Urban populations all over the world are soaring, with cities expected to add up to 2.5 billion more people by 2050.
While cities are booming as economic and social centers, resources and opportunities are too often concentrated in high-income areas—pushing less affluent communities farther and farther away from the city center and from basic services like employment, schools, and hospitals. Urban regions are expanding outward so fast that the total land area covered by the world’s cities will triple in the next forty years. Without smart planning, this will only result in more sprawl, isolation, and marginalization for poorer communities on the urban outskirts.
Often, the crux of the problem is a lack of good transportation systems to connect everyone—no matter their income level or location—with opportunities. In fact, according to ITDP’s research, metro regions in low- and middle-income countries are providing only a quarter of residents, at best, with mass transit. All too often, those who need transit and transport options the most are those who have the least access to it.
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Cities are at a tipping point, and now is our chance to create a bold and inclusive urban vision. Building truly inclusive cities means providing everyone with reliable transit, safe sidewalks and bike lanes, and urban development that is compact and close to transit. Connecting people with opportunity, regardless of where they live, is key to creating sustainable cities.
Thanks to support from Members like you, we’ve made strides towards fostering inclusive cities across the globe:
The Johannesburg bus rapid transit system (BRT), Rea Vaya, illustrates how good transit systems can connect poor communities to opportunity and even help heal old wounds of racial segregation. South Africa’s first major initiative to redress apartheid’s legacy of racial town planning, Rea Vaya provides a quick, safe link for residents of historically black communities like Alexandra Township, one of the poorest urban areas in the country, to the central business district and the opportunities and services that come with it. Access to Rea Vaya has also reduced commuting times by half for many residents.
Providing plenty of affordable housing is critical for inclusive cities. But what good is housing if residents don’t have access to jobs or schools? In Brazil, more than twenty-five million people will live in Minha Casa Minha Vida federal housing by 2019, but many units are in remote parts of the city—sometimes four hours and multiple transit transfers away from employment and other services. In response, ITDP worked with the Brazilian national government to create first-of-its-kind policy criteria to make sure new housing is located near transit— strengthening access to opportunities while providing homes for millions of low-income residents. (Photo to the left by Alberto Coutinho/AGECOM)