Achieving the MDGs, particularly the goal of halving poverty by 2015, requires that poverty reduction programmes give more attention to urban areas. According to UN estimates, virtually all population growth expected in the world during 2000-2015 will be concentrated in urban areas, and the urban population will rise from 2.8 billion in 2000 to 3.8 billion in 2015. The global population is expected to increase at an annual rate of less than 1 percent per annum, or 0.84 percent over the next fifteen years.

Yet, in the less developed regions, where the rural population will grow at only 0.1 percent per annum, the urbanized population will increase at a rate of 2.45 percent per annum. In other words, with urban poverty growing much faster than rural poverty, poverty is being urbanized. UN-HABITAT estimates that today around 40 percent of the world’s population living on less than US$2 Purchasing Power Parity—roughly 1.2 billion people—are living in urban areas. By 2030 more than half of the world’s poor will be living in cities.