This month, hundreds of enlightened planners, urbanists, and economists will be flocking to Stockholm to partake in Future Cities, a two-day conference that hopes to answer the questions and problems that have arisen as a result of fast urbanizing global society. According to the conference’s website, there are many reasons why such a colloquium is needed: cities house half of the world’s population and gain 5 million new residents every week. Many of these fast growing cities, particularly those in China and India, are forcing our society to re-examine the way we distribute resources, respect the environment, and organize new and existing infrastructure. Future Cities hopes to showcase and produce new methods of designing, engineering, managing, and financing cities through more sustainable practices.
Conference organizer and Head of Programmes at The Economist (the conference’s chief sponsor), Dougal Thomson, is confident that this year’s event will inspire delegates and spark conversation and dialogue. “We want our delegates to walk away with insight and connections,” said Thomson, “we expect them to participate actively in discussions … which will enable them to make smarter decisions – the right strategic decisions; the right investment decisions; the right policy decisions.” Thomson also noted the conference site as being an important case study in discussing and reviewing successful and upcoming sustainable urban developments, such as Hammarby Sjöstad and the Stockholm Royal Seaport. “Scandinavia is globally recognized for its progressive approach towards urban development,” said Thomson, “we wanted to host the conference there to explore the factors behind this success … there are lessons there for the rest of the world.”
Furthermore, the conference will host a who’s who of municipal government officials from both around Europe and the rest of the world. Expected presenters include city officials from San Francisco and Hong Kong, the mayors of Oslo, Budapest, Hyderabad, Rio de Janeiro, and Dar es Salaam (to name a few); and some of the top architects, planners, and economists in the industry (including Jan Gehl, Edward Glaeser, and Alfonso Vegara). “There is a huge interest in comparing the experience of city governments worldwide,” noted Thomson, who hopes that the congress of mayors will help one another compare and “benchmark their various approaches to urban planning” and see how each can improve. Thomson also hopes that the addition of “leading gurus in smart technology, strategic planning, design” and related industries will help to “[spark] new ideas for practical ways to enhance cities.” The mix of public and private sector inputs is sure to produce some incredibly innovative and practical results for the way we view, handle, and plan for contemporary urban growth.
Future Cities: Creating Tomorrow’s Urban World will be held in Stockholm from 18th-19th October. Visit the conference website for more information, discover ways to get involved, and to register.