Asia and the Pacific, home to 60% of the world’s people, is the most densely populated region after Europe, despite having far lower levels of urbanization. This brief focuses on the challenges posed by urban poverty and exclusion, and the need to ensure that urban settings live up to their potential for realizing the rights of all children as the region continues to develop rapidly.
Hundreds of millions of urban children in Asia, along with their households and communities, have moved out of poverty in recent decades, and cities have been engines of opportunity in this regard. Concentrations of people and investment can stimulate innovation and development, but these benefits are seldom equally shared. Urbanization can boost economic growth, but these growing economies often become more stratified, especially in cities.
Economic growth alone is not a solution, and often goes hand in hand with widening disparities and stagnant levels of absolute poverty. The opportunities that potentially exist for all urban children in Asia can only be realized through a reduction in urban inequalities. This requires strong political will and effective governance, not only at national level but also from local governments and civil society.