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Global

million in six years, of which 280 million people are expected to live in cities. That’s a 65 per cent increase in the urban population. But although urbanisation is intrinsically neither a good nor a bad process, its success will depend on how it’s managed. Urbanisation poses challenges for employment, infrastructure, transport, affordable housing, food supplies, rubbish collection and education. However, with the notable exception of water, it is normally cheaper per capita to provide such services in cities than in rural areas. What is also certain is that, as more people move to cities and more human activity is concentrated into them, we can be sure that the most important global challenges that we face in this century will play out in urban environments. And that will mean huge challenges for the planners, the politicians and, of course, the new populations. Cities have to evolve to meet these challenges. Catherine Samba-Panza, interim President of the Central African Republic They don’t have a choice. They are already home to the vast majority of the world’s economic growth, innovation and social transformation, and they must continue to develop if they are to withstand relentless population growth. But as the urban population increases year-on-year, new challenges will undoubtedly arise – not least in building sustainable living conditions that do not harm the environment. The changes will warrant more complex city management requiring evermore intelligent technology and more distinct leadership to meet the changing challenges. These improved connections enable us to develop smarter solutions to meet future challenges. As cities increasingly specialise to gain comparative advantage, a wide variety of clever solutions are emerging. Many think tanks are Arena Politics exploring the most ingenious solutions to enable sustainable urban development, with a particular focus on networks, connections and sustainability. The United Kingdom and Brazil recently signed a bilateral agreement. It was nothing out of the ordinary in these days of globalisation. The difference was, this agreement was not between countries. It was signed between the United Kingdom and São Paulo – a city state. With the strengthening of local power, the world’s major cities, states and provinces have adopted international policies previously reserved for national governments and mustered resources to ensure the protection of their interests abroad. Baden-Württemberg, California, Guangdong, Texas and São Paulo have more © European Union economic ammunition than the vast majority of countries on the planet. California has the ninth-largest economy in the world, ahead of India and Russia; São Paulo ranks 19th, ahead of every country in South America except Brazil itself. Cities are the centres of our modern society and they are getting more complex and demanding every day. So who are the people that are leading this profound demographic revolution? They are the new world economic power brokers – city mayors. There are an estimated million mayors leading global change and at the same time having to deal with the consequences of the way we live and the decisions we take. They are shaping people’s lives and the ecological, cultural and social landscapes of their countries. They are the new global elite whose choices matter everyday. Leaders who work, face to face, with the people they serve. Leaders who, everyday, have to invent local Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing an ‘ethics overhaul’ at the city hall © Bill de Blasio Creative Commons by SA 2.0 London’s most famous mayor Dick Whittington, along with his feline companion, is perhaps London’s best-known mayor. Real-life mayor Richard Whittington became the subject of a 17th-century story and later a pantomime called Dick Whittington and his Cat. The fictional work, however, drew only loosely on the life of the real Richard Whittington – and there is no evidence he owned a cat. While ‘Dick’ was born poor, the real Richard was a medieval merchant, born around 1354, who served four terms as London’s mayor. Born in Gloucester as the grandson of a knight, Whittington made his money as a mercer, importing and exporting fine cloth, such as silk, velvet and English woollen cloth. His customers included Richard II. Whittington’s philanthropy was, most likely, the reason his name has lived on, as he financed projects such as a drainage system in poor areas of the city and a hospital ward for unmarried mothers. He bequeathed his fortune for the establishment of a charity called the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington upon his death in 1423, which is still in existence today. The mayorship that Whittington held is technically known as the Office of Lord Mayor and was created in 1189, with the first mayor being Henry FitzAilwyn. The Lord Mayor’s jurisdiction is confined to the City of London – a small, but ancient, financial district around which modern-day London has grown. Almost 700 people have held the position over the centuries – each term only lasts a year – with the incumbent mayor being Fiona Woolf, only the second woman to have held the post. The Lord Mayor is elected by the City’s livery companies to represent the residents and businesses of the City. In the year 2000, the Labour government created a new – and completely separate – elected post, Mayor of London, which sees an elected politician represent greater London. www.global global four th quar ter 2014 -br ief ing.org l 45 


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