How Dutch cities are doing in the urban age

Today, 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. According to a 2014 United Nations report, this is a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050. Projections show that urbanization combined with the overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050. As a result of this trend, ‘the city’ is receiving increasing attention. What makes a good city? How is it built, and by whom?

What is happening in our cities?
The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving or PBL) recently published a series of infographics that look at related questions. “Social and economic activities are increasingly based in large cosmopolitan centers. Government and researchers are referring to the ‘urban age’, or, the era of the city,” the publication reads.

The planning agency’s publication aims to offer particular insight into facts and figures with regard to the development of Dutch cities. How many people live and work inside the cities and their surroundings? And, how does the Dutch urban structure compare to that of other European cities? Starting point is that the rapid growth of the urban environment comes along with opportunities and risks. The biggest urban challenges are situated in the overlapping terrains of the economy, livability, and innovation, the agency argues.

People make the city
An insight that the publication emphasizes is that it’s actually people that are making the city (Mensen maken de stad). “The city is to be regarded as a stage with many different players – from citizens, companies, civil society organizations and education and research centers to policy and governance,” the publication reads. “Government and scientists can work on new, smart systems and technologies. But at a time in which government is increasingly stepping back, it is local experiments and the intelligence and empowerment of energetic citizens, organizations and entrepreneurs that can truly make the difference.”