Higher-density cities key to better urban life: UN
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The United Nations (UN) has advice for city planners around the world: Move people closer together.
Designing more compact, higher-density cities is key to improving the well-being of the world's burgeoning urban population, said Undersecretary-General Joan Cloas, the executive director of UN Habitat and a former mayor of Barcelona.
He said too many cities are characterised by urban sprawl that make it harder for people to get around and get access to basic services, especially in vast slums where the poor live far away from their jobs, medical services and food stores. Growing suburbs, meanwhile, discourage the use of public transportation, biking and walking, which in turns contributes to pollution through reliance on cars. And mega-cities are encroaching on farm land and environmentally sensitive areas.
Mr Clos said the world's average urban population density is "extremely low" at an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 inhabitants per square kilometre. For comparison, he said Manhattan has a population density of 56,000 inhabitants per square kilometre. In the world's highest-density city, Hong Kong, he said the figure is 96,000.