Cities of the future: Global competition, local leadership

Mega trends dominate the future development of cities

In the course of the year long research for Cities of the future: Global competition, local leadership, senior figures from over 40 cities around the world were interviewed by PwC. From these interviews emerged key trends which cut across the experience of all cities: globalisation, individualism, merging, acceleration, hi-tech, hi-touch, demographics, urbanisation and migration.

The urban population explosion which is forecast positions cities as the engines for developing the society of the future and means we are at a defining point in how our urban future unfolds. In this report PwC asks city leaders about the challenges their cities face; international and national, external and internal, how they are responding to them and what their plans are for the future.

Building on the responses of the city leaders interviewed the report explores fresh perspectives on cities, their dreams, knowledge, creativity and motivation in order to find new ways to develop strategic city management. PwC has identified six areas of significant challenge that have to be taken into account when creating a strategy for the future:

  • Intellectual and social capital – to compete in the international knowledge economy means ensuring the appropriate people, skills and capabilities are developed.
  • Democratic capital – city administrations need to be accountable and transparent in their dialogue with citizens.
  • Culture and leisure capital – a strong city brand provides visibility propelling the city into competition for residents, business relocations, tourism and international events.
  • Environmental capital – cities consume significant resources and have to provide a clean, green and safe environment.
  • Technical capital – technology must be able to support the changing needs of citizens. This includes basic needs like transport, housing, water and energy as well as new demands for effective communication like broadband and electronic networks.
  • Financial capital – growing demand for services and diminishing revenues needs creative and flexible financial strategies, often in partnership with the private sector.

In this report, PwC looks at the solutions and approaches taken by cities from around the world and presents the insights, successes and good practices to learn from the experiences in various countries and move the debate forward on the important role of cities in our society.