The centre aims to increase public-private collaboration in cities and advance a more inclusive and sustainable model for urban development, drawing on the forum’s network.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) is establishing a global centre for urban transformation, headquartered in the US city of Detroit, Michigan. It aims to increase public-private collaboration in cities and advance a more inclusive and sustainable model for urban development.
WEF said it will leverage its global network of companies, governments, civil society organisations and academic institutions to support cities as they seek to rebuild their economies and forge more resilient communities.
This includes mobilising the global business community to commit expertise and resources in support of local communities, exploring new approaches to expand urban services and economic opportunity in low-income and traditionally marginalised communities.
Bedrock, Detroit’s largest real estate company, will host the Centre for Urban Transformation’s work, providing a testbed to rethink and redefine the benefits and possibilities of urban living. Additional work will be led out of WEF’s offices in Beijing, Geneva, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.
“Around the globe, cities are facing unprecedented challenges from Covid-19 to climate change, exposing deep systemic inequities,” said Jeff Merritt, head of urban transformation, World Economic Forum. “As we chart a course towards a more sustainable and equitable future, government cannot carry this burden alone; increased public-private cooperation is essential.
“Detroit is uniquely positioned to serve as the epicentre for this work – a hub for urban transformation and innovation that the world can look to for guidance and inspiration.”
“Michigan has led the way in bringing together public and private sectors to creatively solve issues from transportation to small business relief for decades”
The centre will launch in October 2021 with a series of events and announcements, showcasing innovative models of urban transformation from around the globe. As part of these events, WEF and Bedrock will convene thought leaders, practitioners, and community leaders for a kick-off discussion on plans to foster job growth and entrepreneurship in Detroit’s new Innovation District.
City leaders can sign up to receive updates and invitations to launch events hosted by the World Economic Forum in October at: TakeAction.city
Governor Gretchen Whitmer congratulated the City of Detroit and thanked everyone who championed the city as home of WEF’s Urban Transformation. She added: “Michigan has led the way in bringing together public and private sectors to creatively solve issues from transportation to small business relief for decades and Detroit is the perfect place to leverage that approach to improving urban living worldwide.”
Maimunah Mohd Sharif, executive director of UN-Habitat, highlighted that by 2030, six out of every 10 people in the world are expected to reside in cities and said “we need an urgent change in mindsets, policies, and approaches towards urbanisation to ensure nobody is left behind”.
“As we chart a course towards a more sustainable and equitable future, government cannot carry this burden alone; increased public-private cooperation is essential”
She continued: “We look forward to working with the World Economic Forum to advance the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goal 11 to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”
Kevin Johnson, president and CEO, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), said: “Building an inclusive economy in Detroit is a priority for the DEGC, and we embrace new partners that are equally committed to creating a major metropolitan city where everyone can thrive.”
“Whether its small business or large corporations, our focus is on overcoming the barriers to access – be it capital, education, real estate or jobs – and support from a global resource like the WEF will create new opportunities for solutions. We are looking forward to working together on advancing Detroit.”