World continents




Cities have never prospered as much as in the past three decades. In 2008, for the first time in history, more than 50% of the world's population called an urban area home. Accounting for approximately 70% of global GDP, cities drive the world's economy and are vibrant engines of opportunity, commerce, culture, and an improved quality of life.

Yet this major shift toward cities has created critical challenges. In the Global South and East, the scale and pace of urbanization is straining physical infrastructure, fiscal capacity, and natural resources in many places. It is challenging institutional and political structures that often lack the capacity and flexibility to respond to fast-paced growth. Meanwhile, cities in the Global North and West are also facing challenges, including finding efficient ways of retrofitting and upgrading outdated infrastructure. Regardless of the region, the pressing issues of cities are collectively becoming the pressing issues of the planet: climate change; achieving economic, social, and environmental sustainability; and building a better quality of life.

In spite of the challenges, cities remain hotbeds for innovation and reinvention. New infrastructure and urban development models are emerging that are scalable and engage citizens, industry leaders and policy makers alike. They draw on new technologies and information systems to do more with less; use public-private partnerships and innovative financing structures; test unconventional processes and business models; creatively reuse outdated assets; and make multiple uses of existing infrastructure. In short, they are transformational.

Since there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to urban infrastructure, the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Urban Development in 20112-2012, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 sought to highlight some of the new models of city-making for the benefit of urban leaders across the world. To this end, the Council developed Urban Anthologies: Learning from Our Cities. Urban Anthologies is a series of booklets showcasing transformational models of infrastructure and urban development. The series is a user-friendly tool, designed to equip mayors and other private sector leaders with the information necessary to transform their own communities and ignite further dialogue.

The success stories in Urban Anthologies are drawn from cities and communities of varying typologies across the world—from mature cities, to fast-growing ones, to cities dealing with economic transition, to new greenfield cities. They focus on the critical interventions, applied technologies, key performance outcome measures, local governance, and creative processes that will be good for people and the planet alike. Each story was selected for its proven impact, replicability, and scalability.

The 21st century will be the "century of the city." The World Economic Forum and members of the Global Agenda Council for Urban Development intend that mayors, ministers, urban leaders, city planners, civic leaders, and industry leaders determine for themselves how these success stories can be adapted to other urban settings, how to implement infrastructure planning decisions at the right time, and how to construct public projects in the most efficient manner to ensure advancement of community goals and improved quality of life. In this way, the "century of the city" will be one marked by prosperity, inclusion, partnership, and sustainability.


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Rob Adams A.M.
Vice Chair - Director
City Design, City of Melbourne
- Australia


Taffy Adler
Housing Development Agency (HDA)
- South Africa


Rohit T. Aggarwala
Special Advisor to the Chair
C40 Cities Climate
Leadership Group - USA


John Alschuler
C40 Cities Climate
HR&A Advisors - USA


Samer I. Asfour
Director, Government Secto for Emerging Marketsr; Director, Thought Leadership and Research, ME Public Sector Institute; Middle Market Leader, Iraq PwC - Jordan
Twitter: @samerasfour


Chan Heng Chee
Ministry of Foreign Afairs of Singapore
- Singapore


Charles Doyle
Chief Marketing Officer,
Jones Lang LaSalle
- United Kingdom
Twitter: @cjadoyle


Fahd Al Rasheed
Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board
King Abdullah Economic City
- Saudi Arabia
Twitter: @cjadoyle


Babatunde Raji Fashola
Governor of Lagos
- Nigeria


Gordon Feller
Urban Innovation
Cisco Systems Inc. - USA


Edward Glaeser
Professor of Economics
Harvard University
Twitter: @cjadoyle


Nancy Kete
Managing Director, Resilience
Rockefeller Foundation


Terry Hill
Chairman Global Transport
Market Arup Group Ltd.
- United Kingdom


Abha Joshi-Ghani
Sector Manager Urban Development
and Local Government Unit,
Sustainable Development
The World Bank - USA


Mario Augusto Noriega Toledo
Mario Noriega y Asociados Ltd.
- Colombia


Konrad Otto-Zimmermann
Secretary-General ICLEI
Local Governments
for Sustainability - Germany


Carlo Ratti
MIT Senseable City Lab


Paul M. Romer
Professor of Economics
NYU Stern School of Business


Adèle Naudé Santos
Chair - Architect,
Urban Designer and Dean,
MIT - School of Architecture
and Planning - USA


Varun Sivaram
Urban Designer and Dean,
McKinsey & Company


Felipe Kast Sommerhof
Presidential Delegate for Chilean Reconstruction
Ministry of Housing and Urbanism
- Chili
Twitter: @felipekast


Mats Williamson
Executive Vice-President
Skanska AB
- Sweden


Scot Wrighton
City Manager
Lavasa Corporation Limited
- India


Melanie Walker
Deputy Director,
Special Initiatives
Bill & Melinda Gates


With Support From

Prudence Robinson
Partner Strategist |
Research Fellow
MIT Senseable City Lab - USA

Robin Ried
Global Agenda Council
Manager Senior Community
Manager, Infrastructure &
Urban Development +
Global Leadership Fellow
World Economic Forum

Tiffany Misrahi
Research Analyst
Global Agenda Councils
World Economic Forum

Otto C L Ng
Design Strategy
Project Designer
MIT Senseable City Lab - USA

Kael Greco
Graduate Researcher
MIT Senseable City Lab - USA

Anthony Vanky
Partner Strategist, Graduate Researcher
MIT Senseable City Lab - USA

studio FM milano
Graphic Design

Puritan Press
New Hampshire USA

With Contributors

Romy Barberi Gomez
General Director of Economic
& Social Development Trust
- Mexico City

Fausto Lugo
General Director of
Emergency Dispatch &
Civil Protection Center
- Mexico City

Josie Adler
Urban Management Consultant
Johannesburg - South Africa

Sofie Profit
Green Development Director
Skanska AB - Sweden

Diana Lam,
co-authored Formalizing the informal in SoHo - Transformation of a neighborhood, in fits and starts

Uwe Nienstedt,
co-authored Housing and Social Change - Designing a new city with inclusiveness in mind

Rosemary Feenan and Deepak Bhavsar,
co-authored Informing Informality: The Missing Link - Increasing objectivity through data and evidence

Matthew Claudel,
co-authored Informal 2.0, Tracking Trash

Victor Vergara and Mark Hirschboeck,
co-authored IParticipatory Budgeting

Federica Ranghieri and Mark Hirschboeck ,
co-authored Learning from Crises

Christina Bain and Louise Shelley,
co-authored Combatting Human Trafficking through Innovation and Impact

Rosemary Feenan,
co-authored The World's Most Virtual City, Respondingto the Challenges of Rapid Urbanization and Adjusting for New Global Opportunities

Hardik Bhatt,
co-authored Addressing infrastructure revitalization through private sector investment partnership

Poon King Wang and Jun Jie Woo,
co-authored Fighting SARS and Learning and Innovating during Financial Crises

Carmen Barbati,
co-authored From Urban Decline to the World's Most Liveable City and From Heat Island to a "City in a Forest"

Anya Brickman Raredon,
Jose Jaime Samper Escobar,
Viktorija Abolina,
Eric Baczuk