Celebrating our Kiwi cities on the world stage
[27 May 2011]
How new world cities are knocking the traditional powerhouses down the list and balanced economies and strong quality of life offer an attractive alternative. Good news for our Kiwi cities.
A new report by PwC offers some important lessons for our global cities as they move to leverage their metropolitan areas as key economic enablers for New Zealand.
In the fourth edition of Cities of Opportunity, we see a real shift from traditional powerhouses to smaller cities that may not immediately come to mind when one thinks of global business centres. This report shows how some of these smaller cities have perhaps weathered the economic crisis better than London, Paris and Tokyo, but also how business and people are migrating to cities that offer a high quality of life, balanced between professional opportunities, an awareness of sustainability concerns at the local level of government, good public transit and housing as well as lower costs of living.
With global urban migration changing city profiles quickly, and good people freer to move around the world and work in cities they favour, we think there's a lesson for cities that think historic dominance in any sector will carry them into the future automatically.
What makes a successful city today is quite complex. The cities of the future will be those that are working hard to do well on many fronts.
What does this mean for New Zealand?
You will see in the New Zealand supplement, the good news for New Zealand is, cities with balanced economies and a strong quality of life, offer an attractive alternative to the traditional power house cities. To enhance attractiveness, central government and our cities need to continue focusing on three critical types of infrastructure:
- Physical e.g. transport
- Economic e.g. focus on high value industries
- Social e.g. educational programmes that enhance attainment
“Strength in all three is a prerequisite from a study perspective for our cities to not only create both a better quality of life but also greater economic success.
New Zealand is also not alone when considering the question of regionalization. Currently this is being addressed in Auckland through the establishment of the Auckland Council and a number of regional based studies across the country, as modern urban thinking can only be effective if it is framed in terms of cohesive urban regions,” says PwC Director David Walker.
PwC’s Chairman John Shewan says “ The Cities of Opportunity study reinforces the view that changes in communications, knowledge-sharing, transportation and urban migration are transforming world dynamics; cities that want to thrive need to adapt to these changes. New Zealand’s future success will be reliant on our cities addressing these challenges, the good news is size is no longer a predictor of influence.”
The report also highlights some interesting learnings around development and preservation. “The past is hot in the present,” says Mr Walker. According to the report, the importance of creativity, architecture and planning in creating a city with character and quality urban design, can’t be underestimated. Disasters that destroy large areas of cities can also result in opportunities to rebuild and create beautiful cities through careful planning and creativity.
“Looking to the art deco successes of the Hawkes Bay following the 1931 Napier earthquake, New Zealand has a major opportunity to achieve this with the re-build of Christchurch,” adds Mr Walker.
Cities of Opportunity outcomes
New York leads the 2011 study, which analyzes and ranks how 26 global centres of finance, business and culture perform across 10 key indicators. But it is followed closely in the top five by Toronto, San Francisco, Stockholm and Sydney -- cities more notable for quality of life and balance than global business dominance.
Their performance is impressive: Toronto does broadly well, making the top five in seven out of ten indicators; San Francisco also shows strong balance in its first year in the study, finishing in the top four in six out of ten indicators; Stockholm falls in the top three in half the indicators, including three number ones; Sydney climbs two places this year, finishing top three in two indicators.
While these cities cannot match the size or economic clout of longstanding commercial hubs like London, New York, Paris or Tokyo, their performance highlights a changing global dynamic. Modern cities are less dependent on geography and historic connections and more reliant on holistic approaches to attracting and keeping creative minds and cutting-edge businesses that will build the future with fresh eyes.
Traditional heavy weight cities -- London, number six this year and first in economic clout, Paris, number eight overall and first in transportation and infrastructure, and Tokyo, number 14 overall -- retain their power and allure. But they do not congregate at the top as might reflexively be assumed based on recent history. New York, despite finishing first, hardly dominates. It leads because of balanced performance across the indicators, likely a key to the city's continued economic resilience, and outstanding performance in measures of intellectual capital, lifestyle assets and technology readiness.
The Cities of Opportunity key indicators and top three cities in each are:
- Intellectual capital and innovation--Stockholm, Toronto, New York/San Francisco (tied for 3rd)
- Technology readiness--New York, Seoul, Stockholm
- Transportation and infrastructure--Paris, Chicago, New York
- Demographics and liveability--Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto
- Economic clout--London, Paris, New York
- Cost--Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago
- Lifestyle assets--New York, Paris, London
- Health, safety and security--Stockholm, Toronto, Chicago
- Ease of doing business--Hong Kong, Singapore, New York
- Sustainability--Berlin, Sydney, Stockholm
This shift is reflected in the composition of the report’s top five cities since its first release in 2007. In that year, New York and Tokyo ranked first and second; London and Paris tied for third, with Toronto rounding out the top cities. In 2008, London moved up to second place, replacing Tokyo, which dropped from the top five. Last year, Singapore took the third spot from Chicago, behind New York and London, with Chicago and Paris tied for fourth.