4.2 Billion People Live in Cities. Let's Make Them Better.
We know that most of the world’s people live in cities now, and that even more will in the future. Let’s make sure our cities can promise opportunity and security for all, no matter who they are, and no matter which city they choose to call home.
Many people head to cities to pursue opportunity. Compared to rural and suburban areas, modern city living tends to offer more options for jobs, health care, public transit, and the arts, which can all improve quality of life. And because cities offer so many benefits that can make lives better, it’s no wonder their populations are growing worldwide.
Just how many people live in cities? Lots, with even more expected in the years to come. According to the UN, 4.2 billion people (or 55% of the world’s population) currently live in cities, and by 2050, that number will jump to 68%. That’s an expected increase of 2.5 billion people!
Can cities handle it?
The answer depends on how cities meet our current challenges, and how they’re planning for the future. Around the world, many cities are struggling with aging roads and bridges, not enough affordable housing, and unequal access to quality education and social services. But the biggest challenge of all is climate change. In particular, coastal cities are especially vulnerable to rising ocean levels and severe storms, and experts estimate that 800 million people in low-lying coastal cities could be at risk by 2050.
So, we’ve got some work to do.
Cities can be great places to live, but in our present moment, we need to do better: We need to ensure anyone who lives in a city can take advantage of the opportunities nearby, while also knowing that their urban homes are affordable and safe. Speaking of safety, city residents also need to know that their local leaders are taking climate change seriously and making preparations for what’s to come.
So, yes, big challenges exist, but luckily, we’re already seeing innovators rise to the occasion. All around the world, you can find Modern Cities that are tackling our present-day problems, while also offering sustainable solutions for the future.
What is a Modern City?
Here at COIN, we look to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to define what a Modern City is and what it can be. Specifically, we look at Global Goal 9, Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, and Global Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities. Together, these goals help city leaders create forward-thinking places that are resilient and prepared for what’s to come, like helping developers build strong bridges and skyscrapers that can withstand big storms. These goals inspire city leaders to be innovative, which could mean that fast, secure public wi-fi access is available all around town. And these goals encourage leaders to be inclusive, like developing city-wide training plans so all residents will be prepared and ready for emergencies.
In sum, Modern Cities are safe, have strong infrastructure, and offer equal opportunities for everyone.
When we look for examples of a Modern City, places like these stand out:
- Chicago, which has 70% of office buildings certified as green/energy efficient, the most in the country.
- Fremont, California, which researchers found as the most inclusive city nationwide. In this case, inclusion looks at “the ability of low-income residents and people of color to benefit from and contribute to the city’s economic gains.”
- Mexico City, which developed a low-emission rapid-transit bus system that moves 1.5 million people every day and reduced commute times by 40%.
- Stockholm, Sweden, which is working to become fossil-fuel free by 2040.
- Tokyo, which The Economist recently ranked as the world’s safest city, both overall and for digital security.
We can help other cities become modern and innovative, too, and investing with impact can play a big part.
How Can My Investment Dollars Support Modern Cities?
When we invest our dollars, we can choose to do so consciously and only invest in companies working to support Modern Cities that are sustainable, safe, and inclusive. This means we invest in companies that have energy-efficient buildings, or those that partner with city leaders to tackle local city problems like increasing access to technology or making public transit better. It’s also investing with businesses that are developing cutting-edge ways to keep data safe and secure.
On the other hand, your investments won’t go to companies that don’t make positive contributions to their communities, don’t conserve energy in company buildings, or don’t take safeguards to protect users’ privacy.
And when we invest in Modern Cities, company leaders can then make the connection that we value their “good neighbor” policies. When many of us invest like this, the connection gets even stronger, and executives then go after even more ways to make cities better. Through our conscious investments and the messages they send, we drive more positive change in Modern Cities worldwide.
Which Companies are Leading the Way in Supporting Modern Cities?
Through their products and practices, these companies are helping to build Modern Cities around the world.
- Cisco Systems Inc.: In addition to providing networking and security products, Cisco recently committed $50 million over five years to help end homelessness in California’s Silicon Valley/Santa Clara County, which has the third-highest rate of chronic homelessness nationwide. Impacted cities include Cupertino, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, and Sunnyvale.
- Johnson Controls Inc.: This equipment manufacturer makes environmental and HVAC systems at the core of more energy efficient buildings. It was also an early adopter of the Climate Group's EP100 initiative to use energy more productively, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and drive a clean economy.
- Prologis, Inc.: This industrial real estate company wants 100% of its new development projects to be certified to sustainable building standards by 2030, including features such as cool roofing and energy-efficient lighting.
How Can I Get Started Investing in Modern Cities?
If you want to support Modern Cities with your investments, check out the COIN Modern Cities Impact Area. By investing consciously, your money will go to companies that are working to create cities that work for everyone. Your investments will support companies with energy-efficient buildings, or those that develop software with strong privacy controls. Additionally, your investments could support sustainable infrastructure, like businesses that partner with local government to sponsor clean public transit.
We know that most of the world’s people live in cities now, and that even more will in the future. Let’s make sure our Modern Cities can promise opportunity and security for all, no matter who they are, and no matter which city they choose to call home.