Willis Exec Warns on Increasing Urbanization Risks

January 22, 2015

One of the principal concerns for the movers and shakers meeting in Davos has been the increasing tendency of global populations to move from villages and farms to cities. With up to three-quarters of the global population expected to live in cities over the next 30 years, violent conflict between competing interests could become the norm, warns Tim Holt, head of Intelligence at Willis’s Special Contingency Risks (SCR).

Holt selected the following as possible, and adverse, consequences of the trend:
• Much of this urbanization will take place rapidly and without regulation in developing and sometimes fragile states – such as in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
• The mega-city may supplant “mother state” national governance whilst unable itself to govern at the city level.
• This will happen in an unprecedented era of “connectedness” for all including criminals and insurgents.
• Add to this other factors such as the fact that much of this growth will be crammed into often vulnerable coastal or earthquake prone areas and there are grounds for friction and conflict.

He also noted that “where politics and crime are entwined, the rich self-fortify to avoid massive ungoverned slums and violent extremists recruit hide and fight from ungoverned space, the concept of the fragile city (mirroring many of the vulnerabilities of the fragile state) is increasingly plausible in the eyes of many humanitarian and security commentators.”

He said he is not claiming that all mega-cities will become failed city-states. “However, where governance is already weak the development of these sprawling cities will bring substantial problems in terms of averting insecurity and violence,” he said.

Source: Willis Group Holdings

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