%. The country has benefitted enormously from urbanisation including the expansion of a middle-class, and the eradication of slums and absolute poverty. Yet today, it is grappling with the transition from industrial to knowledge-based industries, climate change, pollution, urban sprawl and inequality. The issues we face are similar to those in other dynamic and rapidly-growing regions and it is important that we have sound and practical reference material to guide us.

The World Cities Report 2020 is a timely and crucial body of work. It clearly articulates the value of urbanisation, and at the same time shines light on the many shared challenges cities face including many vulnerabilities tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite issues, a reoccurring theme in the report is that with the right governance structures, planning and action, sustainable urbanisation can drive the push to end poverty, reduce inequity, build resiliency and offer meaningful livelihoods to the world’s population. It is in cities where the opportunity for collaboration, debate, inclusivity and innovation are greatest. 

Over the past two years, Think City – an urban think-and-do tank- have been collaborating with UN-Habitat. In addition to providing chapter reviews for the World Cities Report 2020, we have been working with UN-Habitat staff on a nature-based solutions programme for climate change in Penang; applying the Cities’ Prosperity Initiative to Asian cities; exploring regional housing issues; and looking at innovative ways to finance the Sustainable Development Goals and New Urban Agenda. We look forward to the continuation of our fruitful partnership.

We strongly encourage our Malaysian colleagues to dive into the World Cities Report 2020 and extract and apply the ideas and concepts outlined. We also ask that you share the report will your colleagues and friends outside of your normal networks. If you are an urban planner, for instance, please share it with your peers in public health. Malaysian cities and city-regions will need to be reshaped in the years ahead, and it will require a combination the knowledge contained in this report and multi-sectoral collaborations to forge the necessary changes. 

As a final word, we would like to congratulate Dato’ Seri Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, the World Cities Report 2020 team and the various chapter authors for their outstanding work in compiling what will be a seminal international reference book on cities for many years ahead. 

Hamdan Abdul Majeed, Managing Director, Think City Sdn Bhd

Stay tuned to The Citymaker for more World Cities Report linked content throughout November. You can download and read the World Cities Report 2020 here.