Cities are centres that generate productivity, commerce, ideas, technology, and culture, and therefore play a fundamental role in human and economic development. In 2008, the global urban population outnumbered the rural population for the first time in history. Projections estimate that by 2030 close to 5 billion people will live in cities worldwide.
Bolivia’s urbanisation process started relatively late, during the 1980s, but is rapidly approaching the levels of other Latin American countries. The urban population in Bolivia increased from 45% in 1980 to 69% in 20161, and is expected to keep increasing in the next decades.
By concentrating advantages, such as access to basic services and offering higher incomes, cities in Bolivia are increasingly emerging as effective centres for achieving the SDGs. However, national and municipal governments in the three major metropolitan areas (La Paz-El Alto, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba), face challenges with regards to land-use planning, provision of basic services, and institutional capacity. Thus strong rural-urban linkages, not only with the major cities but also with intermediate2 cities, are needed in order to complement each other and solve major national structural problems.
Given that the great majority of the Bolivian population will live in urban areas by 2030, developing adequate urban management strategies can potentially contribute to reaching many of the other SDGs in an efficient manner.