Small and mid-size not mega cities are growing quickest and need protection against extreme events – says a new study

The UN conference on Cities (UN-Habitat III) is 14 days away and a new study that is a comment in NATURE by an international team of researchers shows that fast-growing small (populations of 0.3-0.5 million) and medium-sized (0.5 to 5 million) cities, especially in Africa and Asia, need more attention.

Research and political attention in the past has often been given to the growth of mega-cities, but it will be the rapidly growing small- and medium-sized cities where the success or failure of sustainable urban development will be decided. The New Urban Agenda is calling for governments to make cities more inclusive, sustainable and resilient. Small and medium-sized cities are particularly vulnerable and fragile to natural hazards and climate change and often have limited capacities to build resilience.

Strengthening the resilience of small and mid-sized cities also offers opportunities. Smaller cities are easier to manage than megacities. Risk reduction and climate change strategies embedded now can expand as cities grow. Adverse impacts of extreme events, such as impeded traffic flow and closed businesses, and the benefit of reducing those risks are felt more directly.

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