Guest Editor's Preface, Metropolitan Governance Reform: An Introduction

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Public Administration and Development

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University of Cape Town

If the political and economic future of our globe is shrouded in obscurity and controversy, there is one striking trend of which we may be certain: our collective future will be even more urbanised than it is now. Current projections estimate that the whole world will be predominantly urban by the year 2007; and the ‘developing’ world, which has historically been much more rural than the ‘developed’ world, will itself, on the aggregate, pass the urban threshold by the year 2019 (United Nations, 2002, p. 163). As the world urbanises, it sorts itself into spatially distinct patterns with respect to both density and size. The trajectory of the number and average size of large cities is especially interesting. At the beginning of the 19th century, Peking (now Beijing) was the only city with a recorded population of more than a million. A century later, 16 cities had achieved this size. By 1950, the number had risen to 83, by 1975 to 195 (National Research Council, 2003, p. 85), and by the year 2000 it was estimated that there were 387 cities with one million or more population (United Nations, 2002, p. 309).