The planet is becoming increasingly urban. In many ways, the urbanization wave and the unprecedented urban growth of the last twenty years have created a state of urgency for action and impetus for change. While 54 percent of the world population or 3.9 billion people live in urban areas today, it has become clear that "business as usual" is no longer possible.
In this new configuration, great hope and expectations are placed on local governments. While central governments are subject to instability and political changes, local governments are seen as more inclined to stay the course and, because they are closer to the people, the voice of the people is more clearly heard for a true democratic debate over the choice of neighborhood investments and the choice of city-wide policies and programs.
In a context of skewed financial resources and of incredibly complex urban challenges (which range from the provision of basic traditional municipal services to issues of social inclusion, economic development/city branding, smart technologies, and green investments), cities are searching for more effective and more innovative ways to deal with new and old problems.
Better Cities, Better World is at the heart of this debate. It outlines a grid for analysis, a framework for databased policy dialogue, and a common language which, for the first time, helps connect the dots between investments programming (urban audit/self-assessment) and financing (municipal finances self-assessment). The volume offers a bit of everything for everyone. City leaders and policy makers will find the sections on "Objectives and Content" instructive and informative, as each issue is placed in its context. Municipal staff in charge of day-to-day management will find that the sections on "Tasks" and the detailed step-by-step "walk" through the process gives them the pragmatic know-how they need.