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New city-business alliance strives to makes cities more competitive

Leaders of global firms are joining forces with city leaders to harness the shift in power from national governments to cities.

The first meeting of the Global Cities Business Alliance is taking place in London, addressed by the city’s mayor, Boris Johnson. It is being attended by more than 50 organisations, including Mastercard, PwC, Bechtel, and Clear Channel Outdoor.

With cities now generating 80% of global GDP, the Alliance aims to help leading global cities work with firms to be competitive environments for business, maintain their vibrancy as centres for talent, creativity and innovation, and be good places to live.

A communique released by the group says that the shift in power from national governments to cities is being fuelled by population movement around the world into cities, as well as devolution policies.

While only 2% of the global population lived in cities in 1800, more than 50% does today and this is on track to be more than 75% by 2050, it noted.

“At the same time, the way cities are run is changing, with cities facing new and evolving power dynamics in their relationships with other levels of government,” the communique says.

“Cities are the key drivers of global economic growth. Improving the business environment and managing strong population growth will put big pressures on infrastructure, the environment and the social fabric of the world’s largest cities.”

In its early stages, the Alliance is focused on cities that have strong global links, populations larger than five million, and city-level GDP of $200bn. This covers cities such as London, New York, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Seoul and Mumbai.

It is being supported by partners including:

  • AECOM
  • ARCADIS
  • Bechtel
  • Capital and Counties Properties PLC
  • Clear Channel Outdoor
  • ENGIE
  • King & Wood Mallesons
  • MasterCard
  • PwC UK

According to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, a speaker at the summit:

“In this time of increasing global urbanisation, there is both a global imperative and an opportunity for business and city leaders to work more closely together to ensure we develop better strategies and solutions to address our urban challenges, as well as to ensure our cities continue to thrive and generate the economic wealth required to support their citizens.”

Neil McArthur, CEO of Arcadis, said:

“The first ARCADIS sustainable Cities Index not only benchmarks City performance but offers an indication of how Cities can improve quality of life from a People, Planet, and Profit perspective. Successful Cities balance these three demands. ARCADIS are committed to the GCBA as a dynamic initiative to bring Cities and Business closer together for mutual benefit.”

Ailie MacAdam, infrastructure managing director for Europe and Africa, Bechtel, said:

“Whether in developed or emerging markets, cities are fast becoming economic and geo-political players on the world stage. The emergence of cities as global powerhouses means that urban issues will need to be addressed in new ways as they move up the international policy agenda.  Businesses will need to realign their strategies to engage with these increasingly influential markets, and can play an important role in bringing innovation, jobs and know-how.”

William Eccleshare, Chairman and CEO of Clear Channel International, said:

“Cities are undeniably important, with the majority of the global population now living in urban areas. For that reason the big challenges cities face are hugely important too. These challenges cannot be overcome without businesses, governments, organisations and citizens collaborating. We are therefore proud to be a founding partner of the Global Cities Business Alliance. We look forward to bringing to bear Clear Channel Outdoor’s experience and expertise working with cities around the world on innovative projects such as bike-sharing schemes, creating new public spaces and expanding communications infrastructures. In doing so, we can help cities continue to be centres of progress.”

Stuart Fuller, Global Managing Partner, King, Wood & Mallesons, said:

“We are delighted to support the Global Cities Business Alliance and its aims to develop leading global cities as competitive environments for business, through promoting effective city-business collaborations. As a global law firm, we see the challenges and opportunities that our clients face in developing their businesses in the global city environment, whilst witnessing first-hand the importance of collaboration in furthering creativity and innovation. Partnering with the GCBA, and supporting its goals to connect the expertise, experience and active support of global businesses to one another, is something we are proud to be a part of.”

Will Judge, Head of Urban Mobility, MasterCard, said:

“Having worked with some of the world’s largest cities and technology partners to create smarter urban mobility systems powered by payment innovation, MasterCard understands the importance of city and business collaboration. By sharing expertise and technologies we can unlock the true potential of cities to drive inclusive, sustainable growth.”

About the Global Cities Business Alliance

The Global Cities Business Alliance provides a platform for dialogue between business and cities, leading to better interaction and better future cities. It believes that developing strategies for cities to improve their competitive business environment, better manage urban growth and enhance quality-of-life for their citizens, is both a global imperative and a business opportunity.

The Alliance is politically neutral and led by a Board consisting of the Alliance Partners. Current Partners include Aecom, Arcadis, Bechtel, Capco, Clear Channel Outdoor, Engie, King & Wood Mallesons, MasterCard and PwC, with McKinsey as the Knowledge Partner.

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