A new report from the United Nations says that 890 people around the world live in regions exposed to at least one major risk of natural disaster.
Of the total 450 global urban areas with 1 million or more inhabitants in 2011 (representing 1.4 billion people), 60 percent, or about 890 million people, face the risk of disaster.
The UN’s World Urbanization Prospects report says cities in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Northern America, and especially in Asia are often located in regions exposed to natural hazards and are most at risk. Major cities in Europe and Africa are the least exposed overall. Only 26 per cent and 37 per cent of their cities with one million inhabitants or more are living in regions exposed to at least one major risk of natural disaster.
Nations in these regions are also expected to experience a rapid growth in population. Africa’s urban population will increase from 414 million to over 1.2 billion by 2050 while that of Asia will soar from 1.9 billion to 3.3 billion. Both regions together will account for 86 per cent of all increase in the world’s urban population. For individual nations, the largest increases in urban population are expected in China, Nigeria, the United States of America and Indonesia. Over the next four decades (2010 to 2050), India will add another 497 million to its urban population; China – 341 million, Nigeria – 200 million, the United States -103 million and Indonesia – 92 million. The UN says this growth will pose new challenges in housing, energy and infrastructure, as well as job growth.
The updated UN report includes geographical coordinates for all cities with more than 750,000 inhabitants. This will allow researchers to link estimates and projections of the population in urban agglomerations to various environmental characteristics, such as proximity to coastal areas, earthquake faults, or climate zones.
Highlights of the study can be read online. (PDF)
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