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This chapter reviews recent literature on global projections of future urbanization, covering the population, economic and physical extent perspectives. We report on several recent findings based on studies and reports on global patterns of urbanization. Specifically, we review new literature that makes projections about the spatial pattern, rate, and magnitude of urbanization change in the next 30–50 years. While projections should be viewed and utilized with caution, the chapter synthesis reports on several major findings that will have significant socioeconomic and environmental impacts including the following:

  • By 2030, world urban population is expected to increase from the current 3.4 billion to almost 5 billion;
  • Urban areas dominate the global economy – urban economies currently generate more than 90 % of global Gross Value Added;
  • From 2000 to 2030, the percent increase in global urban land cover will be over 200 % whereas the global urban population will only grow by a little over 70 %. Our synthesis of recent projections suggest that between 50%–60% of the total urban land in existence in 2030 will be built in the first three decades of the 21st century.

Challenges and limitations of urban dynamic projections are discussed, as well as possible innovative applications and potential pathways towards sustainable urban futures.

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This document was originally published by Springer Netherlands in Urbanization, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Challenges and Opportunities. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at: DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-7088-1_21.

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