Global Cities Documentary

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Global Cities Documentary

Cities have been for thousands of years the centers of civilization as they have watched empires, kingdoms, governments, and corporations come and go. But in the space of just a few decades our urban fabric is undergoing a radical transformation; today’s wave of mass urbanization is historically unprecedented in speed and scale. Today over 1 million people are added to the global urban population every week; in the space of a few decades, we are in the process of doubling our urban capacity, adding an extra 2 to 3 billion more people to our urban environment. As a consequence, the world is currently going through its biggest build-out of technology infrastructure in history. We will build more ports, buildings, roads, bridges, rail lines, airports, power cables and telecommunication networks in the coming decades than we have since the beginning of civilization. Much of this urbanization will unfold in the emerging economies of Africa and Asia, bringing huge social and environmental transformations, but also the most  significant shift in the earth’s economic center of gravity ever seen.

Our future is set to be urban, as the world’s population is increasingly concentrated in urban settlements, this creates new opportunities and new challenges in a fast-changing context. Rapid, unplanned urban growth can lead to an expansion of urban slums, exacerbating poverty and inequality, hampering efforts to provide basic infrastructure and accelerate environmental degradation. But urbanization also presents unprecedented opportunities for rapid economic development. As hubs of commerce, transportation, communication and flows of finance, cities drive economic and social development offering us the unprecedented opportunity to bring the majority of the world’s population into the global economy of exchange. Not only are people flocking into cities but at the same time, our urban centers are becoming integrated into ever larger and ever denser networks of exchange. The way cities are shaped, their scale, scope of influence, form, and functionality is being transformed to support the rise of global networks. A myriad of overlapping and intersecting flows – of ideas, knowledge, people, money, goods, and services – link not only major cities and city-regions, but an increasing number of diverse places and ecologies into expanding global networks of exchange. These networks of economic, social, political and cultural organization pivot around global cities creating a new geography of connectivity, new rules for economic success and new patterns of governance.

The rise of urban networks is linked to a much broader set of social, economic and technological transformations taking place in the global economy today. This documentary explores this changing landscape and the development of urban networks as the emerging geography of connectivity in an age of globalization.


Systems Innovation

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