Earlier this summer, Bruce Katz delivered a TEDx talk in Hamburg, Germany with a succinct message: The metropolitan revolution has gone global. And its logical conclusion is an inversion of the current hierarchy of power so that cities lead and nations follow.
With many cities lacking for national leadership and funding, metropolitan regions are regaining their historic strength. Now that over half the world lives in cities, and urban areas generate essentially half the world’s GDP, cities have achieved the economic might to reassert their traditional status as power centers of commerce and policy innovation.
Across the world, countries are recognizing that city-led, nationally supported policies are more effective, efficient, and democratic than one-size fits all policy prescriptions delivered from remote central governments. Katz argues that in the spirit of England’s city devolution debates and Denmark’s efforts to resize and empower metropolitan governments, the United States should fight to make our national and state governments platform-setters for functions cities can’t perform—e.g. environmental protection, food safety, and the social safety net—and let cities drive the rest.
The takeaway, as Katz says: “City power and problem solving are going to define this century the same way that national power and problem solving defined the last …. Embrace the metropolitan revolution.”