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Service - Leadership in Government - Issue 75

  • Text
  • Government
  • Leadership
  • Urban
  • Leaders
  • Pandemic
  • Transition
  • Digital
  • Infrastructure
  • African
  • Economic
  • Global
  • Cities

S service report 2020

S service report 2020 Global Cities Report of unemployment not seen in many parts of the world for some 70 years. With automation on the increase, cities – once centres of economic opportunity – have to wrestle with its impact on employment, education and has generated, there is now a rare chance to make the training programmes. shift from fixing near-term problems to creating long- public value. Environmental pressure. A pressing topic is the evergrowing peril of climate change. Pollution, water 3lasting scarcity and exposure to frequent extreme weather 3 VITAL AREAS TO DRIVE events will demand that cities find new ways to become secure, resilient and healthy places to live and work. INNOVATIVE PROGRESS 1_Urban value creation. Structurally renew how cities create value CREATING WHAT’S NEXT for residents, businesses and communities. City leaders will need to make strategic choices and investments, which are likely to look very different from years past, if they are to emerge stronger and more resilient, while each city will necessarily adapt in its way to cater for variations in geography, demography and industrial strength, among other factors. personal agendas, and the tendency to consider value in financial terms. Given the openness to change that the current crisis 2_Global city connectedness. Find new means of securing global flows of trade, investment, ideas and people in a fragmented world. 3_The transformation of urban space. Reimagine urban planning, using physical space and technology to make the environment more sustainable, resilient and inclusive. THE FUTURE OF URBAN VALUE CREATION Cities play a central role in advancing human progress and accelerating economic growth. At the core of their power are the benefits that emerge from clustering diverse groups of individuals, organisations and resources (also known as economies of agglomeration). In cities, human and financial capital are concentrated, infrastructure is readily accessible, and deep specialisation is possible, all of which enhance productivity. Innovation is also fuelled by this proximity, and the ways in which it facilitates flow and exchange of ideas and gives residents a wide array of opportunities for participation, engagement and commerce. To the extent that these benefits outweigh the costs of city living – such as higher rents, congestion and other inconveniences – 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 cities must not only renew but expand upon their unique value propositions – or their specific offering that attracts residents and businesses. This will require a deeper focus on creating public value – that is, value centred on the common good. Leaders have the opportunity to reverse trends that have undermined the stability, equity and value creation possibilities of cities for decades. Trends include the swing toward shortterm, reactive decision-making at the expense of longterm vision and investment, capturing policy processes by interest groups, public administrations driven by ORDER OF BUSINESS Redesigning the urban value proposition. The first step is for public officials, residents and local businesses to candidly assess the current situation, identifying immediate problems and long-term strategic challenges, and identifying the trends that will most affect the city. Based on this assessment, city leaders must drive a process of collaborative innovation to redesign the city’s value proposition in ways that are robust with respect to future uncertainty and compellingly reflective of the interests and aspirations of all stakeholders. With a shared vision established, and the size and scale of the task determined, challenges can be prioritised and an action plan developed. If this effort is genuine, practical and transparent, commitment, investment and momentum will follow. Investing in future-oriented recovery. While there is no doubt that immediate public support is required to get citizens, businesses and communities back on their feet, the large-scale, ad hoc relief efforts that have prevailed throughout 2020 are not sustainable, nor are they sufficient to achieve full recovery in the months and years ahead. In addition, with previous cases of emergency economic relief having been accused of benefitting the few at the expense of the many, the entire topic is now under heightened scrutiny. While conditional recovery aid is becoming more common, it can often be, in many ways, punitive and past-oriented. Now, rather than focusing on past Satellite image of New York at night. Now, rather than focusing on past behaviours, recovery plans and programmes should focus on the future, and align the conditions for relief with cities’ long-term strategic goals in ways that benefit society as a whole. 28 | Service magazine

service report 2020 Global Cities Report S behaviours, recovery plans and programmes should focus on the future, and align the conditions for relief with cities’ long-term strategic goals in ways that benefit society as a whole. City leaders need to determine which businesses, sectors or mini clusters face the most severe threat, and how they fit into the city’s future value proposition. Support programmes should be tied to business practices or models that steer toward this, while providing transition support to those that do not. Creating markets that generate public value. While the central role markets play in value creation is well understood, government’s role in building markets that directly address public challenges in ways that create both public and private value is often overlooked. With resources and budgets under duress, city leaders will have to look for opportunities to fulfill this vital function wherever they can. Doing so will require collaborative input from all stakeholder groups to come up with new ideas to tackle the city’s most urgent needs and significant long-term challenges. Once these have been prioritised in line with the city’s future value proposition, city leaders, in partnership with the private sector, can design markets to address them. Fostering civic capital. Restoring trust – among residents and between them and institutions – is another priority. This plays a crucial role in building civic capital – the values and beliefs that enable cooperation among societies, which has been proven to boost economic performance. A recent study found that exposure to epidemics reduces confidence in political institutions and leaders, especially among the 18 to 25 age group – a fact that highlights the urgency of the need to build civic capital. Among the wide range of evidence-based approaches to building civic capital are proactively cultivating open discussion and ensuring decision-making processes are transparent and inclusive. Technology tools are designed to build trust in electronic transactions, while online reputation systems add credibility to shared social platforms and communities. ENABLE UNIVERSAL DIGITAL CONNECTIVITY There are no two ways about it: for cities to remain viable in the post-Covid world, they must invest in digital infrastructure, making sure neither income nor location are obstacles to access. This is equally true for rural areas, which can also help relieve stress on urban centres. Seoul is perhaps the closest to achieving universal connectivity; 99.2 % of its residents have Internet speeds more than four times faster than the world average. However, this was not an overnight job: it took decades of dedicated, long-term investment in infrastructure and R&D. If other cities can follow suit and, importantly, educate their populations about the importance of cyber safety and security, they will set themselves up for future innovation and opportunities, and be in a better position to respond to future challenges. ENSURING GLOBAL CONNECTEDNESS Since 2008, the world has been on a path of “slowbalisation”, with international trade on the retreat for the first time since World War II. Covid-19 has dramatically accelerated this trend and diminished the cross-border flow of people. If multilateral cooperation continues to deteriorate, the very connections global cities rely on, which are central to economic performance and the ability to respond in times of crisis, will be increasingly threatened. What’s more, the pandemic has made it abundantly clear that cities will continue to be on the front lines when large-scale disruptions strike, leaving city leaders to drive the local response – often with tight resource constraints and uncertain national support. Protecting cities’ global connectedness is vital if they are to combat their most significant challenges and create public value in a de-globalising world. Restoring trust – among residents and between them and institutions – is another priority. ORDER OF BUSINESS A first requirement is ensuring the continuity of the existing international networks and flows from which cities benefit, including the passage of goods, ideas and people. In some cases, these will look and feel different, at least in the near term, having been altered to fit a new physically distant reality. Cities must also remain accommodating and attractive places to live and work for potential residents from all backgrounds, which means preserving their distinct local character, and giving careful consideration to the physical layout. Finally, many modern threats including Covid-19, climate change and mass migration have a universal reach, but impact different locations in different ways, and at different times. This shows the importance of maintaining global dialogue and influence if city and local leaders are to advocate effectively for their own constituencies, have a say in crucial decisions, and gain access to broader support when crisis strikes. To make progress in this area, city leaders should focus on: Deepening engagement in global networks. Becoming more deeply embedded in global city networks is perhaps the most practical and pragmatic way for cities to maintain essential global links. While there are a variety of different networks in terms of primary objectives, they all aim to enable city leaders to coordinate on important topics and drive change in their local contexts. Two primary types of networks are most valuable for global city leaders. Data and best-practice sharing networks centre on pooling knowledge and experiences, sometimes by Service magazine | 29

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