Urban centers in the contemporary world are increasingly becoming larger and diverse entities, which have come to take on a life of themselves. This can be attributed to the pace of rural-urban migration which has increased in the last few decades at a rate unprecedented since the rise of the Industrial Revolution. The result has been that a significant number of cities have developed into on centers which contain a majority of the population of most countries. Urban centers are increasingly becoming globalised as seen through the connections that exist between different cities in the world as they share economic, social and political identities which bring them together in cooperation in different sectors. It is essential to note that the ability of cities to develop depends on the populations that live within them and the resources that they possess because it is these two aspects which ensure that there is constant growth as well as an attempt to develop resources for the benefit of individuals who live in cities. Global urbanization is a situation which has come to have both positive and negative effects on the way that populations within cities live and how governments are getting involved in ensuring that they have some control over urban development.
One of the most important aspects of urbanization in the world today is that it is for the most part organic; meaning that cities are increasingly developing at an individual level rather than being planned. This is especially the case in developing countries where urbanization has, for the most part, come to be influenced by rural-urban migration. Individuals in rural areas have come to view cities as places of opportunity where they can earn more money and live better lives than they are currently (Gilbert and Gugler, 1994). However, when most of them get to cities, they find that the dream of easy prosperity tends to be false and that they have to work increasingly hard, for the most part as informal labor, in order to meet their needs. The result is that there is a need to ensure that they survive at all costs and this leads to a situation where there recent immigrants to cities end up living in slums. Most slums in cities have developed as a result of the massive migration of individuals from rural areas to urban ones in a bid to find success. Since most of them cannot afford decent accommodations that are offered within cities, they end up living in slums because that it the accommodation that they can afford (Gilbert and Gugler, 1994). The swift growth of slums has become a major concern for most governments in the developing world and this is mainly because they make it difficult for these governments to deliver essential services to the population living within them. Furthermore, they are often areas which contain the highest crime as well as poverty rates in most countries, meaning that they bring about a situation where they put the rest of the city at risk of descending into chaos brought about by lawlessness.
In order to counter the growth of slums, most governments in the world have put in place policies and institutions that have the specific purpose of ensuring that cities are planned. Government control of city planning has become the only way through which the growth of slums can be stopped while at the same time ensuring that cities develop in a more equal manner. City planning can be considered to be the only way through which the equal development of future cities can be guaranteed because without such planning, it is possible that most cities will develop at an uncontrollable rate; meaning that a large part of cities will most likely be slums (Simmonds and Hack, 2000). City planning not only ensures that there is a massive reduction in the growth of slums, but it also involves active steps by government in bringing poverty to an end. Through these efforts, it is possible for cities as places of economic prosperity to become a reality because planning will ensure that active steps in the reduction of poverty as well as the provision of adequate and decent housing discourages the development of slums. Furthermore, it is essential to note that city planning also involves making possible the proper use of resources and this in such a way that these resources are available to all people who live within urban centers. Without proper planning, it is possible that in addition to poverty and the development of slums, there might develop a situation where there is little control over the use of available resources, leading to conflict as a result of fights over scarce resources.
The need for planning in urban areas has come about as a result of the massive growth in the population of cities and it is predicted that within the next few decades, the population of cities will have doubled or even tripled; depending on the growth rate of different cities in the world. This projected growth has made governments, especially in the developed world, to develop contingency plans to ensure that public facilities, such as hospitals, schools, and housing, are developed in such a way that they fit in with the projected population growth of cities (Brugmann, 2009). Without such planning in cities, it is possible that a significant number of people within them will in future end up suffering because of a scarcity in essential resources needed to survive and this will create a situation where there might be a possibility of cities not being able to sustain themselves. The proper management and sustenance of available resources, such as water and energy, is essential in ensuring that there is a balance between the growth of cities and their vibrancy because it would allow for the efficient development of resources to cater for the massive population growth that is expected within cities all over the world in future. In the modern world, cooperation between cities in the development of strategies designed to assist one another to have sustainable growth while at the same time reducing poverty is essential because it allows for the globalization of city planning.
In the globalised world, cities in different countries are increasingly cooperating to ensure that they assist each other not only economically, but also at a political level. This cooperation has helped the development of highly effective relationships between city governments as each of these entities work together in projects of mutual benefit (Taylor, 2006). Among these projects are those concerning environmental sustainability as seen through projects designed to ensure that there is a reduction in cities’ contribution to global warming. The increasing connectivity between cities has brought about a realization that they are the new centers of a globalised world and that it is through them that globalization is being accomplished. Cities have become the basis upon which most global economic entities conduct their operations as seen through some cities’ becoming the centers of global economic activities (Sassen, 1991). Among the cities that have been recognized as being global cities are London, New York and Tokyo; cities which despite their different social, political, and economic backgrounds have become the centers of the global economy. This is because a significant number of multinational corporations have come to base their activities within these cities and it is from here that they have been able to project their influence over the rest of the world. The decentralization of production to countries where there are lower labor costs has further increased the influence of these cities as it is from them that multinational corporations direct their activities in the rest of the world. However, the development of global cities has brought about a situation where a significant part of the population within them has been left behind.
While the development of global cities has led to a growth in the profile of their home countries, it has also brought about a situation where they have led to the marginalization of a part of their populations. This is mainly because the presence of multinationals in these cities have led to a real estate boom which has raised the price of land to such high levels that most people within these cities cannot afford it. The fact that they cannot afford land in cities means that most of the populations within such cities end up not being active participants in the real estate business, meaning that they lose out to foreign individuals with the money to buy the real estate (Marcuse and van Kempen, 2000). It is also essential to note that individuals in global cities often seen their standard of living reduced because, as a result of their cities being attractive destinations for big business from all over the world, the cost of living also goes up. The populations of global cities end up being the losers in the long run because their cost of living becomes so high that it is difficult for them to cater for their needs and make ends meet. The result is that these populations end up being marginalized in their own cities as even the rents for their homes become too high for some of them to bear; meaning that they either have to find smaller apartments or to leave the cities altogether. That individuals in global cities are being marginalized as a result of foreign interests in these cities has raised the question of whether urbanization will be sustainable in the long-term.
The sustainability of constructive urban development has been brought to question as a result of the massive rural-urban migration which is projected to leave rural areas virtually depopulated. Most individuals in rural areas believe that cities are places of economic opportunity and that the best way to take advantage of these opportunities is through leaving rural areas. Through such migration, the old rural agricultural systems have come to be disrupted and this has brought about a possibility that there might be fewer food resources available to feed the people in cities in future. When individuals, especially in developing countries, move to cities, they always believe that they will achieve instant success and that they will become well off in a matter of months. However, the economic realities of cities do not allow for such success to be achieved easily and it creates a situation where these individuals have to serve as casual labor in order to make ends meet. Despite this being the case, there are instances where individuals find some level of success through the use of their skills to develop products which they then sale to earn a living. However, these efforts, especially in developing countries, have been undermined through the importation of cheap manufactured products and the resulting flooding of the market (Pieterse, 2008). The result is that a significant number of individuals who participated in the development of local industries in cities lose out to their bigger and more financially able competitors; thus ensuring the propagation of poverty in cities. Through the development of poverty in urban areas, cities have come to be segregated based on the economic status of the individuals living within them.
Globalization has been recognized as one of the main factors for the acceleration of urbanization and this is mainly because of the influence of more developed countries over others. The United States, as a result of its influence over the rest of the world, has been accused of having a sway, both directly and indirectly in the development of cities, especially along economic capability. It is through its influence over global financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the United States has come to impose the American way of city life over other countries (Marcuse and van Kempen, 2000). This influence has come about as a result of the manner through which American cities have developed, where the wealthy sections of the city, occupied predominantly by whites, have been separated from the poorer sections, occupied mostly by minority groups. The result has been that the wealthy individuals in American society, through their influence over international monetary and developmental institutions, have been able to ensure the replication of this societal structure over the rest of society. The global power structure with the United States at the apex has ensured that its cultural imperialism has had a negative effect over the independent development of cities as more individuals in these societies end up not being in the mainstream of their development. Thus, this influence has the effect of creating a situation where there is a propagation of poverty within society and the continued expansion of the gap between the wealthy and the poor in society. Thus, in order for cities to continue developing sustainably, it is essential that the administrations of these cities ensure that they create an environment where there are greater opportunities for high income and employment.
The development of an environment where there are high income and employment opportunities should be a paramount responsibility for city and national governments. This is because high income and employment opportunities ensure that there is equal development in society because all individuals within it will be in a position to take advantage of opportunities offered to improve their lives (United Nations, 2014). The creation of jobs has become one of the most important responsibilities that is currently being undertaken by most governments because it has been realized that cities are the basis upon which most economies in the world are built and that if they have a high unemployment rate, it is possible that the economy will also end up suffering. Cities have become the basis upon which the global economy has developed and this is mainly through their being the headquarters of economic entities as well as the places where most industries are based. Through the involvement of governments, cities have essentially been planned to ensure that they produce the most economic output as possible and this is the reason why modern cities are designed in such a way as to give almost every sector of the economy its own space within the city so that they can be more productive.
The planning of cities based on different economic zones is currently being done due to the recognition that cities are the basis of most economies. It is through the evaluation of cities that economic output can be measured and this allows for governments to predict the trends in economies and steps that can be taken to put them on the right path. The ability of countries to ensure that there is constant economic growth can be attributed to the business environment within urban centers and this creates a situation where the latter have become indispensable to growth. The influence of cities on the economies of the states within which they are situated, or even at the international level can be considered to be a major factor contributing to their swift growth. This influence makes it possible for cities to develop into areas of great opportunities for individuals while at the same time creating global connections with other cities in such a way as to bring about globalization at a faster rate.
The discussion above has shown that global urbanization is a situation which has come to have both positive and negative effects on the way that populations within cities live and how governments are getting involved in ensuring that they have some control over urban development. It has been found that one of the most important aspects of urbanization in the world today is that it is for the most part organic; meaning that cities are increasingly developing at an individual level rather than being planned. Furthermore, in order to counter the growth of slums, most governments in the world have put in place policies and institutions that have the specific purpose of ensuring that cities are planned. It should also be noted that the need for planning in urban areas has come about as a result of the massive growth in the population of cities and it is predicted that within the next few decades, the population of cities will have doubled or even tripled. Moreover, in the globalised world, cities in different countries are increasingly cooperating to ensure that they assist each other not only economically, but also at a political level. The discussion has also shown that while the development of global cities has led to a growth in the profile of their home countries, it has also brought about a situation where they have led to the marginalization of a part of their populations. The sustainability of constructive urban development has also been brought to question as a result of the massive rural-urban migration which is projected to leave rural areas virtually depopulated. In addition, globalization has been recognized as one of the main factors for the acceleration of urbanization and this is mainly because of the influence of more developed countries over others. Furthermore, the development of an environment where there are high income and employment opportunities should be a paramount responsibility for city and national governments. Finally, planning of cities based on different economic zones is currently being done due to the recognition that cities are the basis of most economies.
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