Atlas Helps Plan for Massive Increases in City Populations

Lincoln Institute research guides future of developing world megacities

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a time when the world's cities are bursting with massive increases in population, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy announced the release of the Atlas of Urban Expansion, a comprehensive guide to the past and future characteristics of metropolitan growth.

The companion volume, Planet of Cities, also authored by Lincoln Institute visiting fellow Shlomo "Solly" Angel, lays out a series of recommendations for planning for the world's urban population, which is expected to nearly double in the next 40 years, from 3.5 to 6.2 billion people.

Half of the world's total population already lives in cities. But nearly all the population growth is expected to take place in less-developed countries. Cities in developed countries will add only 160 million people to their populations during this period, while cities in developing countries will need to absorb 15 times that number, or close to 2.6 billion people. These cities are likely to more than triple their developed land areas by 2050.

Increased global awareness is needed to better understand and plan for this massive expansion of cities in developing countries, Angel says. Local and national governments, civic institutions, international organizations, and concerned citizens must make minimum adequate preparations. For example, it is vital that cities acquire the rights-of-way for arterial roads that can carry public transport and trunk infrastructure and protect selected open spaces from encroachment in advance of the coming expansion.

The main objective of the Atlas of Urban Expansion is to increase understanding and help residents, policy makers, and researchers around the world come to terms with the expected global urban expansion in the coming decades. The call to action is urgent, as the urbanization process now underway will be largely completed by the end of the 21st century.    

"Most people who desire to live in urban areas will already be in them by 2100, but by that time it will be too late to act," Angel says. "If the land required for public works or public open spaces is not protected from encroachment before it is developed, it will be next to impossible to ensure the orderly development of cities to make them more efficient, more equitable, and more sustainable."

The Atlas of Urban Expansion is part of a long-term research project that includes a series of related publications and online resources that are available for free downloading on the Lincoln Institute's website: three Lincoln Institute working papers; the Policy Focus Report Making Room for a Planet of Cities; and the online version of the Atlas of Urban Expansion.

The Atlas in book form introduces the project and presents two sets of full-color maps and a set of raw data tables. The first contains pairs of urban land cover maps from circa 1990 and 2000 for a global sample of 120 cities. The second includes composite maps of a global representative sample of 30 cities, showing the historical expansion of their urbanized areas from 1800 to 2000. In both sections, the maps are paired with numerical and graphical data, making it possible to compare cities in terms of their metric values on key attributes of urban expansion. The third section contains four extensive tables of urban, national, and regional data for each of the 120 cities.

The book Planet of Cities, to be published in late August, recommends making adequate room for increased urban population growth, rather than emphasizing containment; adjusting densities within a sustainable range; providing an ample supply of urban land for decent housing; and securing land necessary for public streets, public infrastructure networks, and public open spaces well in advance of development. Angel will present this Lincoln Institute-sponsored research at the World Urban Forum organized by UN-Habitat in Naples, Italy, in September.

About the Authors

Shlomo Angel is a visiting fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. He is also adjunct professor of urban planning at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service of New York University, and a lecturer in public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University.

Jason Parent is a doctoral candidate and GIS specialist at the Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment of the University of Connecticut.

Daniel L. Civco is professor of geomatics and director of the Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment of the University of Connecticut.

Alejandro M. Blei is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Urban Planning and Policy of the University of Illinois at Chicago and a transportation analyst at Pace Suburban Bus, a transit agency serving metropolitan Chicago.

Atlas of Urban Expansion

Shlomo Angel, Jason Parent, Daniel L. Civco, and Alejandro M. Blei

2012 / 408 pages / Paper / $40.00

ISBN: 978-1-55844-243-6

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is a leading resource for key issues concerning the use, regulation, and taxation of land. Providing high-quality education and research, the Institute strives to improve public dialogue and decisions about land policy.

SOURCE Lincoln Institute of Land Policy



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