Upward and Outward Growth: Managing Urban Expansion for More Equitable Cities in the Global South

Urban areas are expected to triple in size between 2000 and 2030. Unmanaged urban expansion increases the costs of service provision, deepens spatial inequities, and imposes heavy economic and environmental burdens. New analysis on 499 cities’ urban expansion confirm the challenge of rapid outward expansion are greatest in lower-income cities.

Cities with rapid outward expansion are often challenged by distorted land markets, deficient services in growing areas, and disjointed informal expansion. This paper highlights strategies cities can take to manage urban growth in a way that ensures more equal and productive cities.

The fifth thematic paper of WRI’s flagship World Resources Report (WRR), Towards a More Equal City, is the result of a collaboration between the Seto Lab for Urbanization and Global Change at Yale University and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

Towards a More Equal City is a series of research papers and case studies that examines whether providing equitable access to core urban services and infrastructure can help achieve more economically productive and environmentally sustainable cities. Visit citiesforall.org for more information.


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