Cities across Asia and the Pacific in the 21st century have undergone extraordinary transformation and economic growth. They are places of immense opportunities for upward mobility to improve quality of life, dynamic innovations for transforming global technologies, and manufacturing hubs to meet the increasing demands for industrialization, consumerism and prosperity. At the same time, many cities lag in the provision of infrastructure, employment, and basic services to keep up the rapid urbanization. Especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, cities in the region are also experiencing widening inequalities which stunt equitable growth and lead to social exclusions.
The region is home to over two-thirds of the global population with the majority (2.4 billion people) living in urban areas. Many are living in substandard housing, consuming scarce natural resources, polluting the land and water, and emitting carbon into the atmosphere, harming the health of all people whether rich or poor. Asia-Pacific is now home to 17 of the 33 megacities in the world, with one-third of the region’s urban dwellers living in slums, and the region’s urban population expected to increase by 1.2 billion by 2050. These trends will have profound implications for the region’s economy, environment and society.
Liveable and sustainable cities are paramount for the region’s future growth and sustainability. Progressive policies that promote the use of technology, data, and innovation can modernize public services and goods such as mobility, social infrastructure, health and resilience systems, and safeguard the inclusiveness and sustainability of the communities and individuals.
As an online gateway to resources for cities and urban practitioners across Asia-Pacific, the Urban Gateway provides access to a new generation of multiple e-learning courses and materials to support countries and cities in tacking various urban challenges and explore policy pathways towards a sustainable urban future. The Gateway opens door to ESCAP’s various works on sustainable cities.