Christmas 2011: Editorial

Recognising the potential of cities

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7979 (Published 19 December 2011)
Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7979

Get access to this article and all of bmj.com for the next 14 days

Sign up for a 14 day free trial today

Access to the full text of this article requires a subscription or payment. Please log in or subscribe below.

  1. David Satterthwaite, senior fellow1,
  2. Diana Mitlin, principal researcher1
  1. 1International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London WC1X 8NH, UK
  1. david{at}iied.org

Cities can contribute to, rather than threaten, a healthier and more ecologically sustainable future

Cities have never enjoyed a good reputation for health. In many African and Asian cities, health problems and life expectancies are still as bad as in 19th century cities in Europe and North America. Yet other cities have some of the world’s highest life expectancies.

Most of the world’s cities are now in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. But in Africa and Asia most governments and aid agencies ignore city problems. They fail to notice how many people now live in cities and how bad conditions are for much of the population—in hundreds of cities, a third or more of the population lives in illegal settlements that lack basic services. But it is increasingly evident that well functioning cities are key to wealthier more resilient economies. Rapid economic growth in Brazil, India, and China has been underpinned by successful cities. Cities attract new investment because of economies of agglomeration, including infrastructure and service provision, a large diverse labour force, and sizeable consumer markets.

There is …

Get access to this article and all of bmj.com for the next 14 days

Sign up for a 14 day free trial today

Access to the full text of this article requires a subscription or payment. Please log in or subscribe below.

Article access

Article access for 1 day

Purchase this article for £20 $30 €32*

The PDF version can be downloaded as your personal record

* Prices do not include VAT

THIS WEEK'S POLL