2. The urbanisation of our economies

2. The urbanisation of our economies

At the time of our “cities – world”, – an inexorable trend in a globalised world–, and of new increasing tensions bound to the notions of identity, belonging, in a socio economic frame which is deteriorating, it is our duty to propose innovative actions in our cities by responding to the stronger requirements of the citizens towards their local governance, in order to rebuild the social, cultural and economic fabric .“ (Carlos Moreno, September 28 2016)


We are facing an unbelievable urban revolution illustrated by its generalisation at global level and a change in the scale of this phenomena which henceforth appears without any limitation.

By 2050, + 70 per cent of the world’s population is projected to be urban (30 per cent in 1950). Continuing population growth and urbanisation are projected to add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population, with nearly 90 per cent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. China and India will contribute more than one third of the global urban population increase between 2014 and 2050.

By 2030, the world is projected to have 41 mega-cities with more than 10 million inhabitants. Currently, we have 19 cities with more than 10 million inhabitants, 22 between 5 and 10, 370 between 1 and 5, 433 between 0.5 and 1.


Metropolitan urban areas play a key role as nodes in global markets. In OECD countries, they  have contributed to 60 % of total employment creation and GDP growth in the past 15 years. they concentrate innovation.

The urban area economic dynamics come from spatial  concentration of stakeholders (companies, households & final consumers, administrations, universities and research centres, incubators), the functional integration (learning, innovation, production, consumption, funding), the available resources (financial, qualified workforce, data & informations) and various interactions (material and immaterial exchanges, physical or virtual networks).

They are also and mainly the result of a continuous and steady lowering of transport costs (goods, people and … information).

At a time of deepening globalisation and increasing urban area competition, cities are increasingly being considered as «sword arms» by governments or integrated regional organisation (see the European Commission strategy with Urban Innovative Actions initiative).

But, this urban sprawl process fosters a spatial mismatch between the edge city (or core), the surrounding cities (edgeless) and their rural environment at both social and territorial level whose effects are precisely one of the reasons which explain  the rising of protectionism.

That’s why urban areas must “harness their physical and environmental capital for more inclusive growth” (OECD (2016), “Executive summary in Making Cities Work for All).

And even more, “cities can lead the way towards economically, socially and environmentally sustainable societies, but that a holistic approach to urban planning and management is needed to improve living standards of urban and rural dwellers alike. Sustainable urbanisation requires that cities generate better income and employment opportunities, expand the necessary infrastructure for water and sanitation, energy, transportation, information and communications; ensure equal access to services; reduce the number of people living in slums; and preserve the natural assets within the city and surrounding areas” (Rio conference, June 2012)

The urban revolution, magnifying mirror of the globalisation, is also indissociable from the ICT revolution and the unbelievable concentration of digital industry at global level (Microsoft, Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, …).

Toulouse, 2 November 2016

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