As rising uncertainties shadow global economic growth, cities can play a key role in building an inclusive, resilient, productive, and sustainable future for all. This was the focus of discussion on Friday, April 21, 2017, as thought leaders, national and city policymakers, and civil society leaders convened at the World Bank.
The panelists agreed that careful and long-term planning is the key for addressing cities’ present and future needs. Planning decades ahead is not an easy task, but throughout the discussion, the panelists highlighted several measures that cities can take to ensure long-term strength and sustainability.
The first major approach, as emphasized by Edward Glaeser of Harvard University, is to ensure flexibility and openness to new ideas, technologies, and methods. Effectively, flexible urban planning can capitalize on the various innovations happening in and around cities, all the while catalyzing those further and promoting economic growth.
The second approach centers on climate change mitigation and resilience. While it is important to promote low-carbon and green growth, we should not treat climate change as only a constraint, said Christiana Figueres, Mission2020 Convenor. Instead, she suggested looking at it as an opportunity to create new, improved and resilient infrastructure, more and better jobs, as well as more vibrant communities.
The third approach focuses on the citizens, themselves. The panelists agreed that inclusion, the availability and accessibility of services and opportunities for all, is one the greatest challenges facing cities around the world. However, cities are where the young live. They are the hubs of activity, innovation, and dynamism, and that is why cities are the future.