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Underdeveloped urban centres - Marrakesh, Morocco
Urban Powerhouses, Hong Kong, China
Developing mega-hubs - Chongqing, China
Sprawling metropolises, Los Angeles, USA
Prosperous communities, Copenhagen, Denmark
Underprivileged crowded cities, Manila, Philippines

Which kind of city are you living in and how will it develop in the future? Urban populations are growing, which presents both great challenges and exciting opportunities. The latest scenarios supplement reveals how we might make our cities more efficient and appealing places to live. Meanwhile, a new study outlines ways in which Marikina, a city in the Philippines, could grow more sustainably and boost its resilience.

Around three out of every four of us will live in cities by 2050. As cities swell, pressure on vital resources of energy, water and food will become ever greater. Across the world there are big differences in the way cities are built and run, their transport systems and energy use. It’s vital to understand more about these differences in order to make the right choices for building sustainable cities.

Matching common traits

Every city is unique, but some share similar traits. Cities can be grouped into six categories, according to research supported by Shell:

Underdeveloped urban centres, Developing mega-hubs, Under privileged crowded cities
Sprawling metropolises, Prosperous communities, Urban powerhouses

I suspect that one day historians will describe the 100 years to 2050 as the century of the city.

Jeremy Bentham, Head of Shell Scenarios

Focus on resilience in Marikina City

A city resilience study co-produced by the Shell Scenarios team provides our deepest insights into a single city so far. It examines how Marikina City, part of the Manila metropolitan area in the Philippines with a population of around 12 million, could achieve its aspiration to grow more sustainably. 

Marikina is prone to flooding, due to monsoon rains swelling the rivers that run through the city. It suffered a major flood in 2012. The study suggests developing green recreation spaces to help absorb heavy rains during tropical storms.

New Lenses on Future Cities

One of the biggest challenges Marikina faces is ensuring affordable and dependable electricity supplies. The study recommends installing solar power panels on rooftops and building cleaner natural gas-fired power plants to help strengthen electricity supplies and reduce reliance on coal. (See how Beijing in China is tackling air pollution problems by using more renewables and gas-fired power plants.)   

Traffic congestion and associated pollution is a serious and growing problem across the metropolitan Manila area, affecting productivity and public health. The study advocates running more buses and taxis on compressed natural gas or electricity, while improving access to the Manila tram system.

Each solution could improve the lives of Marikina City residents. But implementing them in an integrated way is the best way to ensure the long-term sustainability of the city, the report concludes.

The Shell Scenarios team co-produced the study with multi-sectoral stakeholders in Marikina City, including representatives from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), and various non-government organisations.

New Lenses on Future Cities

Metro Manila is also where the world’s 7 billionth baby, Dhanica Camacho, was born in 2011.

See what life has been like for Dhanica