World Resources Report: Towards a More Equal City
A new approach to cities that prioritizes equitable access to services would improve billions of lives, generate economic prosperity and create environmental benefits for all.
The world’s urban population is expected to increase by 2.5 billion people by 2050. More equitable cities are crucial to climate and development goals, as two-thirds of people will live in cities and vulnerable urban communities will be among the hardest hit by a worsening climate. But achieving more equitable, sustainable cities requires a new vision of how to build and manage urban areas.
Traditional metrics of quality of life based on income are outdated and do not paint a clear picture of city life. Globally, one in three city dwellers — totaling over 1.2 billion people — do not have reliable, safe or affordable access to basic everyday services like running water and sanitation, electricity, decent housing and transport to work and school. The self-provision required to make up for this lack of services is a massive drain on human time, productivity, health and opportunity. And it isn’t just those in poverty: millions of middle-class families suffer from service gaps, leaving them with no choice but expensive, time-consuming and polluting alternatives. This widening gap between the haves and have-nots holds back entire economies.
This World Resources Report series offers solutions to help cities change course from today’s unequal, unproductive and environmentally destructive development patterns, particularly in the global south, where growth is most rapid.
The World Resources Report: Towards a More Equal City finds that a new approach to cities, centered on providing equitable access to services, would improve billions of lives, generate economic prosperity and create environmental benefits for all. It also offers seven crucial transformations that reimagine urban service provision, include the excluded and create the enabling conditions for lasting change.
Siloed, sector-specific approaches are not enough to help cities. Instead, this research highlights priority actions to bridge the urban services divide across sectors. These actions will create cascading and compounding benefits that will transform cities, providing them with the largest returns on investment, even with limited resources, and avoided economic costs. These actions will also improve the lives of the urban underserved and avoid locking in generations of poverty and poor health.
This report shares over six years of research from more than 160 authors and reviewers. It consists of seven thematic working papers, seven transformational case studies, more than three dozen workshops and a culminating synthesis report.
Synthesizing six years of research, this culminating report of the Towards a More Equal City series recommends seven crucial transformations that can create a new dynamic for durable, cross-sectoral, city-wide change. It also offers a set of priority actions for city and national governments, civil society, the private sector, international aid agencies and financial institutions.
Thematic Working Papers
A series of sector-specific working papers explore how cities can provide growing numbers of residents with secure and affordable access to core services.
Untreated and Unsafe: Solving the Urban Sanitation Crisis in the Global SouthWorking Paper December 18, 2019
Unaffordable and Undrinkable: Rethinking Urban Water Access in the Global SouthWorking Paper August 13, 2019
From Mobility to Access for All: Expanding Urban Transportation Choices in the Global SouthWorking Paper May 14, 2019
Upward and Outward Growth: Managing Urban Expansion for More Equitable Cities in the Global SouthWorking Paper January 31, 2019
A series of in-depth case studies examine if it is possible to use city-level lessons to help other cities usher in their own transformations
Surabaya: The Legacy of Participatory Upgrading of Informal SettlementsCase Study November 13, 2019
Guadalajara: Revisiting Public Space Interventions through the Via RecreActivaCase Study March 26, 2019
Kampala: Rebuilding Public Sector Legitimacy with A New Approach to Sanitation ServicesCase Study October 31, 2018