Future of Cities

Generated on 19th March 2019

Cities are where innovation happens, where ideas form and where economic growth largely stems. They are where most of us live and are also where significant problems can emerge as well as where challenges can be magnified. Cities around the world are now wrestling with reducing air pollution, congestion and inequality, but they are also becoming test-beds for innovation that is then shared globally. Building on previous research, the Future Agenda team focused in depth on the Future of Cities via 12 discussions in 9 key cities between November 2014 and March 2017.



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This report shares the findings from this Future of Cities Open Foresight research project. It identifies and discusses some common challenges found in most urban areas today, and also explores several shared ambitions to create more healthy, accessible and intelligent cities. In addition, it highlights several important emerging concerns such as improving safety, resilience and collaboration. Some of the issues addressed are specific to key locations but most are universal and therefore of relevance to most cities.


Cities grow because they are centres of opportunity. Leaders are seeking to better understand the salient issues for the future and so improving planning and action.

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Shared Ambitions

Many urban leaders seek similar opportunities for improving their cities – making them healthier, more accessible and also more intelligent.

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Common Challenges

There are three significant, inter-related, macro drivers of change that are common challenges impacting the majority of the world’s cities today.

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Emerging Concerns

Three key issues were seen as major areas where future resource needs to be focused. Leading examples highlight that momentum is building.

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This is an accompanying presentation used for public conferences and to kick off briefings within organisations. It provides a summary of the research and highlights some of the key insights. It is available to download both as a PDF and also to view on SlideShare.

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The 10 Billion Population Challenge

A keynote at EmTech Asia Singapore exploring how cities will cope with the challenge of increasing migration and urbanisation. Linking together insights from the Future of Cities projects and additional Future Agenda research to share some of the key issues around providing enough energy, food and water in the right places.

Keynote video: The 10 billion population challenge

The 10 Billion Population Challenge  - A keynote at EmTech Asia Singapore

Keynote video: Smart Cities – Smarter Citizens?

A keynote given at the “Zero Emission Cities” event in Vienna in 2014 focused on shifts in the focus of smart cities. Contrast is made between what is being embedded in city infrastructures to make them more intelligent and efficient and how people in cities can use, share and interpret data to make more intelligent decisions.

Smart Cities – Smarter Citizens?


Our Partners

Connected Places Catapult
Royal College of Art
York University, Toronto – Lassonde School of Engineering
Warwick Business School
LSESU United Nations Society
Smart City Wien

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