In the past 30 years the urban population in the Asia and Pacific-region has increased by 560 million people (or 260 percent) and in the next 30 years, it is expected to increase by about 1,450 million people (or 250 percent). This unprecedented urbanization process will make it increasingly difficult for limited natural and human resources to cope with the pressures of modern society.
Midway through the 1990s, the Asia-Pacific region is experiencing rapid economic growth and even more rapid industrialization and urbanization. Clearly, the major influences on the future of the region are the changes in and growth of the urban areas. Several more mega-cities and large cities, with populations over a million, have emerged. Cities in Asia and the Pacific are centers of both hope and despair: while being engines of economic and social development, they are also congested centers of poverty and environmental deterioration.
If present global trends continue, the twenty-first century will be an Asian century, with Asia poised to become the world’s dominant economic powerhouse. By the year 2025, most Asians will be urban dwellers. With most of its value-added economic activities and populations located in urban areas, how well cities function, as systems, will determine the future of Asia.
While Asian and Pacific economies and societies are undergoing rapid transformation, government structures and systems in most countries of the region have been slow to change and respond to the new challenges. To meet the challenges of the twenty-first century new paradigms based on a partnership between local governments and the civil society, including the private sector, are required. This requires a fundamental reevaluation of the form and nature of local governance in Asia and the Pacific.
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