Activity Report

Challenges in world population growth and urbanization

Population growth in Asia
World population exceeded 7 billion in 2011, and is expected to grow further in the future centering around Asia. By the year 2030, six of the top ten most populous countries in the world will be in Asia (India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Japan), and it is clear that an age of population explosion is due to arrive.

Urbanization of Asia
The urban population of the world is 3.2 billion, but it is rapidly on the rise and is expected to reach 5 billion by the year 2030, as people in developing countries become increasingly concentrated in cities. Growth in urban population is especially prominent in Asia, which is estimated to reach 2 billion by 2030.

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2011): World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision. New York (Updated: 15 April 2011)

Cities in the world
The term ‘megacity’ has come into popular use to refer to gigantic cities, and is specifically defined as a metropolitan area constituting a single economic block that has a population of over 10 million. There are several other definitions of megacity, but by any standard, the largest megacity in the world is Tokyo. “Tokyo” in this context refers to the single economic zone that also includes the city of Kawasaki and Yokohama, and parts of Chiba and Saitama prefecture, and is not synonymous with the administrative district of “Tokyo.” The population of the megacity Tokyo is 35 million and GDP is roughly 1.5 trillion dollars, which is comparable to the population and GDP of Canada.

The numbers differ according to definitions, but it can be said that there are 25~30 megacities in the world today, and about half of them are in Asia. As mentioned above, the population of these megacities is continuously growing, and because development in living environment is not keeping up with the growth, most of the population will end up living in slums. In 2030, 2 billion people around the world are expected to be living in urban slum conditions. Problems of food, shelter, and infrastructure for hygiene and environmental protection will be rife in the cities of Asia, and there is a pressing need for ways to solve this situation.

TKI is currently conducting research and investigation into approaches to solving the problems faced by the world’s megacities, from the perspective of our three key research areas; energy & resources, water & health, and healthcare.

World's Megacities(unit: million people)
Rank City Population Rank City Population
1 Tokyo 34.60 14 Osaka 16.80
2 Canton 26.10 15 Beijing 16.60
3 Jakarta 25.60 16 Moscow 16.20
3 Shanghai 25.60 17 Cairo 15.80
5 Seoul 25.50 17 Dacca 15.80
6 Mexico City 23.40 17 Calcutta 15.80
6 Delhi 23.40 20 Buenos Aires 14.40
8 Karachi 21.90 21 Bangkok 14.10
9 Manila 21.70 22 Istanbul 13.60
10 New York 21.50 22 Tehran 13.60
11 São Paulo 21.30 24 Lagos 12.90
12 Bombay 21.00 25 Rio de Janeiro 12.80
13 Los Angeles 17.00 26 London 12.70

Source: Thomas Brinkhoff: The Principal Agglomerations of the World, reference date 2012-10-01

January 18, 2013