In 2008 the world became predominantly urban, with more than 50 % of the planet now living in urban areas. The growth of cities will transform the planet in the 21st century, particularly in developing countries, where almost all of global urban growth is occurring. This transformation is arguably most stark in cities of sub-Saharan Africa, with a recent UN World Urbanisation report noting that the globe's 30 fastest growing cities are located on the continent. Much of this growth is taking place in an informal, unplanned manner, bringing with it not only increased population density and pressure, but presenting governments with a range of social, economic, planning and governance challenges. This process will be further exacerbated by the threats of climate change.

Both international organizations and national governments in the South often see urbanisation as largely unwanted, arguably to the extent that their policies may be counterproductive to achieving sustainable urban development. More than three quarters of African governments recently reported that they actively discouraged strong urban population growth. It appears under-appreciated, however, that urbanisation is often associated with greater opportunities for economic, social and political development.

A major hurdle to assessing the impact of the urban revolution is the lack of data that allow us to measure progress on critical issues such as socio-economic development, health and education, planning and governance, urban security, and adaptation to climate change. Yet with the renewed post-MDG focus on Sustainable Development Goals, there is an opportunity for a critical conversation about how we measure progress towards sustainable human development and human security in cities, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Three expert speakers will present on topics covering processes of data collection in developing cities, urban security and conflict, and climate change adaptation, with a discussion of prospects for sustainable urbanisation to follow.

Speakers are: .

David Simon, Mistra Urban Futures, Goteborg

Henrik Urdal, PRIO

Trond Vedeld, NIBR

Kristian Hoelscher, PRIO (chair)