Common Challenges of the Asian Cities

Common challenges of the Asian cities: Rapid expansion of Urbanization, public transportation, air pollution, etc...

As the world becomes more globalized, more and more people leave their village to move to the city for better economic and social opportunities. Urbanization is a result of this trend happening all over the world and nowadays with a higher speed in developing countries. In a time when majority of the human population live in urban areas, urbanization has a significant impact on our society and the way we live. Today, cities are increasingly assuming a leadership role amid the phenomenon of globalization. With the liberalization of the world’s economy, human, technological, financial and informational resources are concentrating in cities. In developing countries also, cities have increased not only in size but also in economic importance. Many cities in developing countries generate a large share of national income. For example, Shanghai, with just 1.2% of China’s population, generates over 12% of China’s GNP. Bangkok has only 10% of Thailand’s total population but contributes nearly 40% to its GDP. However despite positive factors mentioned above, rapid urbanization creates many challenges. Today there are about 1 Billion urban residents, deprived of basic amenities such as water, sanitation, housing etc… if these trends are not stabilized, by 2030 the number will increase to 2 billion. Other impacts of rapid urbanization is the effect on the environment, as human activity increases in the city, the way we use land, forest, water, and natural resources Change. Today despite only 50% of the whole population of the world living in cities, cities are already consuming more than 75% of the world’s resources. Air pollution, deforestation, and similar are some example of over consumption.

Things are changing very rapidly. The mega-trends of globalization, information, and urbanization are accompanied by a host of other changes, each with their social, economic
and environmental consequences. Since most countries are facing with rapid urbanization, this phenomenon can no longer be ignored. Countries also feel the need to tackle with this phenomenon in a more cooperative way. Although there might not be and easy solutions however, metropolitan cities have to be prepared to engage in much more participatory processes where people and their communities are fully engaged in decisions affecting their livelihoods. Improving participatory skills, and opening the door to new innovations and creative approaches to urban problems can be common among metropolitan cities and among them cities of Asia. There are some very critical issues such as: water supply, sanitation, and water resource management; solid waste management; and air pollution. In each area, there are compelling economic, social, and environmental rationales for change. Successful efforts, however, are likely to require significant changes in urban practices and strategies.
Beyond the immediate priorities for improving the urban environment lays the need to strengthen local governments, to implement new approaches to alleviating poverty and supporting communities, and to develop more environmentally friendly cities and improve citizen’s quality of life. All of the policies needed to improve the urban environment require more effective urban governance. That will require not only strengthened local governments but also the involvement of other as well as collaboration between major cities with the purpose of experience and information exchange to further their knowledge on current problems and find the best solution.