Coastal land is being lost worldwide at an alarming rate due to relative sea-level rise (RSLR) resulting from vertical land motion (VLM). This problem is understudied at a global scale, due to high spatial variability and difficulties reconciling VLM between regions. Here we provide self-consistent, high spatial resolution VLM observations derived from Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar for the 51 largest coastal cities, representing 22% of the global urban population. We show that peak subsidence rates are faster than current global mean sea-level rise rates and VLM contributions to RSLR are greater than IPCC projections in 90% and 53% of the cities respectively. Localized VLM worsens RSLR impacts on land and population in 73-75% of the cities, with Chittagong (Bangladesh), Yangon (Myanmar) and Jakarta (Indonesia) at greatest risk. With this dataset, accurate projections and comparisons of RSLR effects accounting for VLM are now possible for urban areas at a global scale.