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At the edge of the 21st century cities and towns headline the World Banks development campaign Within a generation the majority of the developing worlds population will live in urban areas while the number of urban residents will double increasing by over 2 billion inhabitants Cities and towns are not only growing in size and number they are also gaining new influence The urban transition offers significant opportunities to improve the quality of life for all individuals but whether this potential is realized depends critically on how cities are managed and on the national and local policies affecting their development Across all countries over time urbanization accompanies sustained economic improvement and when well-managed can be an important contributor to broad-based social welfare gains The development of urban areas is also closely linked to the rural economy through the exchange of labor goods services information and technology capital and social transactions that benefit residents in both locations Neglecting urban issues leads to significant social and environmental costs however In the two most urbanized regions that the World Bank serves Latin America and EuropeCentral Asia over half of the poor already live in urban areas By 2025 two-thirds of the poor in these regions and one-third to one-half of the poor in East and South Asia will reside in cities or towns The nature of urban poverty is more than an income or employment issue and is also characterized by squalid living conditions risks to life and health from poor sanitation air pollution crime and violence traffic accidents and natural disasters and the breakdown of traditional familial and communal safety nets Urban populations are also particularly hard hit by macro-financial shocks such as the recent crises in East Asia and Russia Urban environmental degradation has the most immediate effects on poor urban residents but also has serious national and global impacts Why Support the New Urban and Local Government Strategy
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