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Pattern & Challenges of Urbanisation & Development | Social Environment Assignment Help

July 24, 2017
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Solution Code: 1AAE

Question: Tjeerd Deelstra and Herbert Girardet (2000, 1) argue that:

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“At the end of the 20th century, humanity is involved in an unprecedented experiment: we are turning ourselves into an urban species. Large cities, not villages and towns, are becoming our main habitat. Urban growth is changing the face of the earth and the condition of humanity... Urban agglomerations and their resource uses are becoming the dominant feature of the human presence on earth, profoundly changing humanity’s relationship to its host planet and its ecosystems. The cities of the 21st century are where human destiny will be played out, and where the future of the biosphere will be determined...The challenge faced is whether cities can transform themselves into self- regulating, sustainable systems... Is it possible to make a world of cities viable in the long term – socially, economically, as well as environmentally? The answer to this question is critical to the future well-being of the planet, as well as of humanity. There can be no sustainable world without sustainable cities.”

Briefly explain how urbanisation is currently transforming the pattern of human settlement on our planet and discuss some of the key challenges associated with this urbanisation (including the challenges associated with automobile use). In your answer, try to draw on ideas, arguments and examples from the lectures and readings relating to the first four topics.

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Solution: Urbanisation & Development Social Environment Assignment


Urbanisation is a phenomenon, which cannot be rolled back or reversed due to the inherent economics involved in people migration patterns. Opportunities available in rapidly expanding urban centres will continue to post challenges on resource allocation and the environment. Population migration would continue as urban centres offer better infrastructure, opportunities and benefits to the migrating population as compared to the rural hinterland (Saunders, 2010)

Patterns of Urbanisation

95% of the future growth of human population will occur in the rapidly growing urban centres of developing countries. The population in these urban centres will expand rapidly as birth rates and influx of people from rural areas to these urban centres continue (Davis, 2006). By 2050, more than 70% of the world will be living in cities (Saunders, 2010). Better infrastructure, including medical care employment opportunities and life style centres would fuel this rapid growth in population of these urban centres. One of the reasons for a percentage of population continuing with agriculture in the rural areas is lack of required skill sets and financial power required for migration to an urban centre. If these obstacles were nullified, this would increase the migration from the rural areas to the already overcrowded urban centres (Saunders, 2010). The motivation is high on farmers to move into cities because of inflation, climate change, drought, reducing commodity prices and increasing interest rates (Davis, 2006). The chances to survive are more in cities.

Rapid urbanisation brings with it less focus on industrial expansion of capital-intensive mechanised processes. Due to availability of low cost labour, industrial operations tend to become less mechanised and more labour intensive. How ever, availability of low cost labour justifies this approach towards less capital costs on mechanisation. This is an inherent cycle were low cost workers continue to arrive in these urban centres from rural areas. Contributing to this increase in the workforce is the high birth rate observed in the demographic strata of this low skilled, low wage, less educated demographic group (Davis, 2006). This is especially seen in developing countries. Slums remain to exist in the wealthiest of nations and in developing countries (Davis, 2006).

Challenges of Urbanisation

The major challenges when it comes to urbanisation are primarily related unsustainable consumption and production. Urbanisation requires proper management to ensure amenities required for an urban lifestyle are available while urban environments demand high inputs on cost and planning. It is essential that environmental factors are included in this assessment while planning takes precedence and urbanisation includes development of amenities to provide rapid transit of people, goods, and other associated services (Newton, 2008).

It is equally imperative that living environment is not degraded to an extent where the population is forced to step out of the urbanised centre. This calls for ways and means to ensure urban living is not impacted to an extent where environmental factors push up health care and living costs. All of this calls for proper management of healthcare, waste disposal, water availability, and other guidelines governing handling disposal and prevention of build up of pollutants (Newton, 2008).

In the initial stages of city development, the primary mode of transport was walking to destinations. As cities expanded, their growth was fuelled by the advancement in automobile technology. While this helped cities expand, it also increased distances commuted with in these cities. While infrastructure like roads, railways, roads and tramps enable cities to grow; it also brought in challenges associated with these modern means of transportation. Challenges of this nature can only be controlled by limiting the usage of automobiles for personal use, developing hybrid fuel-efficient low polluting vehicles and offering highly efficient and flexible public transportation system (Schiller, Bruun & Kenworthy, 2010).

Migration from rural, agricultural production centres to urban centres results in production pressure in the areas from where the migration has happened. Loss of productive workforce in farming community results in a drop of food production. This in turn impacts supply resulting in an upward spiral in food prices (Saunders, 2010).


To conclude, building of sustainable cities remains the only option for managing the adverse affects of urbanisation. It requires strong urban planning and governance along with the wilful participation of population in cities to ensure that the environmental impact is minimal on eco-system and to retain it as a home for generations to come.

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