Prosperity Focus of New State of the World’s Cities Report

Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: SEHAB
[6 September 2012] -- Development actors need to explore a more inclusive notion of prosperity and development, finds The State of the World’s Cities 2012/2013: The Prosperity of Cities, the latest of UN-Habitat’s flagship reports.
According to the report, there is a need for a shift in attention around the world in favour of a more robust notion of development – one that looks beyond the narrow domain of economic growth that has dominated ill-balanced policy agendas over the last decades, and includes other vital dimensions such as quality of life, adequate infrastructures, equity and environmental sustainability.
 “The cities of the future should be ones that are capable of integrating the tangible and more intangible aspects of prosperity, in the process shedding off the inefficient, unsustainable forms and functionalities of the city of the previous century or so and becoming the engine rooms of growth and development, said Dr Joan Clos, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat.
The publication underscores that cities can best respond to the multiple financial, economic, environmental, social and political crises facing the world today because:
  • They are in the best position to boost production in the real sector of the economy at local level, with attendant employment and income generation.
  • They can act as the fora where the linkages, trust, respect and inclusiveness that are part of any remedy to the crisis can be built.


  •  Acting locally in different areas and spaces, city responses to the crisis can be structured and included in national agendas for more efficiency, with better chances of flexible responses and more beneficial effects.


  • They are in more privileged positions than national governments to negotiate and agree on responses with local stakeholders.


  • They can forge new partnerships and local social pacts which, in turn, can strengthen national governments.
In order to measure track the prosperity of cities UN-Habitat has launched the City Prosperity Index (CPI), which measures five dimensions of prosperity: productivity, infrastructure, quality of life, equity and environmental sustainability. Used together with a new conceptual matrix titled the Wheel of Prosperity, the index aims to help decision makers identify opportunities for prosperity and design clear policy interventions.

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