The Atlas of Urban Expansion is an open-source online resource with maps, satellite images, and data on spatial changes in cities around the world, created in partnership by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, UN-Habitat, and New York University.
The Atlas of Urban Expansion features a global sample of 200 cities, representing the universe of all 4,231 cities and metropolitan areas that had 100,000 people or more in 2010. The aim is to provide a scientific understanding of how the world’s cities are growing, and to measure performance and identify trends in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda following the Habitat III global cities summit held in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016.
Massive urbanization, accompanied by the rapid expansion of cities and metropolitan regions and the sprawling growth of megacities the world over, is one of the most important transformations of our planet. Much of this explosive growth has been unplanned. Cities in developing countries have been unprepared for absorbing the many millions of the rural poor that are still crowding into informal settlements. These cities are set to double their urban population in the next thirty years, and triple the land area they occupy. From 1990 and 2015, the area occupied by cities in less developed countries increased by a factor of 3.5; if that rate continues, the total amount of land taken over by urban land use would be equivalent to the entire country of India.
The Atlas of Urban Expansion provides the geographic and quantitative dimensions of urban expansion and its key attributes in cities the world over. The data and images are available for free downloading, for scholars, public officials, planners, those engaged in international development, and concerned citizens. The empirical data and quantitative dimensions of past, present, and future urban expansion in cities around the world are critical for making minimal preparations for the massive urban growth expected in the coming decades.
Related publications include the Atlas of Urban Expansion 2016 Volume I and Volume II; Planet of Cities (2012); Atlas of Urban Expansion (2012); and the Policy Focus Report Making Room for a Planet of Cities (2011).