25 Jul 2016
By Joseph D’Cruz, Urbanization Global Task Team Lead, UNDP
Most young people in Mongolia will grow up in cities such as Ulaanbaatar. Photo: Joseph D'Cruz
I first visited Mongolia in 2005. Like most people, I pictured it as a country of nomadic horse riders herding livestock across the vast steppes.
I was surprised to learn that almost three-quarters of Mongolians now live in cities and towns - with more than half the population in the capital Ulaanbaatar alone. In 1960, only 35 percent of Mongolians were urban, but that proportion has doubled in the last half-century.
A similar transformation is happening in developing countries all around the world. Millions of rural dwellers are migrating to cities and towns, drawn by the prospect of better lives - or driven by poverty, conflict and natural disasters.
Cities and towns are growing fast, swallowing surrounding countryside and transforming nearby villages into suburbs. This process is called urbanization, and it is one of the biggest stories in development today. …