Nearly 55% of the world’s population lives in urban cities and this is projected to increase to 68% by 2050 as per the 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects produced by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The same report mentions that China, India and Nigeria will account for 35% of the projected growth of the global urban population between 2018 and 2050. India is expected to add 416 million urban dwellers by 2050. Many of the urban cities across the globe are already feeling the heat of population explosion as their existing resources were not designed to cater to the exponentially increasing population.
In India, the situation in urban cities is particularly grim as natural resources are already strained which is taking a toll on the quality of life, particularly for those who are at the bottom of the pyramid. Problems like climate change, sanitation concerns, scarcity of water and electricity, pollution, traffic congestion, etc. are not uncommon in metropolitan cities. Yet, several people continue to migrate to these cities in pursuit of work, business, studies, and the promise of a better life.
The pandemic changed this to a certain extent and has given us a glimpse of what could be a solution to urbanization woes. COVID-19 propelled several firms to adopt the work-from-home model. With this flexibility, several people who had moved to metropolitan cities for work eventually shifted back to their hometowns and are continuing to work from there. Many of my friends and colleagues have shifted to live with families in their native towns. They are happier and enjoying being in cities where they grew up. Some of them are from hilly areas and ‘work from hills’ is the most trending and luxurious privilege one could ever have amidst the pandemic. I so wish I had it too! Imagine breathing in fresh air everyday, watching the dreamy sunsets and sunrises, working with the view of mountains, the music of chirping birds, and going for hikes and strolls after work followed by bonfires in the evening. What else does one need to be contended? You can work for a global conglomerate from your native town, be with family and enjoy the perks of life minus any accommodation overheads and dealing with city problems.
Going forward, many of the firms have changed their policies to allow flexible work options permanently for all employees. This way the firms can have smaller satellite offices and save millions of mortgage or rental costs. For employees too it’s a win-win situation. Though, work from home comes with its own cons, especially for those whose nature of work is highly collaborative. But, if we see the bigger picture, this solution could mitigate the urbanization crises and allay the already strained resources of cities.
Remote work will do away with the need for migration, thus giving everyone an opportunity to apply for their dream job without having to worry about shifting. This trend could also drive the development of non-metropolitan cities and make them the preferred places to live, thereby easing pressure on urban cities and leading to holistic development of all cities. Moreover, this could bring another much needed wave of digitization and infrastructure development across the country. There will be high-speed optic fiber connectivity in the remotest of cities, thus opening up avenues for remote education, healthcare and other services too. The possibilities are endless!
If I had a choice, I would prefer living in a non-metropolitan city which is greener and cleaner, away from the hustle of an urban city. The pandemic has remarkably slowed down our lives and made us introspect about our lifestyle, health and what matters most to us. We don’t really need the extra stress of being stuck in three-hour traffic jams daily to make it to work and inhale those poisonous toxins, do we? Fast movers have adopted and now it remains to be seen if others will follow suit? This could forever change the way we live and the health of our environment for future generations. Can we save our planet and reverse climate change? Change makers are you listening and pondering?
2021 shall be better! The Bulletin Box team wishes you healthy, abundant and happier times to come.
Source for stats: https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html