S service report 2020 Global Cities Report Global cities: New priorities for a new world The 2020 Global Cities Report provides a snapshot of where cities stood as they entered the Covid-19 crisis. Recognising Covid-19 as a definitive turning point, its impact has radically altered global cities and the future they now face. The crisis has fuelled many trends already creating a tremendous strain on cities, from growing fiscal pressure and economic inequality to the effects of increasing deglobalisation and environmental disruption. Meeting these challenges will require city leaders to reconsider many long-standing assumptions and priorities. To emerge from the current crisis stronger and more resilient, city leaders will need to reimagine what is next for their cities. In particular, they must drive progress in the following three key areas: Urban value creation. To remain relevant and competitive in a post-pandemic world, global cities will have to deepen their focus on creating public value – that is, value centred on the common good across all sectors and segments of society. By doing this, city leaders have an opportunity to reverse trends that have undermined cities’ stability, equity and value creation for decades. Cities create value in ways that can’t be recreated elsewhere. However, their ability to do so is now in jeopardy. This is particularly true for global cities. Global city connectedness. The international flows of goods, ideas and people that are so central to global cities are under threat from both the near-term fallout from the pandemic and the long-term trend away from a globalised international order. To sustain these vital flows in increasingly challenging conditions, city leaders must revitalise and expand their cities’ global connectedness in a variety of ways. The transformation of urban space. City leaders have a responsibility to address the many challenges tied to physical space that have been so starkly revealed by the pandemic. They range from how to restart economies safely while complying with the need for social distancing, to addressing the environmental inequalities linked to poor health outcomes in lower-income neighbourhoods. 26 | Service magazine The overall aim should be to reimagine city planning in a way that makes the lived environment more sustainable, resilient and inclusive. THE COVID EFFECT THE TOP 10 CITIES ___ ____ 1_ New York 2_ London 3_ Paris 4_ Tokyo 5_ Beijing 6_ Hong Kong 7_ Los Angeles 8_ Chicago 9_ Singapore 10_ Washington DC 2020 Global Cities Index Depending on where you are in the world, we’re now anywhere from six months to almost a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, and cities are at various stages of response and recovery. As they have begun to emerge from the depths of the crisis, the future of cities has become the subject of intense debate. Indeed, with pundits feverishly suggesting that the pandemic is “killing the attraction of megacities” and that they are “losing their allure”, many have begun to question whether the city can survive as a primary locus of economic and social activity. While these reactions are extreme, so too are the impacts global cities have already witnessed. Emptied city centres There’s no denying that many cities are much quieter places than before. Analysis from the New York Times found that roughly 5% of the city’s residents left it in the early months of the emergency, while cellphone data from the Paris metro area shows the population shrank by nearly 20%. And as millions have abandoned shared working spaces for their living and dining rooms, the future of the office has become increasingly unclear. A recent survey from Gartner reports that 82% of company leaders intend to DESIGN FOR RESILIENCE ___ __ City leaders should also take note of the recent shift to long-encouraged behaviours such as cycling and walking, and take advantage of the momentum in alternative forms of transport to make their cities more accessible and sustainable. While 2020 has revealed the extent of uncertainty facing cities, one thing is certain: Covid-19 will not be the last crisis they come up against. In an increasingly volatile environment, it’s crucial for city leaders to plan and prepare for a wide array of potential disruptions and cater for these in the way they plan and develop urban spaces. This essentially means prioritising adaptability – so that spaces can be used in diverse ways or retrofitted quickly when needed. Throughout the pandemic, there have been many creative and ingenious responses. For example, an architect in Rotterdam designed a micro-market that could be set up in any public square, allowing residents to shop locally and at a safe distance. But by planning ahead and designing flexibility into city features such as parks, stadiums, and even roadways upfront, cities will be able to act more quickly in times of need, making them more resilient in the long run.
permit remote working of some kind as employees return to work, and nearly half (47%) will allow it full time. For all cities, the full ramifications of the pandemic will only be understood in the coming years, but key questions are already being raised. If jobs become less directly linked to cities, and increasingly move online or to the suburbs, will residents follow? What will become of once vibrant city centres if they are no longer considered safe to host major cultural events or as centres of employment? What does the future of consumer spending look like if cities are drained of international visitors and daily foot traffic? And what will be the extent of the economic “scar tissue” left behind? While these developments pose significant challenges in their own right, they are by no means the only forces of change facing city leaders. The net effect of these structural shifts, with the pandemic acting as an accelerant, is a new level of pressure on cities to evolve rapidly or risk losing relevance on the world stage. UNDER PRESSURE: NEW CHALLENGES Taking into account the cumulative effects of the pandemic, we see the major topics of concern for city leaders now falling into five categories, all of which have added urgency and complexity to the task of formulating an effective response. The cost of proximity. Covid-19 has altered the actual and perceived risk of precisely the kind of physical proximity and demographic concentration that defines cities. At the same time, as virtual interaction and remote working models become more viable, the balance of costs and benefits associated with urban life for residents and companies alike has shifted. The choices cities make today will shape their trajectories for decades to come – and there’s limited time to deliberate over the right course of action. Fiscal breaking points. The economic dislocation wrought by the crisis has also placed tremendous budgetary pressure on many cities, adding to debt burdens that could constrain the power of city and local governments for years in many cases. Global fragmentation. With trends toward localisation and economic nationalism already gaining momentum before the virus began its deadly assault, the crisis has brought on a whole new set of barriers to global flows of commerce, investment, people, ideas, data and technology. The premiums on selfsufficiency and strategic autonomy are now at an all-time high – as we saw when the need for medical equipment and resources soared in the face of broken supply chains and severe shortages. As international cooperation erodes, several of the central means by which global cities create value are also crumbling. Urban divides. Cities are facing a set of longer-term challenges made more complex by the pandemic. First is the persistent issue of social and economic inequality, now exacerbated by levels 2020 GLOBAL CITIES INDEX TOP 5 CITIES 1 LONDON, while still in second place, has had a falling score on the Index since 2017. Though the sharp drop-off in economic activity predicted after the Brexit vote has yet to materialise, so too have any new rules surrounding trade, which have not yet become clear. Leader: Culture experience 3 TOKYO continued its slow but steady improvement on the Index, demonstrating strong year-on-year performance in the business activity dimension. What will happen in the aftermath of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s exit from government remains to be seen. 5 NEW YORK CITY widened its lead over other cities on the Index slightly, receiving its highest score in human capital due to strong performance in number of international schools, international student population and the new medical universities metric. Leader: Business activity and human capital 2 4 PARIS’ consistent performance in information exchange (in which it leads the ranking), cultural experience and political engagement ensured the city’s solid hold on the No 3 position this year. Leader: Information exchange BEIJING’S new position reflects higher scores across most metrics. It ranked second in the business activity dimension, partly thanks to a No 2 spot on the new unicorn companies metric. Investments in education and the city’s rising status as a cultural centre also led to a large jump in the human capital dimension. Service magazine | 27