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The size, shape and metabolism of our cities are undergoing a metamorphosis. Urban form, urban life and the mechanics of our cities are having to respond to technological surprises, the demands of rising populations and the shifting geography of commerce. At the same time, cities face pressures of balancing quality of life and sustainability with productivity and growth. Underlying these pressures is a sense of urgency and of the need for unabated momentum if cities are to avoid getting locked into models that are unsustainable, uncompetitive or unliveable.
Many cities are using innovative approaches to tackle such serious demands, but there remains intense strain on infrastructure, squeezed funding, suboptimal land use, and a lack of clarity on future strategy in many urban landscapes. All of these deficits are part of the competitive framework between cities across the world. But while attention has been focused on how individual cities are dealing with such rapid and sweeping changes, what has become startlingly apparent is that a redefinition of city style, objectives, purpose and capabilities is taking place and is altering our understanding of the traditional city hierarchy. No longer does size determine growth, or industrial profile drive success, or history govern attractiveness. Rather, as this report clearly highlights, in seeking competitive advantage cities are describing themselves in ways that speak to their distinct purposes and different intentions.
Keywords: cities, new world, globalization, "Big Six", emerging
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