In developing countries, most of the people migrating from rural to urban areas move to relatively small cities. These “emerging cities” are currently less burdened by overcrowding than many existing megacities. As they grow, farsighted planning and investments can ensure that they are developed in a safe, productive and environmentally friendly fashion. This can result in more liveable cities, but it can also dramatically reduce the capital costs of accommodating the influx of new arrivals. Indeed, focusing on developing the emerging cities in a compact, green and connected manner can reduce the capital costs of infrastructure investment by 6 percent (or 3 trillion USD globally) between now and 2030. This would simultaneously create impressive annual returns due to energy savings, higher productivity and reduced healthcare costs.
Crucial to this development is a focus on city planning that leads to denser but also greener cities in which many daily needs can be met within walking or biking distance and where long-range mobility is provided for by public transport. This would reduce air pollution, create more socially cohesive neighborhoods and drive faster growth due to energy and time savings.
Private investors can also benefit from promoting development with a focus on green, dense and connected cities. More housing units can be built if less room is needed for roads and parking, while parks and green areas in cities make them more attractive to buyers. Evidence of positive effects on property prices, biodiversity and reduced obesity due to physical activity has also been found. In addition, the benefits of achieving a healthier and better-connected city can also be expected to create employment in the long term, leading to a virtuous cycle in which more compact urban hubs concentrate innovation and job creation, in turn attracting more talent and capital.