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Why do people still go to cities?

Published: Wednesday, 18th December 2013

On 21- 23 November, a conference under the title of “Urbanisation: the century of cities”, took place at Ditchley Park.  The report from that conference is now available.

It was generally acknowledged that the trend of rapid urbanisation showed no signs of abating, with most agreeing that there was a strong correlation between urbanisation and economic development.  But those participating were frequently reminded that this was not the only measure of a city’s success: particularly in the developed world, other measures such as quality of life and social cohesion tended to assume greater importance.

In the developing world, the rapid growth of cities was outstripping their leaders’ ability to deliver key services – the resulting slum conditions could be the source of major problems in the future if the dynamic was not changed.   However, these informal settlements were also characterised by great ingenuity, with networks and systems of civic administration quite separate from any formal municipal governance.

In both developed and developing countries, cities continued to have an irresistible attraction for many because of their ability to create the conditions for personal or commercial ‘alchemy’. This suggested that even universal access to good IT would not halt the move towards living in those cities able to attract and retain the restless talent necessary for future success.

Politically, cities are clearly becoming ever bigger players. Nevertheless there was no sense that cities and their mayors would be ruling the world any time soon.

To read the full report click here.