In chilly but bright November weather, Ditchley returned to a subject it has considered many times over the years – urbanisation and the future of cities. Five million people every month are moving to cities globally, with 40,000 a day in Africa alone. This will not be the first century of cities, but it may well be the most dramatic, and the issues deserve more discussion than they are currently receiving. Last minute cancellations left us slightly depleted in numbers, and lacking enough developing country voices, but the range of views around the table still ensured a lively debate, under expert chairmanship.
Urbanisation looks like an unstoppable process for the foreseeable future. Most thought this would also produce greater economic development, particularly in developing countries, but this causality was not universally accepted. We were reminded that urbanisation was not always synonymous with big cities, or industrialisation, particularly in Africa. We were also reminded regularly and forcefully that success for cities should not be measured purely by economic growth.
The problems of cities in developing and developed countries tended to be different. Many developing country cities were growing much faster than the ability to provide the necessary basic services, and the numbers living in slum conditions were increasing accordingly. Unless this dynamic was changed in the next ten years, there could be a major crisis. But attitudes to so-called informal settlements also needed to be changed. Their structures and initiatives should be incorporated into city administrations, rather than simply bulldozed out of existence.
Developed country cities’ problems were less about physical infrastructure than about quality of life and environmental sustainability. But there were still many challenges around, for example, transport as well as financing. Was the prevalent concern about social cohesion and inclusion really worth it? Views were divided. The effects so far seemed limited. Could developing country cities learn from the mistakes of developed country cities? We thought there should be useful lessons, but each city was unique, and we were not confident that many lessons were being learned in practice.
How much difference did charismatic mayors make to the success of cities? Some thought they were crucial, but others put more faith in good institutions and wide democratic involvement. In any case, successful cities certainly needed shared vision and ambition. They also needed to be flexible, nimble, welcoming and tolerant of diversity. The argument about the relative importance of public governance and private sector for city development made little sense. While the balance between the two could be different at different times, the answer always lay in good cooperation between them.
We thought the geography of city boundaries was important and too often not aligned to the current reality. Local resistance to change should be tackled more robustly. The establishment of metropolitan areas for purposes such as transport and infrastructure was meanwhile one way round the problem. Flexibility in finding practical solutions was certainly necessary.
Were cities likely to take over from nation states as the best way of organising economically and politically? Their political importance was clearly growing but we did not think they could manage without the broader environment provided by national governments. One vital area where they did need more autonomy was financing, since most cities had little scope for raising their own revenue from taxation, and poor access to capital markets.
Why were people still so attracted to large cities when technology was making physical proximity to others less and less essential? There were obvious pull and push factors, from economic opportunity and cultural richness, to desperation driven by conflict or disaster. But the city’s ‘alchemy’, its ability to offer individuals the chance to change and reinvent themselves, to escape from rigid conventions elsewhere, and to use their talents to the full, was also fundamental. This would continue to drive urbanisation, even if the jobs available in cities in the future were insufficient in number or breadth, and whether or not cities in the future grew upwards more than outwards. The need to do more to improve city environments, through better design, planning and coordination, would therefore also not only endure but increase. That was the challenge facing us all.
We started from the near consensus that there was no stopping the process of urbanisation and the growth of cities for the foreseeable future, either in the developed world or the emerging economies. Whether or not we thought this was desirable was irrelevant – it was happening and would continue. Many developed country cities, at least the inner cities, had survived a near death experience 40 years ago and were now once again growing strongly and reinventing themselves. Elsewhere newer cities were growing even faster than in the 19th Century, when rapid industrialisation had propelled vast hordes into the new cities of Britain. There was little doubt that two thirds of the world’s population would be urban by 2050.
Most around the table saw a clear link between urbanisation and economic development. It was claimed, for example, that 90% of future growth in the developing world would essentially come from this phenomenon. But some were not so sure that the correlation between the two meant that one caused the other. It was also suggested that Africa might see urbanisation without industrialisation, at least in some countries, and that African experience should make us bear in mind that urbanisation and cities were not exactly the same thing – populations could gather together in large numbers in towns without creating more big cities. Likewise we were regularly reminded that economic growth was not the only measure of whether cities were successful. We needed to look at well-being too.
Cities in the developing world
Cities in many developing countries were expanding faster than their leaders’ ability to provide the services needed, which meant that one billion people were now living in what might be loosely described as slum conditions. There was a narrow window of opportunity to change the way this was happening. If the situation did not improve in the next 10-15 years, we would be heading for a serious crisis, not least since climate change was increasing the risks all the time. In order to build resilient cities and communities, three basic requirements could be identified: an integrated approach to planning; the connection of people to the services they needed; and sufficient finance, through viable tax bases and access to financial markets.
One question which ran through much of our discussion was whether cities in the developing world could learn from experiences elsewhere, for example in the developed world, and manage to avoid the more obvious mistakes. On the whole we were not optimistic. With the exception of small city states such as Singapore (which might in any case be an unrepeatable one-off), we struggled to find good examples of developing country cities ahead of their problems, although there were good examples of initiatives in particular areas such as transport or waste disposal. Did this mean that the search for best practice was a waste of time, or even counterproductive, as one participant suggested? Most did not agree. There had to be valuable lessons cities could learn from each other. However, there was also a fundamental need to recognise that cities were all different and unique – there were no one-size-fits-all solutions.
For now, the challenges for developed world cities tended to be different in kind from those facing developing world cities. The former already had the basic services in place, and were trying to improve and integrate them, and focus on issues such as liveability, environmental sustainability and cultural richness; the latter were still mostly struggling to ensure that fundamentals like clean water, waste disposal, and power were accessible for all, particularly the poorest communities in informal settlements. In such circumstances the search for a ‘smart, liveable’ city could seem secondary. Equity between different groups also tended to be ignored. Corruption seemed endemic in many developing country cities, which in turn undermined any sense of civic responsibility on the part of the wider population. How could the necessary infrastructure be provided quickly and fairly in such circumstances? We had no easy answers. Could the private sector be enlisted, through some kind of ‘charter cities’, where a private company would be given a charter to put in the necessary infrastructure, with a rapid timetable and a tough contract? The idea had attractions, but was obviously also vulnerable to corrupt procurement.
Many participants insisted in this context that we needed to change our attitudes to so-called informal settlements. They were not just problems to be got rid of. It was often assumed that since most people from these areas did not pay direct taxes, they did not pay for such services as they received. In fact, because they were often not connected to the normal services of the city, they often paid more than others, for example for water. They were also more organised than was usually visible from the outside, with strong civil society networks and creative problem-solving, including for basic services. These resources and examples of effective decentralisation, however apparently messy, should be embraced and used, not ignored, in the effort to bring these communities within the parameters of city administrations. The worst way forward was simply to try to force such people off the land they occupied. If the urban poor often had to ignore some laws to survive, was the problem with the poor or with the laws?
We also noted that many aid donors had long preferred to direct their money at rural problems, rather than the cities. Some national governments did the same. This was illogical when so many of the poor were in the cities, and their numbers were increasing all the time. There were some signs of change, but still a very long way to go. It was symptomatic that cities had not seriously figured in the last set of Millennium Development Goals, and were not being much discussed for next time round either.
Cities in the developed world
If their problems were less fundamental than those of their counterparts in the developing world, many so-called developed cities still had big challenges to deal with. Transport, and the balance to be struck between the car and public transport, remained a major bugbear. Other big issues included sustainable financing, housing, pollution, uncontrolled sprawl, jobs, health provision and education. Economic inequality appeared to be rising in many developed country cities, with all the attendant risks of social unrest. While cities were increasingly seen by many as attractive places to live, including the inner cities, and their political power was rising, few cities really had control of their own finances, because they usually lacked the ability to raise more than a small proportion of their own revenues from taxes. They also often lacked free access to financial markets, not least because their parent states did not want them to have such access. This was not a sustainable situation, and pressures from cities for more power over their own finances were rising rapidly in many countries.
Many developed country cities now spent as much time worrying about issues like social cohesion and inclusion as about physical infrastructure. Some in our group seemed unsure whether this was time well-spent. Efforts to produce a broad social mix in particular areas did not seem to have been particularly successful. Planning often seemed to be dominated by considerations more relevant to the elite than the poor. Regeneration projects had for example sometimes been slowed down or rejected altogether by some local residents, with scant regard for those elsewhere who might have benefited. Nevertheless, it was self-evident that broader worries about quality of life, environmental sustainability, pleasant public spaces, and well-being would be the dominant issues once the basics were in place. We did not in practice spend much time discussing such practical issues and how city life could be improved on the ground, for example through better architecture or planning. Instead we raised our eyes to higher-level questions of the nature of cities and of their governance, which obviously encompassed both developed and developing worlds. We also talked a lot about the factors which made for successful cities, and how such success could best be defined.
Leadership and success
We dwelt a good deal on the importance of mayors. Some thought that a charismatic and visionary mayor was often what made the difference between the success and failure of a major city. A kind of ‘soft dictatorship’, albeit based on free elections, might be the best model for a city. Legitimacy came from delivery of what the citizens wanted, more than from the ballot box. Recent examples from London and New York, among others, were mentioned.
Others were less convinced, pointing out the difficulty of continuity if too much reliance were placed on a single personality and the risk of big mistakes by big figures. They preferred to put the emphasis on good city institutions which could work well with good mayors but also survive bad ones, and on democratic inclusion and broad popular support rather than strong top-down leadership. We could not resolve this difference, but could find more common ground on the need for a clear and shared vision of where a city was going and how it planned to get there. Ambition was important. That could come from a mayor or from a more collective, decentralised approach. In either case, good execution of policies was absolutely vital. Good speeches were never enough.
There was some discussion of where the private sector should fit in. In the big cities of 19th century Britain, it had been the private sector which had in the end taken the lead to install some of the basic services, because public sector governance had essentially been non-existent at the time. But government had still been needed in the end to channel, organise and regulate this activity. We agreed that it could never be a choice between public planning and private enterprise for the development of a city. Both were needed, even if the balance between the two could move around over time. We were currently in a period in some countries where faith in the market’s ability to solve problems had been severely dented, and a greater role for government was back. But it had always been the case that government needed to set the rules to allow the private sector to flourish, solve problems and provide jobs, without undermining basic provision for all. Successful city leaders had to have strong links with business leaders, and to know how to harness their resources and drive.
We also took the view that cities needed to be nimble and flexible, in order to adapt to changing circumstances over time. Some of the great world cities had reinvented themselves several times over their history, and would no doubt go on doing so. Successful cities were also welcoming of newcomers, and tolerant of diversity. There was no optimum size for a city. But mega-cities, well beyond ten million inhabitants, would tend to have mega-problems. We should not neglect the impact and success of second-tier cities, which were often more manageable than big capital cities, and could more easily provide the quality of life which many sought. They needed more attention than they were currently receiving, both from national governments and international bodies.
The importance of geography
We spent a good deal of time on the question of where city boundaries should be drawn, for different purposes, and how much this mattered. Many participants observed that most cities had long outgrown their original administrative boundaries, but that very often these had not been changed significantly. Vested interests and well-established local authorities were often highly resistant to any alteration of city limits. This clearly posed major problems for good governance, not least in areas like transport. If the city itself was relatively small, surrounded by large suburban agglomerations, each with its own municipal authority, the problems of coordination and integration could easily become almost insurmountable. At the same time, a city’s boundaries could not expand indefinitely, and any large city, for example beyond 1-2 million people, needed boroughs with their own authorities to deal with local problems in an efficient and responsive way.
There was no single answer to this, but flexibility was the key. In many cases, the answer had been the establishment of metropolitan authorities covering the area of the expanded city, trying particularly to ensure that as many as possible of those who worked in the city itself, as well as those who lived there, were included in planning for public transport and other basic infrastructure. A single mayor could head the city proper and the metropolitan area too, to ensure coherence of policy and prevent wasteful clashes.
Polycentric cities were even possible, with good cooperation between the different centres. There were some interesting examples from the US, including city cooperation across different state borders. But it would always be harder to make them work well, and they were the result of historical accident rather than planning. Expanding city boundaries in one way or another to fit the population spread better therefore looked like the right way forward, even if this meant that a wider range of people and incomes would have to be encompassed by a single set of city/metropolitan area policies. Inner city dwellers and the suburban masses could easily have different views and priorities, for example. But that should not be an insurmountable political challenge.
Can/should cities die?
We asked ourselves why Darwinism did not really seem to work in the case of cities. Many had completely lost their original economic or geographic raison d’etre, but continued to exist and, in some cases at least, flourish. There were some examples of US cities, or at least towns, which had been effectively abandoned, and Detroit might go the same way. But these were the exceptions. In practice people were very reluctant to leave the places they knew, and mobility of labour was low. Governments therefore strove to keep cities alive, almost come what may. This was probably not the most economically sound or logical approach but it looked unlikely to change in the near future.
Cities and nation states
We agreed that cities increasingly seemed able to take direct action in areas where their nation states might still be hesitating, such as protecting against the effects of climate change. They were clearly also growing political actors in their own right. They were talking to each other about the best ways forward, and forging links which were independent of the contacts between their respective parent states. This was a process likely to continue.
However, to jump from this to the idea that cities would prove to be the main economic and political organisational structure in future, as some were doing, overtaking nation states in the process, seemed to most of us a bridge too far. There were clear limits to what cities could do without the authorisation and protection of their parent countries. They were still politically dependent on the overall policy directions of national governments, and usually financially dependent too. There was unlikely to be any kind of return to the city states which had been the norm, for example in much of Europe, before the birth of the modern nation state. Cities would continue to have to navigate uneasily between the local and the global.
An area of great interest throughout was how to finance cities sustainably. As already suggested, most had only limited ability to raise their own tax revenues, and were only able to tap capital markets to a limited extent, if at all. This was a real problem for investment, particularly in expensive infrastructure, and keeping vital services such as transport going, given that many needed subsidy on a long term basis if they were going to have the necessary mass availability. One way to finance infrastructure was to ensure that consumers paid towards it once the service was actually accessible. Another largely unexploited way forward was through more intelligent land taxation. Too often the added value of land being developed accrued to the private developer and not to the collective. This was controversial politically, and not just in the context of cities, but needed to be looked at more positively and sympathetically. Overall, current land-use policies were seen as too often rigid and short-sighted, and unhelpful to the development of better urban environments.
The future of cities
How would the cities of the future be different from those of today? Some speculated that the trend would be towards more compact cities, for example because of the costs of transport, with less outward sprawl, and more push upwards. Others thought that cities would continue to expand horizontally, under rising population pressures, and the boundaries between urban and rural would continue to erode. Climate change and other environmental and resource shortage pressures would meanwhile force new ways of running cities, less wasteful of energy and materials. For example, shared transport, commonly provided, could be increasingly the norm, with personalised, driver-less pods a possible feature. The key infrastructure of the future city might also be IT-related as much as the traditional aspects of water and power.
What did we need to know in order to improve the functioning of future cities? We struggled with this question. Better data about the financial issues would certainly help. We would obviously have to factor in demographic change, not least aging populations, and the continuing trend towards low density households. We should certainly study more the question of where future urban jobs were going to come from, and what skills would really be needed to fill them. Of course not everything important could be measured quantitatively. Quality of life was hard to define, but crucial and likely to be increasingly so. Better, more integrated planning and design of the urban environment, and of the services which went with it, would be indispensable. Intelligent use of ‘big data’ might prove a productive way forward. Good use of the new social media might also help to produce more shared identity and vision, as well as better services through real-time feedback.
Why do people (still) go to cities?
This was a question which surfaced constantly in one form or another. It might have been imagined that the advent of smart and almost universal IT would have persuaded people that they no longer needed to live and work in a city in order to be connected and successful. They could live in rural bliss and still work closely with everyone they needed to. But remote working still remained very much the exception rather than the rule. Similarly it was not clear that in future cities would be able to offer all the jobs that people wanted. We seemed to be witnessing a polarisation, where the highly skilled at the top, in areas like the communications industries, could succeed and come together in a critical mass in cities; there was also a continuing need for a large workforce at the bottom to keep the basic services running; but there was decreasing scope for those in the middle of the pack to find well-paid and satisfying jobs. This was not just a city problem, but it might be most visible there, and at an earlier stage. It was probably no coincidence that trouble had been breaking out in some very big cities like Rio and Istanbul, where graduate youth unemployment was a huge issue. A new social contract would be needed in future.
Nevertheless the fact was that cities continued to be almost irresistible poles of attraction for many, across the globe, at all levels of society. This was no doubt to a large extent driven by economic opportunity, and better access to major cultural attractions – the lure of fun as well as wealth. Cities could also provide some services more efficiently, with less waste, through obvious economies of scale. The clustering effect for high tech industries could be very valuable. There was also often a need to escape chronic food insecurity, conflict, or natural catastrophe. Desperation could be a push factor as much as aspiration.
But it was clear that something more fundamental in human nature was also at work, bringing people to want to live together in large numbers, despite the negative quality of life issues which this could sometimes bring with it. People liked interacting personally with other people, and this communication of thoughts and ideas was also a source of creativity. But towards the end of the conference we also hit on the idea of city ‘alchemy’ – the opportunity for anyone moving to a city to change and redefine him/herself however he/she chose. This could be as simple as getting away from the constraints of rural or small-town life, where social and cultural norms could be much more rigid, particularly for women, or as complicated as a change of country and identity altogether for international migrants. There seemed no sign of the city losing this catalytic ability to create a buzz, and to empower and free people to fulfil their ambitions, even if many individuals inevitably failed in the process, economically or socially.
There was also a commercial alchemy at work, beyond the traditional city drivers of trade and industry - the chance given by the city for innovative people and companies to interact in an ever-changing way created new products and ideas, and enabled the results to be communicated easily and quickly around the world. The successful cities of the future would be those which continued to attract the restless talent which could make this alchemy work.
We had no neat set of recommendations at the end of our debate. Cities round the world are too diverse for that. But we were agreed that, if urbanisation is an unstoppable force for the foreseeable future, that means we have to do everything to improve what cities have to offer. The keys to that will be vision, ambition, flexibility, openness, and (more practically) innovative ways to finance infrastructure and services. One issue we did not discuss much was security, which is no doubt a reflection of the way in which crime has fallen in many developed country cities in recent years. That was at least one piece of good news.
This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference. No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression.
CHAIR: Professor Tony Travers
London School of Economics and Political Science: Director, British Government @ LSE and of LSE London; Professor, Government Department; Chair, London Finance Commission; Advisor to the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee (and previously to the Education Committee); Board Member, New Local Government Network; Chair, Research Board, Centre for Cities. Formerly: member, Audit Commission (1992-97).
Mr Bruce McCuaig
President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx, Toronto (2010-). Formerly: Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Transportation; Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Mr Tobias Nussbaum
Director General, Development Policy, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development; Co-Chair, OECD International Network on Conflict and Fragility. Formerly: Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2009-10); Director of Operations, Social Policy, Privy Council Office (2008-09).
Mr Joe Berridge
Partner, Urban Strategies Inc., Toronto (1986-); Fellow, Canadian Institute of Planners and Institute of Urban Design; Member, Enabling Panel, UK Commission on Architecture and the Built Environment; Fellow, School of Public Policy and Governance; Lecturer, School of Planning, University of Toronto.
Dr Cynthia Ghorra-Gobin
Director of Research, CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research), Paris, affiliated with CREDA (Centre of research and documentation on the Americas), IHEAL (Institute for Latin American Studies), University of Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle.
Mr Pepijn Verpaalen
Co-founder, Urbanos sustainable urban development, Amsterdam; Board Member, Parlarie; Board Member, Stenen Hoofd. Formerly: Senior Consultant, ICSadviseurs; urban planner.
Mr Khoo Teng Chye
Executive Director, Centre for Liveable Cities, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (2010-); member, Urban Strategy Council, GDF Suez Group. Formerly: Chief Executive, Public Utilities Board (2002-03); Group President, PSA Corporation (1996-2002); CEO/Chief Planner, Urban Redevelopment Authority (1992-96).
Professor Vanessa Watson
University of Cape Town: City and Regional Planning Programme, School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics (1989-); Deputy Dean, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (2011-); Executive Committee, African Centre for Cities (2008-); Founder member, Chair and Co-Chair, Association of African Planning Schools (1999-); Chair and Co-Chair, Global Planning Education Association Network (2008-12); Lead Consultant on UN Habitat Global Report: Planning Sustainable Cities (2009).
Professor Susan Parnell
Urban Geographer; Professor, Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, and Executive of African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town; formerly: Geography Department, Wits University, Johannesburg; School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO/UK/USA
Mr Damien Smith
Senior Policy Advisor (Infrastructure), Cities Policy Unit, Cabinet Office (2011-).
Professor Hüseyin Kaptan
Director and Founder (1970), Atelye 70 Planning and Design Group, Istanbul. Formerly: Founder and Director (2004-08), Istanbul Metropolitan Planning and Urban Design Centre; Consultant, Union of Municipalities of Marmara and Bosphorus; Consultant to Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality; Honorary Chairman, 42.IsoCarp Congress, Istanbul (2006); Chairman and Member of Academic Staff, City and Regional Planning Department, Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul (1995-97).
Professor Michael Ball
Director, Housing Investment and Finance Institute, Henley Business School; Chair, Housing Economics Group, European Network for Housing Research; Lead Panel Member, Housing Markets and Planning Expert Advisory Group, Department of Communities and Local Government (2007-10); Member, Expert Advisory Panel, Barker Review (2006).
Professor Richard Burdett
Director, LSE Cities, and Professor of Urban Studies, London School of Economics and Political Sciences; Global Distinguished Professor, New York University; member: UK Government's Independent Airports Commission; Council of the Royal College of Art, London. Formerly: Chief Adviser on Architecture and Urbanism, Olympic Delivery Authority; Architectural Adviser to the Mayor of London (2001-06); member, Urban Task Force.
Mr Andrew Cox
Chief of Staff, Office of the Executive Director, UN-Habitat, Nairobi. Formerly: UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative and UNFPA Representative, Maldives (2010-13); Chief of Staff, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), New York (2007-10); Head, Resident Coordinator's Office, Head of Sector, UNMIS Nuba Mountains, and Special Adviser to the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, Sudan (2004-07).
Dr Michèle Dix
Transport for London (2000-): Managing Director for Planning (2007-). Formerly: Director of Congestion Charging; Board Director, Halcrow Fox; Transport Planning Graduate Scheme, Greater London Council.
Dame Helen Ghosh DCB
Director General, The National Trust (2012-). Formerly: Permanent Secretary, Home Office; Permanent Secretary, Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs; Cabinet Office (advising on efficiency and propriety issues).
Professor Sir Peter Hall
Bartlett Professor of Planning and Regeneration, Bartlett School of Planning, University College London; Honorary Member, Royal Town Planning Institute; Honorary Fellow, Royal Institute of British Architects; Fellow, British Academy, European Academy; President, Town and Country Planning Association. Formerly: Chair, ReBlackpool (Blackpool Urban Regeneration Company) (2004-08); Member, Expert Advisory Committee to the Barker Review (2006); Member, Deputy Prime Minister's Urban Task Force (1998-99); Chairman, Town and Country Planning Association (1995-99).
Ms Caroline Haynes
A Director, KPMG's Advisory Practice, London; (External Advisor, MSc in Sustainable Urban Development, University of Oxford. Formerly: Advisor to Labour government and to the current UK Chancellor.
Dr Terry Hill CBE FREng FICE MSc
President, International Organization for Standardization (2013-); Chairman, Arup Group Trusts; Founding Advisory Council Member, Infrastructure UK; Chair, Construction Sector Advisory Group, UK Trade and Investment; Non-Executive Board Member, Crossrail Ltd; Advisory Board Member, UK-India Business Council; Audit Group, EPSRC Liveable Cities Programme; Non-Executive Director, Transport Systems Catapult. Formerly: Group Chairman, Arup (2004-09).
Gordon McGranahan PhD
Co-Head, Human Settlements Group, and Team Leader, Urbanisation, International Institute for Environment and Development, London. Formerly: Director, Urban Environment Programme, Stockholm Environment Institute.
Dr Deborah Pullen CEng, IOM3
Group Director - Research, BRE (formerly Building Research Establishment), Watford; Director, Modern Built Environment, Knowledge Transfer Network; Director, BRE Trust Future Cities programme. Formerly: Director of Knowledge Exploitation, BRE; Director, National Composites Network (2004-07); Section Manager – Polymers, Composites and Adhesives, The Welding Institute Limited (2003-07); Group Manager – Polymers, Composites and Adhesives, QinetiQ (1995-2003).
Professor Bill Randolph
Director, City Futures Research Centre, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of New South Wales (2004-). Formerly: Director, Urban Frontiers Program, University of Western Sydney; Head of Research, National Housing Federation, London.
Professor Lina Song
Professor of Economic Sociology and Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham (1999-). Formerly: Editorial Board Member, China Economic Review (2001-10); Institute of Economics and Statistics (now Department of Economics), University of Oxford; Research Institute of Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Research Group for Studying China's Rural Development.
Sir Crispin Tickell GCMG KCVO
Formerly: Director, Policy Foresight Programme, Oxford Martin School (formerly James Martin 21st Century School), University of Oxford (2006-10); Chancellor, University of Kent (1996-2006); Chairman, Climate Institute of Washington DC (1990-2002); Member, British Government Task Force on Urban Regeneration (1998-99); Warden, Green College Oxford (1990-97); British Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York (1987-90); Permanent Secretary, Overseas Development Administration (now DfID) (1984-87); British Ambassador to Mexico (1981-83). A Governor and a member of the Council of Management, The Ditchley Foundation.
Dr Wei Yang
Managing Director, Wei Yang & Partners Ltd (2011-); UK Principal Planning Expert (secondment by UK FCO/UKTI), Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban Rural Development (2013-); Co-Chair, UK-China Eco-Cities and Green Building Group (2013-); Academician, Academy of Urbanism (2009-); Board Trustee, Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre (2009-).
Dr Jerrold Green
President and Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Council on International Policy, Los Angeles; Research Professor of Communications and Business, University of Southern California. Formerly: Partner and Executive Vice President for International Operations, Best Associates, Dallas; Director of International Programs and Development, RAND Corporation.
Mr Ben Hecht
President and CEO, Living Cities, Inc. (2007-). Formerly: Co-Founder and President, One Economy Corporation (2000-07); Senior Vice President, Enterprise Foundation (1996-2000); Director, Harrison Institute for Public Law, Georgetown University Law Center (1986-1996).
Mr John McCartin
Fulbright Scholar: Candidate, Master of Research in Architecture, University of Strathclyde. Formerly: Special Assistant to City Councilman Robert Curran, Baltimore, MD (2012-13); Landscape Architectural Associate, Mahan Rykiel Associates, Baltimore, MD (2011-13); Intern, Southeast Community Development Corp., Baltimore, MD (2011-12).
Mr Robert McNulty
Founder (1975), President and CEO, Partners for Livable Communities, Washington DC; member of Congregation, University of Oxford; teaching graduate students in elective modules courses, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford (2011-); Writer, Editor and Contributor on Urban Strategies; Civic Strategist. Formerly: Fellow, School of Design, Harvard University; Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Architecture, Columbia University; Guest Fellow, Pierson College, Yale.
Mr David Riemer
Senior Fellow, Public Policy Institute, Community Advocates, Wisconsin. Formerly: Director, Wisconsin Health Project (2004-07); Budget Director, State of Wisconsin (2002-03); Director of Administration, City of Milwaukee (1996-2002) (1988-93); Chief of Staff to Mayor John Norquist (1993-96). A member of the Advisory Council, The American Ditchley Foundation.
The Honorable Donna Shalala PhD
Professor of Political Science and President of the University of Miami; member: Council on Foreign Relations; American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Formerly: US Secretary of Health and Human Services (1993-2001); Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1987-93); President, Hunter College, City University of New York (1980-87); professorships at: Columbia University, City University of New York, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (1977-80).
Dr Sameh Wahba
World Bank (2004-): Sector Manager, Urban Development and Resilience Unit, Sustainable Development Network. Formerly: Sustainable Development Sector Leader for Brazil; Senior Urban Specialist in the Latin America and Caribbean and Middle East and North Africa Regions; Urban and Housing Specialist, Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, Rotterdam (2002-03), and the Harvard Center for Urban Development Studies, Cambridge, MA (1997-2002).