Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Urbanisation: New World Bank and European Commission map shows that 95% of the world's population lives on 10% of the land

18.12.2008
A new global map released today by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre and published in the World Bank’s World Development Report 2009, measures urbanisation from the new perspective of Travel Time to 8,500 Major Cities. The map fills an important gap in our understanding of economic, physical and even social connectivity.

In the absence of agreement on the meaning of "urbanisation", the European Commission and the World Bank are proposing a new definition based on a unique mapping of “Accessibility” called the Agglomeration Index.

Key findings suggest that:

• we passed the point at which more than half the world’s populations live in cities around the turn of the Millennium (2000) - much earlier than the 2007/8 estimate;

• more than half of the world's population lives less than 1 hour from a major city, but the breakdown is 85% of the developed world and only 35% of the developing world;

• 95% of the world's population is concentrated on just 10% of the world's land; but

• only 10% of the world's land area is classified as "remote" or more than 48 hours from a large city.

Quotes
Commenting on the release of the new map, European Commissioner for Research, Janez Potocnik said: "The latest computer-aided mapping and modelling technologies, such as those developed by the Joint Research Centre, paint a unique picture of our planet - a picture that shows how increasingly connected we all are, especially within Europe. This brings home just how important it is to manage our resources, lifestyles and economies in a sustainable manner."

Indermit Gill, Director of the World Development Report 2009 commented: “Economic growth requires changes not just in what people do but also changes in where they live, learn, and work". He added: "This map is a real first and provides a stunning snapshot of the decline of distance, enabling places and people to prosper."

Leen Hordijk, Director of the Institute for Environment and Sustainability of the EC's Joint Research Centre, whose scientists prepared the new map, commented: "We have risen to the challenge of combining various information sources with the latest mapping technologies to produce a unique and timely product for the World Bank. Our map raises the question: For how much longer will remote ecosystems remain remote? Many are crucial to the healthy functioning of our planet."

How does the mapping work?
Digital maps of road, river and rail transport networks, population data, satellite-derived maps of land cover and terrain and information on border crossing times are combined using advanced geographical modelling techniques. For example, the time it takes an individual to travel to a city from 100 km away is calculated from precise knowledge of the terrain he or she must cross whether it is by foot, road, rail or river.

Taking scientists twelve months to complete, the result is a global map of travel time to over 8,500 major cities. This, in turn, allows scientists to establish a new globally consistent measure - the Agglomeration Index - which will facilitate the work of the World Bank and other international organisations when monitoring the effects of urbanisation.

The world's population is concentrating in cities
The human population is more concentrated than ever before. Europe’s urban sprawl gradually fades as we move eastwards into the steppes of central Asia, soon to re-emerge into the dense networks of people and places in India, China and Japan. The attraction of Australia’s coasts is dramatically revealed, while North America appears to adopt a grid system not just for its streets and road networks, but for distribution of the cities themselves.

Cities exercise enormous control over national economies - even the global economy. They provide jobs, access to the best cultural, educational and health facilities and they act as hubs for communication and transport. Of course, they also cluster massive demands for energy, generate large quantities of waste, and concentrate pollution as well as social hardship.

Redefining 'urban'
By using travel-time as a unit of measurement, the map of Travel Time to Major Cities represents accessibility through the easily understood concept of “how long will it take to get there?” Accessibility links people with places, goods with markets and communities to vital services. Accessibility - whether it is to markets, schools, hospitals or water - is a precondition for the satisfaction of almost any economic need. Furthermore, accessibility is relevant at all levels, from local development to global trade.

Because of advances in transport systems and networks we are better connected than ever before. This new map demonstrates how accessible some parts of the world are, indicating increased opportunities for travel, trade, communication and interaction.

This map also serves as a stark reminder that the price of greater connectivity is that there is little wilderness left. While only 10% of the world is more than 48 hours from a large city, our wilderness has shrunk to the highest of the mountains, such as the Plateau of Tibet and the extremes of the high latitudes, such as the boreal forests and ice sheets. Even the deserts and tropical forests are not the inaccessible wild lands they once were.

To find out more:

• A free copy of Travel Time to Major Cities is available at: http://gem.jrc.ec.europa.eu

• The 2009 World Bank World Development Report is available at: www.worldbank.org/wdr2009

• Joint Research Centre: www.jrc.ec.europa.eu

• Aidan Gilligan, JRC Press Officer, aidan.gilligan@ec.europa.eu; +32 (0)2 2986482.

Aidan Gilligan | alfa
Further information:
http://gem.jrc.ec.europa.eu
http://www.worldbank.org/wdr2009
http://www.jrc.ec.europa.eu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht What and how much we eat might change our internal clocks and hormone responses
07.11.2019 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Do horses copy humans?
30.10.2019 | Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Umwelt Nürtingen-Geislingen

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

Im Focus: A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'

The algorithm represents a first step in the automated learning of quantum information networks

Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...

Im Focus: Distorted Atoms

In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.

An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...

Im Focus: A Memory Effect at Single-Atom Level

An international research group has observed new quantum properties on an artificial giant atom and has now published its results in the high-ranking journal Nature Physics. The quantum system under investigation apparently has a memory - a new finding that could be used to build a quantum computer.

The research group, consisting of German, Swedish and Indian scientists, has investigated an artificial quantum system and found new properties.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

Smart lasers open up new applications and are the “tool of choice” in digitalization

30.10.2019 | Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic tuning at the nanoscale

13.11.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

At future Mars landing spot, scientists spy mineral that could preserve signs of past life

13.11.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Necessity is the mother of invention: Fraunhofer WKI tests utilization of low-value hardwood for wood fiberboard

13.11.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>