A day of talks 8 June held by the Brookings Institute at the ESADE (Escuela Superior de Administración y Dirección de Empresas) Business School in Barcelona gathered public and private city leaders working to implement new business models for their cities. The speakers from Barcelona, Paris, Minnesota, Basel, São Paulo, Cape Town and Istanbul addressed the topic, An Economic Agenda for Cities and Metropolitan Areas.
Professor Solana, the former European foreign policy chief, who now teaches at the ESADE Geo-Centre for the Global Economy and Geopolitics, described an "uneven, uncertain and unsustainable world" – a world which has undergone drastic changes and in which growth is generated by cities.
"The path to take depends on us, citizenship begins in the city," he said.
Mr. Francisco Belil, CEO of Siemens SA, said that although cities cover 1 percent of the world's surface, they consume 75 percent of the world's energy and generate 85 percent of the world's greenhouse gases. Their economic importance should also not be underestimated, he said adding that just ten cities contributed 20 percent of the world's GDP.
He also called for energy efficiency: "Energy consumption is directly related to quality of life. We must be capable of building energy efficient structures… many of the technologies needed for this already exist, but we need to implement them as soon as possible."
Dr. Clos, focused on the urban divide between the huge slum populations in many cities and their wealthier neighbours. Such situations are caused by urbanisation without industrialization, a trend particularly evident in countries relying on extractive industries and agriculture. He said that that although big megacities are emerging, they are not cities as we know them: a large percentage of their population is unemployed; there is no public transport and there is a great divide between the formal city and the slums.
Dr. Clos called for a "back to basics" policy, where simple urban planning tools must be applied and developed by home-grown institutions. "In Europe we have forgotten about urban planning," he said. "We have lost the technology and now do urban refinement."
His remarks were followed by Mr. Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute. He said the United States still considered itself a "small town" nation, even though three-quarters of its GDP was generated in cities.
"We must move from a macro to metro point of view," he said.
Professor Javier Santiso, the Academic Director of ESADEGeo, said changes in the shifting wealth of nations meant that countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) could no longer have an exclusive hold on the world's financial, talent or innovation resources. South-South relations are becoming increasingly powerful, and that cities, as key economic drivers, had to work hard to attract investment and talent.
Mr. Santiago Garcia Mila, Strategy and Development Deputy Managing Director of the Barcelona Port Authority said changes in shipping over the last 50 years meant that, "Europe needs switch from North-focused shipping infrastructure to more sustainable Southern options." He cited Mediterranean ports (such as Barcelona), as the shortest route between Brazil and China.
The opening addresses were followed by a panel discussion at which remarksw were made by: Vincent Gollain, Chief Economic Development Officer, Paris Region Economic Development Agency; Christophe Koellreutter, Founder and Managing Director, Metro-Basel; Hakan Kodal, President and CEO, Krea Group; Andrew Boraine, Chief Executive, Cape Town Partnership; and Mayor Chris Coleman of the City of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Mr. Gollain from Paris noted that his city's biggest challenges arise from the need to reinforce competitiveness, compensate the large number of jobs lost in industry through supporting entrepreneurs, competition with emerging market cities and a need to be more sustainable.
In contrast, Andrew Boraine from Cape Town, said his city was facing very different challenges: urbanization without industrialization, as cited by Dr. Clos. His city had one of the world's worst Gini coefficients, which measures the disparity between rich and poor. Cape Town was a city plagued with drug and health care problems, in which wealthier people were not even aware of the crisis. It was also held back by the absence of a common political agenda and too strong a focus on ad hoc events rather than a proper economic strategy.
In closing remarks, Mayor Jordi Hereu of Barcelona thanked the participants.