How Growing Cities Can Motivate Us to Solve Major Social, Economic, and Environmental Problems

Governments don't have the resources to tackle major issues on their own anymore. But urbanization provides an opportunity for private enterprise to step in. What's good for the population, long term, is also good for business. So Executive VP of Corporate Responsibility at JP Morgan Chase Peter Scher focuses on public-private partnerships and private initiatives that can make our cities and our world a better place.
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TRANSCRIPT

Peter Scher: The world is becoming more and more an urban place. Today there’s 50 percent of the world’s population living in urban areas. In the next 30 years we’ll add two-and-a-half billion people to that. So by 2050, our expectation is that 70 percent of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. And I think the challenge for all of us is to use this urbanization as an opportunity to address some of the real challenges that the world faces. Economic challenges, social challenges, environmental challenges. Because they will exist; in some ways they have the potential to expand if we don’t get ahead of them. And I think historically we have assumed that we can leave this, all these challenges to the government to solve these problems or the nonprofit community to solve the problems and the business doesn’t need to get involved. And I think that’s just no longer the case. I think business has to step up, has to play a much more active role not to replace the government, not to replace the nonprofit sector, but to bring its talents and its expertise and its resources to be part of the solution.

I mean the reality now is government is able to do a lot less. They don’t have the resources. In many ways they don’t have the collaboration. And what’s interesting right now is you’re seeing in cities, in urban areas not just all these people we talked about, but you’re actually seeing the kind of collaboration between the public and the private sector, the nonprofit community in a way that’s addressing these challenges that you don’t always see at the federal level. And I think the private sector has a genuine responsibility to step up and to use in whatever case they may have their unique set of capabilities and the resources and their expertise to try to address some of these challenges. We can’t thrive if the communities where we operate don’t thrive. If the communities are failing, it’s not good for business. And I think that’s the mindset that more the private sector needs to get into — that this is not something that can simply be a little sideshow or just contribute to some charities and that absolves you of any more responsibility. We all have a vested interest in the success of our communities and in the success of our cities and we’ve got to step up and make sure that we’re doing what we can to help them grow and to help them thrive and prosper.