Global Cities Rule

Feb 25, 2016 1:30:00 PM / by Stephanie Sadler

“Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai.

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CAPA believes in the importance of studying in a global city for good reasons. The power of large cities is rising to rival the power of nations. This has been recognized over the last decade, but seems evermore evident as we have entered 2016.

Back in 2011 McKinsey and Company, the famous consultants, wrote: "Urban issues are increasingly prominent on national policy agendas. Cities and metropolitan areas are major contributors to national economies and play a key role as nodes in global markets. Moreover, at a time of deepening globalization and increasing international competition for investment, metropolitan regions have become the targets of a wide range of public interventions. 

As a result, throughout the OECD (the major developed nations) urban development policies seek to address a range of issues – from managing urban expansion and congestion to fostering competitiveness, innovation, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. This share is projected to keep growing, even in OECD countries."

Mix of cultures on London's Oxford Street by Stephanie Sadler
Photo: Cultures coming together on London's Oxford Street by Stephanie Sadler

Then the OECD itself has reported: "OECD countries and almost 50% of the output and jobs of many nations is found in their largest city. Though most cities have higher economic growth, foreign investment and labor productivity than the rest of the country, they are also more polluted, sometimes crime-ridden and socially disparate.

Successful cities attract talented young highly-skilled workers, are centers of innovation and entrepreneurship and are competitive locations for global and regional headquarters. The proximity of universities to research and production facilities means cities are where new products are developed and commercialized. More than 80% of patents are filed in cities."

These developments show why CAPA's My Global Education focused Student Learning Outcomes are so well illustrated in global cities - the understanding of the implications of globalization, urbanization and its social dynamics and diversity in urban society.

Photo: Shanghai Skyline by CAPA President & CEO John Christian

China is still classified as a developing country and not an OECD member; however, the issues are similar. The OECD wrote in 2014: "The scale of China's urbanization and the growing number of metropolitan regions where this urbanization is concentrated are unprecedented globally but issues facing all levels of government in managing this growth are not unique. Most OECD countries have faced a wide range of urban management challenges and are continuing to acquire valuable experience in doing so." Thus China's current rapid urbanization, well-illustrated by Shanghai, can learn from other experiences, including London, Sydney and others.

A key point in all this is not just the importance of individual global cities but of connecting global cities; not all are at the same stages of development or of applying invitations, but sharing of experiences and ideas strengthens many global cities. Educational excellence is not so uniform that it is the pride of all regions in a country - there are often disparities within - but the centers of excellence represented by some global cities can share good educational practice with counterpart cities abroad. 

Photo: CAPA Sydney students by Kristina Worm

Global cities can fight for resources to retain their standing even when countries are undergoing economic downturns. We have seen some countries lose well defined borders and maintain their control in dominant cities while domestic conflicts rage in other parts of the nation. 

There has never been a more important time for key global cities to connect, share research and innovation, cooperate as well as compete and spread best practices. 

Thanks Colin!

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Topics: Global Cities