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Background and Challenges


Urban growth is extensively transforming the face of the planet. For the first time in human history, more than half of the world's population now lives in towns and cities. With an average growth rate of 2.1% per annum from 1990-2003, the MENA region has one of the world’s most rapidly expanding populations, increasingly concentrated in urban areas.

Cities in both the MENA region and other parts of the world are engines of growth, providing a disproportionate share of income opportunities and access to services. At the same time, cities are places of growing social and economic inequality, with increasing numbers of people living in poverty and deteriorating living conditions. Furthermore, urbanization also poses a significant challenge in the 21st century, with an estimated 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions linked to urban areas. The enormous contribution of urban areas to global greenhouse gas emissions is set to increase even more.



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