Cities face and share many challenges and opportunities. What are some of the big issues they face now and what can we learn from these? In a series of three short presentations we look at the challenge of China; the way blackness is shaping new identities in cities; and how cities can make innovation work for them.
Bruno Maçães (a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a former Europe minister of Portugal) has been researching the future of Europe and Asia for the past five years. His books – The Dawn of Eurasia and Belt and Road – argue that the Chinese Belt and Road (covering almost 70 countries by land and sea) is the most ambitious geopolitical initiative of the age, affecting every element of global society, from shipping to agriculture, digital economy to tourism, politics to culture. Most importantly, it symbolises a new phase in China’s ambitions as a superpower: to remake the world economy and crown Beijing as the new centre of capitalism and globalisation. Maçães talks about the cities of the new Silk Road, China’s influence on cities worldwide and what this means for the rest of us.
Johny Pitts looks at how blackness is shaping European cities. Pitts, author of Afropean – a book about areas (mostly cities) where Europeans of African descent are juggling their multiple allegiances and forging new identities – provides an alternative map of the continent, taking the reader to places like Cova Da Moura, the Cape Verdean shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon with its own underground economy, and Rinkeby, the area of Stockholm that is eighty percent Muslim. Pitts talks about the former Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where West African students are still making the most of Cold War ties with the USSR, and Clichy Sous Bois in Paris, which gave birth to the 2005 riots, all the while presenting Afropeans as lead actors in their own story. He talks especially about what this means for Bristol.
There’s been much talk for some years about cities of innovation, how digital creativity is replacing the old industries, creating new work and ways of working in cities. Roxana Slavcheva (Connected Places Catapult and former Head of City Practices at the Economist Intelligence Unit) looks at cities as hubs for innovation, how these hubs have evolved over time and what attributes make some innovation locations more successful than others in this evolutionary process.
Each one looks at the challenges and opportunities, helping set the agenda for thinking about and debating the future of cities.
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