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New research ranks world’s most ‘fragile cities’


Here’s a list that no city wants to be on. New research ranks municipalities according to their inability — or unwillingness — to provide residents with essential services.

Robert Muggah writes for the World Economic Forum that the data is designed to help mayors, urban planners, businesses and community groups assess the capabilities and shortcomings of cities.

The pace of urbanization, income disparity and youth employment levels are among the factors that can impact a city’s ranking, the article says. Among the key findings: while at-risk cities are clustered in the developing world, they are not limited to it. There are twice as many fragile cities outside war zones than in them, the data show. And while big cities such as Baghdad, Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, Karachi, Lagos and Shanghai are among the most fragile cities, dozens more small- and mid-sized cities also are vulnerable. 

Muggah is research director for the Rio-based Igarapé Institute, which teamed with the United Nations University, World Economic Forum and World Bank, among others, on the project. The data reflect more than 2,137 cities with populations of at least 250,000.

“The good news is that city fragility is not permanent,” Muggah emphasizes. He notes that some once-dangerous cities reinvented themselves with inclusive planning, increased job opportunity and disaster mitigation.

World Economic Forum

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