The City We Need

The City We Need

Cities are either helpful or unhelpful in achieving sustainable development. How we plan, build, and manage our cities now will determine the outcome of our efforts to achieve a sustainable and harmonious development tomorrow. Well- planned cities afford all residents the opportunity to lead safe, healthy, and productive lives. Well-designed cities present nations with major opportunities to promote social inclusion, resilience, and prosperity. The world is at a crossroads. In the next few decades, urban dwellers will not only double in number, accounting for nearly three-quarters of world’s population. More than 60 percent of the built environment needed to accommodate these new urban dwellers has yet to be built. So what will our cities be like?

The cities we want should be engines of economic development and lie at the core of a new urban era where people can find freedom, innovation, prosperity, and resilience. To do so requires rethinking the very organization of a city and envisioning its future. For this reason we need to forge a new urban paradigm for the city we need. While the city we need must recognize local contexts, cultures, and customs, stripped to its barebones, it is founded on two key qualities: the respect of public and private uses of land, and a well-coordinated system of systems. If a city is to function properly, it needs to coordinate very diverse agendas related land use, energy, water, waste, mobility, health and education, economic development, and the promotion of cultural vitality and social inclusion. To make sure we have the city we need in the 21st century, our new urban paradigm will have to be guided by a set of principles preliminarily articulated in the Manifesto for Cities and further refined here.