Cooperation On A Global Level Is The Way Forward For Cities

All politics is local and so too are the challenges faced by metropolitan leaders – even in a globalized world. In a new analysis written by McKinsey & Company analysts Benjamin Barber and John Means, the challenges of combatting crime, creating jobs and maintaining infrastructure are problems all municipal leaders confront. From Riyadh to Rio and New York to New Delhi, mayors do not have the luxury of hiding behind legislative votes, they must implement policies in the real world.

Their reality tends to make mayors more likely to engage in and be open to collective action across state and country borders.

“Because many significant urban challenges are global, the problems related to crime, pollution, natural-resource shortages, and economic turmoil move fluidly across borders. Consider migration: the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that nearly 60 million people have been displaced from their homes and about a third are officially categorized as refugees. While national governments struggle to decide whether, whom, and how many people to accept, it is cities that must cope with the day-to-day realities of accommodating those who arrive, often in desperate straits and without legal status,” they write.

Cooperation between cities on a global level is not as much a choice as it is an imperative. Simply consider that the bulk of future economic growth, about 86%, will take place outside the United States.

Cities that act independently are able to solve their own problems, but the hope is that when alliances are created, global problems can be solved.

These alliances are being strengthened by a host of new networks that have emerged, including 100 Resilient Cities and The Global Parliament of Mayors Project, which will host its first conference in September 2016.

According to its website, the project will be “the new platform that will leverage the collective political power of cities to move from mayors talking about issues to instead crafting real solutions.”

The Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution also has a project designed to prepare U.S. cities to compete and cooperate on a global level through its Global Cities Initiative.

Part of the project is the creation of an exchange, which brings together 28 U.S. metropolitan areas to engage in a two-phase planning process “aimed at creating integrated export and foreign direct investment (FDI) plans.”

The Exchange enables leaders to act on the ideas and collaborations generated by GCI’s research and forums, resulting in more globally-oriented metropolitan areas and an evolution in economic development policy and practice.

From climate change and crime to trade and terrorism, cities that collaborate are certain to be those that lead the world in the coming decades.

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