Over half the world’s people live in cities, and by mid-century the share is expected to reach 70 percent.
Large population centers face intense risk from climate change, pandemics and shortages of food and water, among other emerging threats. And cities confront problems such as ensuring health, safety, and security, and maintaining aging infrastructures.
But these challenges are outnumbered by opportunities: Cities will continue to stand at the crossroads of an interdependent world, producing the bulk of commerce, ideas and innovation in the form of financial and intellectual capital. Today, as developed and emerging economies navigate a difficult economic period, cities will lead the recovery with long-term strengths that transcend short-term difficulties. It’s clear that global solutions are required for global problems. Neither the direction of globalisation nor the growth of cities is likely to falter.
Some cities begin with natural beauty or inviting climates. But all cities share an increasingly crowded planet and a challenge to give their citizens healthy environments in which to thrive and grow. Open space, congestion management, ease of mass transit and healthful policies collectively paint a picture of the most forward-looking green cities-offering the best quality of life now and for the future. Implementing sustainable practices requires both strong municipal policy actions and support by a city’s residents. While cities are at different stages of developing innovative policies, all are facing the same questions of whether to make sustainability a central goal and if so, how to move most effectively—by regulating, engaging and energising residents, or some combination of all three.
How does your city stack up against its peers? Is your city prepared to lead in the 21st century and beyond?