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World Bank to East Asia cities: Plan now while you still can

Jakarta is one of East Asia's eight "megacities" with more than 10 million residents. (Stefan Magdalinski/flickr/cc)

A new World Bank report recommends that policymakers across East Asia take steps now to promote sustainable cities while they still can.  

Despite rapid urbanization, there are still opportunities for city leaders to adopt strategies that emphasize poverty reduction, livability and eco-friendliness, the authors conclude. The report is titled East Asia’s Changing Urban Landscape: Measuring a Decade of Spatial Growth.

From 2000 to 2010, nearly 200 million migrants moved to urban centers across East Asia, which includes China, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines, the report says. There are eight megacities with populations of ten million or higher, such as Tokyo, Shanghai and Jakarta, and 869 cities with more than 100,000 residents.

Yet only one percent of the land area and 36 percent of the population throughout East Asia is urban. As a result, the authors say, there is still time to design or reconfigure cities that won’t relegate the poor to informal settlements and leave them without access to essential public services. “Once cities are built,” Marisela Montoliu Munoz, a World Bank specialist on urban issues cautions here, “their urban form and land-use patterns are locked in for generations.” 

World Bank

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