World Cities and Nation States
World Cities and Nation States
Introduction : Clash of the centuries?
The emergence of 'world cities', urban areas that are becoming global in character and orientation, is one of the most important phenomena of our time. World cities 1 are where much of the money, the knowledge and the decisions that shape the 21st century are generated. Their influence has propelled humanity beyond the inflection point from the 'age of the nation state' and into the 'age of cities'. And yet this new age inherits all the identities, institutions and organising principles of the nation state system. The tensions, trade-offs and opportunities that arise out of this unstable equilibrium are the subject of this book.
World cities confront nation states with a historic opportunity and challenge. These dynamic agglomerations of people, industries and infrastructure have the potential to help a national economy be more globally connected and productive, and to spread multiple benefits across national systems of cities through connectivity, economic specialisation and co-operation. Their activities might increase the connection of their national economy to global systems of trade, investment and talent. They also provide entry points to international markets, and are the spur for entrepreneurship and clustering activity for globally trading firms and sectors. In an increasingly urbanised global economy, world cities help to build the 'business brands' of nations and provide them with reputational advantages.
But world cities also depend on nation states and national governments in order to manage the effects of their global integration. Rapid population growth and diversification, urban restructuring and a surge in international investment can lead to multiple challenges. Inflation, congestion, stretched housing and labour markets, exposed infrastructure deficits, land-use dilemmas, ill-equipped city systems, sensitive environmental weaknesses and social divisions can all be 'side effects' of becoming a world city.
At the same time, national governments want to pay attention to the performance of other cities, towns and rural areas, and many look to address the impact the world city has on how other cities and regions within the nation develop. The world city may be understood in theory to offer competitive advantages and major contributions to fiscal resources, but the most visible effects may be de-population or de-clustering of other cities, or extreme concentrations of business, jobs and investment in one place. These challenges lie at the heart of the relationships and friction between nation states and their world cities, and lead to concerns about whether the 'world city model' is always a good one to adopt. Such apprehensions were very visible during the debate in the UK as to whether to leave the European Union and the subsequent fallout of 'Brexit', but they are also becoming increasingly influential in many other world cities and nation states.
In the current period, some world cities and national governments are beginning to embark upon a range of different forms of negotiation and collaboration around these issues that have major implications for the futures of both. These emerging dialogues and co-operation aim to address the understanding of the world city model and its needs, enhance the complementary roles of multiple cities within a national system, increase or improve governance and investment in the world cities, or develop national policies and platforms that can support different kinds of cities with specific tools and interventions. In this book we explore this new ground by examining the different ways in which world cities and nation states are contributing to each other's shared goals.
Each city's organisational and legal framework is different and complex, and the range of institutional dynamics in the world's major cities has not been compared in t