5 Fundamentals for Globally Competitive Cities


As the world becomes more interconnected, our cities will play an increasingly active role in the global economy. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, just 100 cities currently account for 30 percent of the world’s economy. New York City and London, together, represent 40 percent of the market capitalisation today. Going forward, it is anticipated that 600 major cities around the world will together generate 58 percent of the global GDP in 2025. Not surprisingly, the 21st century appears likely to be dominated by these global cities, which will become the magnets of economy and engines of globalisation that drive the fortunes of entire nations

The resulting success of these cities will dramatically change the scale and nature of our communities, and put a tremendous strain on the infrastructure that delivers vital urban services like transport, electricity and water. To create a sustainable future for next generations, we must make careful choices and take decisive actions now around urbanisation, and how we want our cities to function in the future. How we shape the development of these mega cities today will impact the well-being, quality of life and prosperity of the people living in them well into the future

But how do we achieve this? How do we develop globally competitive cities which sustain, renew and transform themselves for future generations?

Here are five fundamentals to developing cities of the future:

1. Global Appeal

For our cities to become competitive globally, they must be welcoming, safe and secure, and improve the quality of lives for people living and working in them

2. Human and Social Capital

Cities must provide the economic and cultural environments that allow citizens to play a role in realising the city’s potential. This is where education, training and fostering of human achievements in all aspects of life come together to form the city’s DNA

3. Good Government

Cities must have governments which are inclusive and high performing. City leaders and decision makers must also have a clear vision and vivid picture of where they’re going, as well as a firm grasp on what success looks like, and how to achieve it. Given the constraints on government budgets, this success is more likely to depend on private sector involvement particularly around funding models, public-private partnerships and innovations

4. Smart Economy

Sustainable cities must provide long term prosperity and growth for the entire city, building success on innovation and socially responsible business models

5. Resilient and Adaptive Infrastructure

The infrastructure that delivers transport, water, electricity and communications services will need to become smarter, greener and cleaner. This is not only the physical infrastructure, but also the soft infrastructure around information technologies, instrumentation, data integration, and innovations to reduce risk and vulnerability and improve preparedness, security and healthy living

It is now widely accepted that cities will become “smart” through ubiquitous infrastructure technology. But the key to unlocking a city’s greatness lies not in technology – rather in its generative ability to use technology to create enabling infrastructure for connectivity and creativity, providing an opportunity to modernise city infrastructure and drive economic growth

The benefits of investing in our cities are compelling, particularly given the improvements that can be made in terms of providing innovative solutions to support economic growth and competitiveness; and decision making and societal coordination which in turn will help drive economic growth, modernise infrastructure, and create jobs for the 21st century

If we are serious about encouraging the conservation and promotion of our urban environments as a legacy for future generations, then the time to act is now. If we adopt new strategies and put in place long-term plans to make our cities smarter and more sustainable, we might still have a chance!

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