Published on Let's Talk Development

Building cities for innovation and growth

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Cities now drive as much as 80% of global GDP.  They also consume close to two-thirds of the world’s energy and produce over 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And given the sheer scale of urban growth worldwide, these numbers are only expected to increase. Not surprisingly, cities are rapidly becoming the epicenters of economic growth, spurring innovation, fortifying institutions and nurturing the social fabric of dynamic communities.

In the decades to come, as city populations surge, especially in Africa and South Asia, the pace and complexion of urban growth will need to be considered more searchingly. This trend is  truly unprecedented and will have repercussions on the ways cities are planned and function. Burgeoning city boundaries and surging population numbers will put ever-greater demands on land use, transport, key public services, and labor markets. This is the unavoidable challenge for 21st century cities, particularly in developing countries, in an environment of limited financial resources and a reduced public capacity. 
What can local governments do in anticipation of such high levels of rapid population growth? Should we simply plan for expansion (for example, by planning entirely new neighborhoods) or “building cities”? Can we plan for restructuring of existing parts that have already been built (for example by removing height restrictions and allowing cities to grow vertically)., i.e, “rebuilding cities”? Should higher levels of governments favor the emergence and growth of new cities?   Are there specific national policies that would effectively strengthen the development of world cities? 
Join us online as we consider the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in building sustainable cities and communities that are safe, productive, resilient, and habitable.

The World Bank’s 4th Urbanization and Poverty Reduction Research Conference will be live-streamed on September 8th, 2017 starting at 9 am:

This conference is hosted by the World Bank, George Washington University (Institute for International Economic Policy) and the International Growth Centre Cities Program

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