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As populations and markets grow worldwide, cities are expanding at unprecedented rates. More than half of the world's population now lives in urban areas. Populations residing in cities consume higher amounts of water, energy, food, and land than their rural counterparts, and are more vulnerable to extreme climate hazards. 

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Urbanization contributes to increases in greenhouse gas emissions and widespread wild area loss across the world. 

Explore data source

Nightlights imagery is accessible in Google Earth Engine, an open source cloud-computing platform. 

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Google Earth

A Google Earth Voyager Story showcases successful integration of wildlife into urban environments across the world. 


UN Sustainable Development Goals

The UN SDGs help to guide analysis and policy to achieve a safer, more equal world by 2030. Urbanization patterns relate directly to SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities). For more information on the SDGs, visit

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