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Fixing Fragile Cities

Solutions for Urban Violence and Poverty

A police operation against drug dealers in Rio de Janeiro, May 2012. Ricardo Moraes / Courtesy Reuters

In the decades to come, the city, not the state, will decide stability and development. People around the world have been converging on cities for centuries, and more than half of them live in one today. Western cities have grown so dominant that commentators now speak of “the triumph” of cities and call on mayors to rule the world.

The direction of urban population growth is shifting dramatically, as Africans and Asians, not Americans or Europeans, flock to cities in unprecedented numbers. According to the latest UN estimates, more than 90 percent of all future population growth will occur in the cities and sprawling shantytowns of the developing world. Meanwhile, urban population growth in most developed economies will slow; in some places, it could even shift into reverse. 

CITIES ON THE BRINK

The global turn to the city has been a successful experiment. Civic planners in the world’s largest metropolises have learned how to

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