A combination of demographic shifts and overall population growth will result in the more than 2.5 billion people gravitating to urban areas. Shanghai is home to 26 million, Mexico City and Sao Paulo follow with 22 million each and then, Cairo, Mumbai, Beijing and Dhaka all have close to around 20 million people living there.
The report also estimates that by 2030, the world could have 43 so-called megacities (up from 31 today, according to reports) - those with more than 10 million inhabitants - majority in developing countries.
Tokyo with 37 million people is the world's largest city but it is due to be overtaken by Delhi around 2028, the report said.
"The increasing concentration of people in cities provides a way of more economically providing services".
The UN study, carried out by the world body's Population Division, predicts that Tokyo's population will start to decline in the coming two years and that it will be surpassed as the world's largest city by New Delhi towards 2028. Asia, despite its relatively lower level of urbanization, is home to 54% of the world's urban population, followed by Europe and Africa with 13% each.
The world is expected to have 43 megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants, mostly in developing regions by 2030. However, some of the fastest-growing urban agglomerations are cities with fewer than a million inhabitants, many of them located in Asia and Africa.
As for rural populations, while they have continued to grow since 1950, it is expected to reach its peak in the next few years, before declining steadily.
"However, the challenge is that in many countries it's taking place so rapidly. and large slum areas have developed that are not maybe achieving the goals of sustainable development the way that we would like".
"Many countries will face challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including for housing, transportation, energy systems and other infrastructure; as well as for employment and basic services such as education and healthcare", it noted.
At the same time, linkages between urban and rural areas will need to be strengthened, building on their existing economic, social and environmental ties, the report concludes.
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