The vast urban expansion in developing countries has global implications. What happens in the cities of the less developed world in the coming years will shape prospects for economic growth, poverty alleviation, population stabilization, environmental sustainability and, ultimately, the exercise of human rights worldwide (UNFPA, 2007). And while urbanization offers significant opportunities to reduce poverty and gender inequality, and to promote sustainable development, managing urban environments sustainably and equitably is one of the greatest challenges for the next decades. Over the past 50 years, the accumulation of people in urban areas, their consumption patterns, behaviors and activities have caused a series of ecosystem changes and have had a significant impact on the environment in terms of resource consumption and waste discharge (UNEP, 2002). As a result, city expansion is having an unprecedented impact on natural ecosystems. Urban infrastructure affects the health status of the population by facilitating or hindering access to public services, such as clean drinking water, sanitation, electricity, and transportation, as well as education, health services, communications and public spaces for recreation and sports. Urban design should provide physical structures that enable people to achieve their potential, meet their physical, social, and spiritual needs, exercise greater control over their quality of life, and contribute to the development of society.
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Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization