Cities are the Future of the World
The future of the world would be in cities and urban and semi-urban regions and hence, governments, businesses, investors, and citizen groups should prepare for an urbanized world where the sustainability of the urban modes of living and working would increasingly be strained by inadequate infrastructure and poor planning.
Indeed, with migration to the cities continuing at an accelerating pace, it is time for urban planners to involve all the stakeholders to create sustainable modes of living and working in the cities.
In other words, since future developments in business and society would be determined by urbanization and urban living, we better prepare for an urbanized future by planning and implementing sustainable modes of living and working in the cities.
Unsustainable Cities at the Moment
To start with, at present, except for a few global cities such as Singapore and Sydney in Australia, none of the global megapolis and metropolitan regions in the world is sustainable enough in terms of infrastructure and modes of living and working.
For instance, except for a few cities in the West, most of the cities in Asia and Latin America are woefully inadequate regarding the infrastructure such as transport, housing, water supply, office space, and other characteristics of urbanization.
Indeed, cities such as Mumbai in India and Beijing in India represent the worst of the urban nightmares with their overcrowding and high levels of pollution and inadequate housing, and scarce office space.
While Beijing fares better than say, Delhi, it compares unfavorably to New York and London.
Thus, the need of the hour is for all stakeholders to think of sustainable urban living and make it a high priority item before such problems which are already worse would become chaotic and simply collapse.
A Golden Opportunity for Investors to Combine Profit with Social Responsibility
What this means for the investors is that they have a golden opportunity to combine the profit motive with social responsibility and environmental consciousness by investing in housing and transport systems that are sustainable and at the same time adequate for the rising numbers of people in megapolis and metropolis regions.
Indeed, investors can profit from the urbanization of the world by partnering with the governments and the urban governance systems as well as responsible citizens in addition to NGOs or Non-Governmental Organizations to create urban ecosystems that are self-sustaining and at the same time, amenable to handle the great migration of people from rural to the urban areas.
Incentivizing Urban Projects
Further, the investors can be given tax breaks and subsidies by the Federal, State, and Local Governments to invest in sustainable housing and transport systems so that they can merge profit-making with social responsibility and environmental consciousness.
This can take the form of global investors and consortiums coming together to build and operate Metro rail and Feeder Bus Services connecting and linking to each other so that commuters do not face problems in their daily commute.
What’s more, this can also help in reducing the vehicular usage wherein metro rail and feeder buses dis-incentivize use of cars and other modes of personal transport thereby reducing congestion on the roads as well as curbing air and noise pollution in addition to saving on fossil fuels and other energy sources.
PPP or Public-Private Partnerships
Apart from this, investors can also be given incentives to improve housing through a public-private partnership or what is known as PPP wherein the government provides the lands on the condition that such housing would also include affordable housing for the poor in addition to higher costing high rises and condominiums.
Indeed, investors can be lured by the prospect of higher returns on their housing projects by building a combination of high-priced apartments and flats and at the same time, ensuring lower-cost accommodation for the less privileged.
This can also be extended to urban water supply and garbage disposal wherein governmental incentives can be combined with the profit-making motives to ensure that speedier and efficient garbage disposal systems are created as well as healthy and clean water is supplied to the residents through privatizing the last mile piping and the middle tier transporting.
Impact of Climate Change on Cities and the Paris Accord
A key concern for many urban planners is the impact of climate change on the cities, and hence, investors can pitch in this respect as well by utilizing the funds available under the Global Agreements on Climate Change wherein in 2015, world leaders agreed to create a global fund for building urban systems that are climate-friendly and environmentally responsible.
In other words, there are enough incentives for investors to take advantage of as far as urban modes of living and working are concerned, and hence, it is our view that more proactive action by governments and investors can go a long way in solving the crisis of urbanization and the problems of megapolis and metropolis systems.
Capitalism has to Evolve with the Changing Urban Future
Lastly, it is also our view that capitalism has always evolved with the times and especially so when faced with crises that threaten its very existence.
In the urban context, it is worth remembering that both London and New York were squalid and unlivable during the times of the Industrial Revolution as well as into the 20th Century until combined and concerted action by the stakeholders as well as capitalists ensured that they transformed into sustainable and healthy places to live and work.
To conclude, the cities of the future are at an inflection point, and hence, this is the time for all stakeholders to come together to chart a new Urban Renaissance.