Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2020, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (1): 68-84.doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1715-x

• Special Issue: Global and Regional Land Surface Characteristics and Socio-economic Scenarios • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Population, urbanization and economic scenarios over the Belt and Road region under the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways

JING Cheng1,4, TAO Hui1, JIANG Tong2,*(), WANG Yanjun2, ZHAI Jianqing2,3, CAO Lige3, SU Buda1,2,3   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China
    2. Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters/Institute for Disaster Risk Management/School of Geographical Science, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing Jiangsu 210044, China
    3. National Climate Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100081, China
    4. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2018-12-20 Accepted:2019-03-26 Online:2020-01-25 Published:2020-03-25
  • Contact: JIANG Tong
  • About author:Jing Cheng (1992–), PhD Candidate, specialized in climate risk assessment. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program of China MOST, No(2017YFA0603701);Chinese-Pakistan cooperative project jointly funded by NSFC and PSF, No(41661144027);The CMA Climate Change Science Fund(201722);The CMA Climate Change Science Fund(201810)


The countries throughout the Belt and Road region account for more than 60% of the world’s population and half of the global economy. Future changes in this area will have significant influences on the global economic growth, industrial structure and resource allocation. In this study, the proportion of the urban population to the total population and the gross domestic product were used to represent the levels of urbanization and economic development, respectively. The population, urbanization and economic levels of the Belt and Road countries for 2020-2050 were projected under the framework of the IPCC's shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs), and the following conclusions are drawn. (1) The population, urbanization and economic levels in the Belt and Road region will likely increase under all five pathways. The population will increase by 2%-8%/10a during 2020-2050 and reach 5.0-6.0 billion in 2050. Meanwhile, the urbanization rate will increase by 1.4%-7.5%/10a and reach 49%-75%. The GDP will increase by 17%-34%/10a and reach 134-243 trillion USD. (2) Large differences will appear under different scenarios. The SSP1 and SSP5 pathways demonstrate relatively high urbanization and economic levels, but the population size is comparatively smaller; SSP3 shows the opposite trend. Meanwhile, the economy develops slowly under SSP4, but it has a relatively high urbanization level, while SSP2 exhibits an intermediate trend. (3) In 2050, the population will increase relative to 2016 in most countries, and population size in the fastest growing country in Central Asia and the Middle East countries will be more than double. Urbanization will develop rapidly in South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia, and will increase by more than 150% in the fastest growing countries. The economy will grow fastest in South Asia, Southeast Asia and West Asia, and increase by more than 10 times in some counties with rapid economic development.

Key words: population, urbanization and economic scenarios, Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, 2020-2050, the Belt and Road region