Cities Driving Development

To create a framework for sustainable development beyond 2015, the United Nations has announced a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals. Broader in scope than the preceding set of Millennium Development Goals, the new goals identify a long list of targets that address the role of cities in human well-being.

As we wrote in The New Age of Cities on this blog two years ago, cities are increasingly important in driving development for the future. City Mayors can mobilise local support and take faster action than countries or federations of countries can. In this new age of speed this fast action can be more important than policy and legislation.

Panorama of Nice

To take one example close to where I live, the city of Nice in Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur (PACA) in France is positioning itself as a destination for well being. Nice is one of the most advanced regions in France in terms of research and innovations within the health and social care sectors.

Under the stewardship of Nice Mayor since 2008, Christian Estrosi, the ‘French Riviera’ metropolis has developed a vision focused on the wellbeing of its citizens and especially, around the older population for active and healthy ageing.

This strategy, which has enabled the development of a number of innovative projects, is supported by a cross-sector group of stakeholders including the University Hospital of Nice (CHU de Nice), the University of Nice, several world-renowned research centres, large companies, SMEs and start-ups, policy-makers and funders of the health and social care economy. The city is now developing European Union funded projects to position itself firmly as a health care and health technology destination, for people in need of health care and rehabilitation, and also for business companies and investors in the medtech sector.

Vice Mayor Olivier Guerin, regional lead on health policy, recently said “Our main objective here is to design new services, from health and social care to the Silver Economy, and bring them to the population, especially our older citizens. Our strategy is based on two complementary pillars, the Smart City programme and the European City for Health. A number of internationally renowned research and clinical teams as well as companies are based in Nice, and the nearby Science Park of Sophia Antipolis.”

OECD Trends Shaping Education 2016About the overall trend of cities leading development, citing a report by OECD on global trends shaping education, the BBC website published an interesting article today. The article is titled “Are Cities the New Countries?” and the author Sean Coughlan comments on the OECD report and asks if big cities have more in common with each other than with the rest of their own countries, when it comes to meeting challenges and shaping development for the future. He also asks if there are more meaningful comparisons between cities such as New York, London and Shanghai, rather than between nation states.

In the highly readable article, the author concludes that today the main challenges of nations are better addressed at the local level of cities.

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