What are the biggest needs for cities of the future?

This morning, we’re talking about the infrastructure of China’s cities and asking whether their urban planners can handle the population shift to urban centers that the McKinsey Global Institute calls “the most significant shift in the earth’s economic center of gravity in history.”

It’s not just a challenge for China. McKinsey came out with a report this year about the needs of growing urban areas like Khartoum, Dhaka, Lusaka, Manila, Tianjin, and Dongguan.

1. They’ll need more space. By 2025, McKinsey estimates that cities will have to construct buildings “equivalent of 85 percent of all of today’s urban residential and commercial building stock.”

2. They’ll need more ports. Specifically, 2.5 times more capacity will be needed to bring cars, toothbrushes, clothes, dishwashers, and other consumer goods to emerging markets.

3. They’ll need water. Muncipal water demand, especially in China and India, will rise. Urban residents and businesses will need 40 percent more than today’s supply.

Of course, McKinsey posits it as an opportunity for business. So if you want to start a construction company, try Ahmedabad.

cities.jpg (Residents fly kites from rooftops in the Walled City of Dariyapur area of Ahmedabad. SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • Stephanie

    What city that you’ve visited seems like a harbinger of what it to come?

    Kerri was amazed by Hanoi, Vietnam.

  • Stephanie
  • Laska

    I am fluent on Mandarin and have lived in China off and on since 1991. I lived in Hong Kong practicing Chinese law from 2001 to 2007. Hong Kong is exactly the kind of city we should plan on for the future. It’s got good transit, it’s got transit problems; it’s got lots of open green space on the hills, and it’s got more people and more high-rises than anywhere else per capita; it’s got access to the harbour and ocean and vistas, and the water and air are very polluted; it’s rich and exciting, and it’s full of poverty. It’s the future we’re headed for. People citing Europe as a possibility – that is a pipe-dream. Our future is not quaint, it’s an over-populated, polluted, climate-changed future that we’re going to muddle through with lots of discomfort and growing pains.

  • Laska

    Thanks Steph and Kerri and guests.

  • stephanie

    96% of Hong Kong is wilderness, added our guest Greg Lindsay. That is what contributes to the high real estate and crowdedness.

  • Laska

    Last post, I promise. Hong Kong has a very low crime rate. I was absolutely safe walking in HK anytime of the night. In Minneapolis and St Paul I’m not nearly as safe.

  • stephanie

    Greg Lindsay’s article about economist Paul Romer’s thesis that you can import a well-run city into a poorly-run country.