Urban areas are built-up areas with a human settlement, a high population density and physical and other forms of supportive infrastructure including a built environment. Urban areas are created through the process of urbanization and may be categorized as cities, towns, conurbations or suburbs. The world's urban population in 1950 of just 746 million has increased to over 4 billion. The global urban population in 2020 is about 56.2 per cent and is expected to grow to 60.4 per cent by 2030. The UN World Cities Report 2020 provides evidence and policy analysis of the value of urbanization from an economic, social and environmental perspective, including the unquantifiable value that gives cities their unique character; and also explores the role of innovation and technology, local governments, targeted investments and the effective implementation of the UN Habitat’s New Urban Agenda in fostering the value of sustainable urbanization. It affirms that well-planned, managed, and financed cities and towns create value that can be harnessed to build resilient cities that can bounce back from the devastating impacts of pandemics, improve the quality of life of all residents, and can be leveraged in the fight against poverty, inequality, unemployment, climate change and other pressing global challenges.According to the UN, the world continues to urbanize. Every region is expected to become more urbanized in the next 10 years, although highly urbanized areas are expected to slow their rate of urban growth. Ninety-six per cent of urban growth will occur in the less developed regions of East Asia, South Asia and Africa with three countries - India, China and Nigeria - accounting for 35 per cent of the total increase in global urban population from 2018 to 2050. The importance of cities is enshrined in global development policy: Since 2015, the international community has adopted several key agreements to guide development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Paris Agreement, New Urban Agenda, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and Addis Ababa Action Agenda collectively form the backbone of international development policy, recommendations, goals, targets and indicators for Member States. It is expected that with the appropriate macroeconomic policies, well-planned and managed urbanization can help countries accelerate their economic growth and serve as a channel to global markets by creating productive environments that attract international investment and increase economic efficiency. Cities can have sustained economic growth and higher levels of productivity even as they navigate demographic transitions: From youth booms in the Global South to the “silver tsunamis” associated with ageing in the Global North, cities are undergoing demographic change. The importance of harnessing the urban demographic dividend as well ensuring age-friendly cities that “leave no one behind” is realized more than ever before. It is also recognized that the economic growth and consumption potential of cities must support sustainable development and build resilience to climate change. The New Urban Agenda and SDG 11 place an emphasis on inclusive settlements and provide frameworks for unlocking the environmental value of urbanization for all, rather than for a rarefied elite. Innovation and technology play a multidimensional role in urban areas. Genuine smart cities are the greatest resource as they provide new ideas for innovation, act as the eyes or ears of the city, help monitor conditions on the ground and engage the city more actively in setting priorities. One area where there are many shortcomings is in the capacity of local governments to build capacity to effectively manage, deploy and regulate the use of technology. Cities need to be willing to take a regulatory approach toward disruptive technologies like transportation start-ups, which if left unchecked can create negative externalities like traffic congestion. Cities require access to and capacity to manage data, as well as benefit from building open data and open source ecosystems in line with the principles for digital development. To enhance the potential benefits, cities need to develop open data portals, urban innovation labs, hackathons, innovation challenges, town-gown programs and support for research and local data science. Countries need to create enabling institutional environments to effectively unleash the value of sustainable urbanization: Effective decentralization policies strengthen local authorities’ capacities to pursue sustainable urban development. Special attention needs to be given to fiscal decentralization and adequate financing flows to support urban investments. There is also need to make strong metropolitan governance a key component of new urban governance: National governments should enable metropolitan governance that responds to the realities of economic and social geographies, not just arbitrary jurisdictional boundaries, ensuring the involvement of both local and regional governments in the reform process. Cities require stable, sustainable sources of financing: Stable funding comes when cities have diverse revenue portfolios and improved capacity for revenue generation that allows them to harness tools and innovative financing mechanisms—pooled financing, blended finance, green municipal bonds and land-based finance instruments, among others. Urban areas have tremendous assets that can be unlocked for investments and local economic development. Local authorities must also find ways to link revenue generation with their ongoing urban growth in order for local finances to be sustainable in the long term. Local governments need to be empowered to tap their endogenous potential to innovatively increase and diversify own-source revenues. Unlike an urban area, a metropolitan area includes not only the urban area, but also satellite cities plus intervening rural land that is socio-economically connected to the urban core city, typically by employment ties through commuting, with the urban core city being the primary labor market.In the United States, there are two categories of urban area. The term urbanized area denotes an urban area of 50,000 or more people. Urban areas under 50,000 people are called urban clusters. Urbanized areas were first delineated in the United States in the 1950 census, while urban clusters were added in the 2000 census. The largest urban area in the United States is the New York metropolitan area. The population of New York City, the core of the metropolitan area, exceeds 8.5 million people, its metropolitan statistical area has a population that is over 20 million, and its combined statistical area population is over 23 million. About 82 percent of the population of the United States lives within the boundaries of an urbanized area as of December, 2010. Combined, these areas occupy about 2 percent of the land area of the United States. As per the Census of India 2011, the definition of urban area is a place having a minimum population of 5,000 of density 400 persons per square kilometer or higher, and 75% plus of the male working population employed in non-agricultural activities. Places administered by a municipal corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee are automatically considered urban areas. Urban agglomeration is an integrated urban area consisting of a core town together with its "outgrowths" (contiguous suburbs).National Smart Cities Mission is an urban renewal and retrofitting program by the Government of India with the mission to develop smart cities across the country, making them citizen friendly and sustainable. The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities. The mission initially included 100 cities, with the deadline for completion of the projects set between 2019 and 2023. The Mission is operated as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme. The Central Government will give financial support to the extent of Rs. 48,000 crores over 5 years i.e. on an average Rs.100 crore per city per year. An equal amount on a matching basis is to be provided by the State/ULB. Additional resources are to be raised through convergence, from ULBs’ own funds, grants under Finance Commission, innovative finance mechanisms such as Municipal Bonds, other government programs and borrowings. Emphasis has been given on the participation of private sector through Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Citizens’ aspirations were captured in the Smart City Proposals (SCPs) prepared by the selected cities. Aggregated at the national level, these proposals contained more than 5,000 projects worth over Rs. 2,00,000 crores, of which 45 percent is to be funded through Mission grants, 21 percent through convergence, 21 percent through PPP and rest from other sources. Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) program used a competition-based method as a means for selecting cities for funding, based on an area-based development strategy. Cities competed at the state level with other cities within the state. Then the state-level winner competed at the national level Smart City Challenge. Cities obtaining the highest marks in a particular round were chosen to be part of the mission.Most cities in India are water stressed, with no city having 24/7 water supply. According to the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), 182 cities require immediate attention in regards to proper water and wastewater management. According to official statistics, the coverage of sanitation has increased but resource sustainability and slippages are very common in that coverage.Moreover, in cities with more than one million people, the official water supply after 35% loss in leakages is just 125 litres/day per capita which is considerably lower than the demand of 210 litres/day per capita. Infrastructure development and regulations have not kept pace with population growth and urbanisation and as a result wastewater management has become a major challenge. There is also major groundwater exploitation in urban India as many towns and cities depend on groundwater for their supply. Reform is needed which reduces non-revenue water, groundwater exploitation, considers waste as a resource, and looks at the water cycle in a holistic way.n 2010, the UN General Assembly recognized access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right, and called for international efforts to help countries to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation.Sustainable Development Goal target 6.2 calls for adequate and equitable sanitation for all. The target is tracked with the indicator of “safely managed sanitation services” – use of an improved type of sanitation facility that is not shared with other households and from which the excreta produced are either safely treated in situ, or transported and treated off-site. Some 827 000 people in low- and middle-income countries die as a result of inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene each year, representing 60% of total diarrheal deaths. Poor sanitation is believed to be the main cause in some 432 000 of these deaths. Diarrhea remains a major killer but is largely preventable. Better water, sanitation, and hygiene could prevent the deaths of 297 000 children aged under 5 years each year. Open defecation perpetuates a vicious cycle of disease and poverty. The countries where open defection is most widespread have the highest number of deaths of children aged under 5 years as well as the highest levels of malnutrition and poverty, and big disparities of wealth.Benefits of improved sanitation extend well beyond reducing the risk of diarrhea include:•reducing the spread of intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma, which are neglected tropical diseases that cause suffering for millions;•reducing the severity and impact of malnutrition;•promoting dignity and boosting safety, particularly among women and girls;•promoting school attendance: girls’ school attendance is particularly boosted by the provision of separate sanitary facilities; and•potential recovery of water, renewable energy and nutrients from faecal waste.A WHO study in 2012 calculated that for every US$ 1.00 invested in sanitation, there was a return of US$ 5.50 in lower health costs, more productivity, and fewer premature deaths.In 2013, the UN Deputy Secretary-General issued a call to action on sanitation that included the elimination of open defecation by 2025. Achieving universal access to a basic drinking water source appears within reach, but universal access to basic sanitation will require additional efforts.The situation of the urban poor poses a growing challenge as they live increasingly in mega cities where sewerage is precarious or non-existent and space for toilets and removal of waste is at a premium. Inequalities in access are compounded when sewage removed from wealthier households is discharged into storm drains, waterways or landfills, polluting poor residential areas.Limited data available on this topic suggests that a large proportion of wastewater in developing countries is discharged partially treated or untreated directly into rivers, lakes or the ocean.Wastewater is increasingly seen as a resource providing reliable water and nutrients for food production to feed growing urban populations. Yet this requires:•management practices that ensure wastewater is sufficiently treated and safely reused;•institutional oversight and regulation; and•public education campaigns to inform people about wastewater use.To accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put the focus on sanitation, the Prime Minister of India had launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on 2nd October 2014. Under the mission, all villages, Gram Panchayats, Districts, States and Union Territories in India declared themselves "open-defecation free" (ODF) by 2 October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing over 100 million toilets in rural India. To ensure that the open defecation free behaviours are sustained, no one is left behind, and that solid and liquid waste management facilities are accessible, the Mission is moving towards the next Phase II of SBMG i.e ODF-Plus. ODF Plus activities under Phase II of Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) will reinforce ODF behaviours and focus on providing interventions for the safe management of solid and liquid waste in villages.Sources- Various, Britannica, Wikipedia..


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