How Cities Can Save the World

Despite the homogenizing effect of globalization, many large cities retain their unique character. Indeed, cities can enact meaningful change when national governments will not.

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The story of this century will be the story of humanity's urbanizationthe story of the city. Today, more than half of the world's people live in cities, compared to less than three percent in 1800. By 2025, China will have 15 'mega-cities', each with a population of at least 25 million residents. And while cities do not typically provide the same sense of community as villages do, they can maintain distinctive civic ethos. Hong-Kong is unbridled capitalism with a Confucian foundation, Paris is a anti-Hollywood love story, and so on...

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Residents are often proud of their city's individual culture. And it is a sign of health when a city can distinguish itself against the homogenizing effects of globalization. It may even provide citizens with a counterbalance to national identity, which is often mobilized for dubious reasons. "Cities with a strong ethos can also accomplish political goals that are difficult to achieve at the national level." While China, the US and Canada struggle to address climate change, Hangzhou, Portland and Vancouver are proud of their 'green' image.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

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