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Back You are here: Home Politics Continuing urbanization to impact global biodiversity – U.N. report


Continuing urbanization to impact global biodiversity – U.N. report

Urban areas are growing according to the UN and this will have negative implications on global biodiversity and ecosystems.

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The world’s urban areas will triple in size between 2000 and 2030, with urban populations also doubling to about 4.9 billion in the same period, according to the “Cities and Biodiversity Outlook.”

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More than half of the world’s population is expected to live in cities over the coming years.

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Asia, in particular, will be home to almost 50 percent of the global increase in urban land over the next two decades. India and China, two of the most populous countries in the region, will experience the most extensive changes, stressed the report.

"The way our cities are designed, the way people live in them and the policy decisions of local authorities will define, to a large extent, future global sustainability," said Braulio Dias, executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

Africa is urbanizing relatively faster than any other continent, and most of its population growth will take place in cities of less than one million people. “These cities often have weak governance structures, high levels of poverty and low scientific capacity regarding biodiversity,” said the report.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the study found out that the number of cities has grown sixfold in the past 50 years. In Europe and North America, “cities have exhibited trends of either shrinking or shifting patterns of population in central parts of the cities, coupled with sprawl in outer suburbs and exurban areas.”

The report stresses that urban expansion occurs fast especially in areas near biodiversity “hotspots” and coastal zones. These rapidly urbanizing regions have to implement sustainable urban planning, which are often lacking.

This rapid expansion will draw heavily on water and other natural resources and will take over agricultural land.

Cities themselves play a significant role in supporting plant and animal species, as well as diverse ecosystems. For instance, more than half of Belgium’s floral species can be found in Brussels, while 65 percent of Poland’s bird species inhabit in Warsaw.

Meanwhile, “urban green spaces” provide essential ecosystem services, like filtering dust, absorbing carbon emissions and improving air quality. In the United Kingdom, it was found that a 10 percent increase in tree canopy cover in cities could result into a 3 to 4°Celsius drop in ambient temperature, while also cutting energy used in air conditioning. – EcoSeed Staff

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