Today, 4.4 billion people— just over half the world’s population—live in cities. Cities are the drivers of productivity and prosperity: over 80 percent of all economic activity is concentrated in them. But they are also on the frontlines of multiple crises – feeling the impacts of COVID-19, of conflict and fleeing populations, and of climate change – that can exacerbate risks and widen inequalities.
The mounting impacts of climate change, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, and conflict and fleeing populations, hit cities the hardest and requires them to become resilient to shock waves of change. Cities are also uniquely vulnerable to climate shocks and natural disasters. At the same time, investing in cities can deliver major impact for green, resilient, and inclusive growth.
The coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc around the world and dealt a major setback to decades of development outcomes. Last spring, we successfully championed a moratorium on debt for the world’s poorest countries and launched a fast, broad-based response to COVID-19. We are financing emergency operations in over 111 countries – home to 70% of the global population- which has been the largest and fastest crisis response in the World Bank Group’s history.
One morning in February, in Kaffrine Region, Senegal, Kaffia Diallo emerged from her tent. She is happy; her new grandson was born just two days earlier. “A beautiful baby,” she said, “although I wish he weighed a little more.”