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The world at 2035: Who are the “extra” 2 billion?

It is widely reported that the global population will continue to increase over the next 2-3 decades until it stabilizes at close to 9 billion (from today’s 7 billion). However, what is less clear is who these “extra” 2 billion will be?

Over the next two months, Article 13 will explore this future segment of the global population, considering: who they are; what they do; what they eat; what they believe – and more important what this means for business, government and the planet at large. We begin with where they will live….

Where will they live?

Above we have provided a summary table of estimated population growth by region, however within these numbers there are a number of interesting trends

1.   Fast growing African and Asian Cities:The most significant population growth will occur in East and West Africa and Southern Asia, notably within cities. For instance: Nigeria’s population is estimated to grow by 109 million (from 179 – 288 million); Tanzania’s from 52 to 94 million; the population of Pakistan will increase by 57 million (the equivalent to an additional United Kingdom).

2.     Europe and North America – A tale of two cities (Forgotten Cities and Global cities): At first glance there appears to be little population change in Europe and North America, but this masks an important dynamic. On one hand, it is expected that high profile global cities such as London and New York will continue to grow in population and continue to dominate the economies in which they are located. In parallel, fuelled by out-sourcing of labour and the pull of global mega-cities (as above), industrial and planned cities are likely to contract in size, as witnessed by Detroit in the early 2000s. Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia Poland and Slovakia are all predicted all negative urbanisation

3.     Medium size cities – leading to sprawling: The fastest growing urban agglomerations between 2005 and 2015 were cities with less than 1 million inhabitants. This trend is predicted to continue, such that cities will begin to merge creating new sprawling urban zones – for instance along the coasts of Western Africa and Southern Asia.

So what could this mean?

  1.   With more people living in cities on the coast, the impact of climate change and predicted sea-level rise could be disastrous e.g. over 23% of the world’s population lives within coastal-flood zones
  2.   New public health crises – with more people living in closer proximity and new demands placed on sanitation, the potential for global health crises will continue to rise e.g. as witnessed by the recent Ebola outbreak in Western Africa
  3.   With ever greater populations in urban zones, ever more food and resources will need to be produced and transported into cities – requiring increased efficiency and new innovative solutions e.g. vertical farming
  4.   New consumer markets will open up, with an “affluent” lower- to middle-class emerging across Africa and Southern Asia e.g. by 2030 Africa’s top 18 cities will have a combined spending power of $1.3 trillion.


-        Greenpeace 2012

-        United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)

-        United Nations Statistics Division

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