HSBC Cities of the Future 2019

HSBC Cities of the Future Paris November 2019 – A reflection.

Cities perform so many important functions in our modern world that it is easy to overlook several of them.

Cities are places of togetherness, community, identity, and belonging. We all know the city where we live now, or the city we are from. The city and its community gives us part of our identity. They are favourite gathering places that become part of who we are. This gathering up that cities do, makes other things possible. It allows us to share common amenities; schools, hospitals, trains, roads, airports and ports, shops, parks and cultural centres. Without the gathering effects of cities, none of the services and amenities are possible. Quality of life is a function of these shared systems.

Cities also make economies work. They are places of exchange, platforms for trade, and the scale and competition within cities increases the effectiveness of labour markets, supply chains, and the rate of entrepreneurship. As cities grow they produce more jobs, and their learning institutions increase the productivity of workers. Cities are also magnets for talent, anchoring the corridors and flows of people who seek opportunity. Cities match up customers and suppliers so that they find the best fit easily. Moreover, cities are sites of discovery and innovation, the drive to trade, compete, and be first, spurs innovation so that cities become laboratories of invention.

Other things being equal, cities are good for us and good for our planet. Cities are able to use resources efficiently by increasing the way we share them. Land, energy, water, and food can all be shared optimally in cities. Cities can reduce waste. But we must be careful because cities can create dirt and heat, and the waste produced by vehicles, buildings, industries, and jobs can be toxic and become concentrated in damaging ways. Good cities are good for us, but bad cities can be very damaging.

In the current moment, just as our cities surge in size and citizens, we also have a new friend. Markets, Factories, Elevators, Electric Railways, are some of the technologies that help build cities in the past. Today, new advanced technologies, combined with investment in systems, good governance and visionary planning, help to leverage and optimise the advantages of the city, and make them real. AI and IoT based platforms, new sources of energy and materials, and advanced mobility systems can make our cities easier to navigate, cheaper to run, more accessible to citizens and customers, and much more resource and waste efficient.

We are on a journey to City 4.0; a city that combines the technology of the 4th industrial revolution with the new resource systems of sustainable development, and the enlightened citizens of the 21st Century. In the city these things can come together.

Now wonder then that people want to talk about city; the place and the services that if offers, and the opportunities it provides for talent, trade, and investment. Our gathering in Paris of 300 clients focussed on the opportunity of wise urbanisation. We addressed urban growth and mega-regions, new talent corridors, and city demographics. We reviewed the new age of trade and ports in cities and the means to achieve a fully decarbonised city. People came from all over the world to share their knowledge, do new business, and make friends.

More than anything this conference was a gathering. Large and small firms, financial institutions and investors, entrepreneurs and asset managers. The gathering made real the profound opportunity of collaboration and the strength of well-managed networks. HSBC knows cities, and HSBC’s clients are building and servicing successful cities across the world. Through cities we foster shared prosperity. Together we thrive.

Prof Greg Clark
CBE FAcSS Senior Advisor, Future Cities & New Industries, HSBC


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For more information about HSBC Cities of the Future 2019 – Smarter Connections – Concurrent , please contact your HSBC representative.