The Megacities Initiative originates from the awareness of the
future role of cities as the dominant type of settlement for
humanity. Cities will play this role not only as a matter of fact
but also as a matter of necessity, as the only other way of housing
the increasing world population. In an intensive rural occupation
pattern this would certainly lead to an ecological disaster.
To survive, the world's population depends on the continuation of
the explosive growth of cities that may be seen already in so many
developing countries, but at the same time urban growth like this
will create new survival problems as cities will not be able to
absorb the staggering numbers of immigrants that seek shelter there.
The unbridled growth of megacities (more than 10 million
inhabitants) is an extremely topical question. Around the turn of
the century there will be more than 21 megacities. Mexico City and
Calcutta have already passed the barrier of 20 million inhabitants.
According to the World bank some african cities are growing by more
than 10% annually, "the highest percentage ever recorded". In the
coming decades, trillions of dollars will be invested in a global
scale in infrastructure and urban works in order to provide a decent
human existance for the growing world population. However, many
governments and particularly the concerns who are supposed to ensure
this production have too little understanding and wareness of the
problems of content and culture associated with these
The Megacities Foundation in the Netherlands was started as a
direct result of an initative taken by UNESCO who asked the
International Academy of Architecture IAA to focus attention on the
problems of the explosively growing megalopoli. Prof. Jan Hoogstad,
representative from the Netherlands in the IAA, started a nuclear
group of experts and professionals in order to develop a programme
of activities that would bring the topic of urban development and
growth to a wider platform of debate.
The Megacities Foundation aims to assemble knowledge and
understanding for all imaginable disciplines in an attempt to
comprehend the essence of urban growth to the extent of megalopoli
in a world wide cultural and economic diversity, and to use modern
techniques of communication for the creation of a world wide
platform. During a series of conferences the initiative must expand
and comprehension of the massiveness of problems in megacities must
gradually grow. Not to create a codex or any kind of blueprint. But
to help developping a clearer picture of the systems in societies
that contribute to the huge concentration in megacities that might
turn against humanity if no counter movement is originated.
The Megacities Foundation was erected in December 1994 and has
organised since then the following events:
- Step-up conference, May 1995 in Rotterdam: "Megacities 2000"
- First Megacities Lecture, February 1997 in The Hague: Peter
Hall, "Megacities, world cities and global cities"
- Second Megacities Lecture, November 1998 in The Hague: Saskia
Sassen, "Urban Economy and Fading Distance, Cities in the
Unllimited Space of a Global Network" (working title)
The Megacities Foundation runs this internet-site, to which
people can react and discuss about urban development problems. Since
the first documents of the Stepping up Conference have been put on
in May 1995 there were many reactions. It is the intention to
systematise these reactions towards an imput in following Megacities
Lectures, and to continue a strictly limited but constant internet
debate to which the results of each new Lecture are integrated. In
this way the megacities Foundation hopes to stimulate a process of
systematic interaction and intervision on a world wide scale.
PO Box 818