How Nations Can Help Their Urban "Jewels" to Grow and Prosper

In this era of federal government disfunction, cities have been able to innovate, cooperate, and tackle our biggest challenges. It behooves nation-states to see investment in cities as nation-building, and adjust their policies accordingly.
September 23, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Peter Engelke, Senior Fellow within the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative, engages the recent trend in metropolitan boosterism, in which "people are discovering or rediscovering the many virtues of city life, helping to spark awareness that when cities function well, they drive economic growth and technological innovation, foster culture and learning, nurture citizenship and participatory democracy, and help solve environmental problems."

Though cities aren't ready to replace nation-states as the "primary actors within the global governance system" just yet, "[a] central question for national governments is whether they can recognize this phenomenon’s significance and take advantage of it," says Engelke. "A basic first step is to acknowledge that cities are a country’s jewels and deserve to be treated as such. In this view, investing in cities—in their vitality, security, and sustainability—constitutes the work of nation-building."

National governments can support their urban jewels by facilitating "transnational city-to-city learning and policy transfer" and "global governance architectures," he adds. "A final step—and the hardest—is for foreign and security policymakers to formally build an urban perspective into their own work. For Meeting of the Minds readers, adopting an urban perspective is about as straightforward as breathing, but historically, the world’s diplomatic corps largely has ignored cities."

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Published on Thursday, July 11, 2013 in Meeting of the Minds
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