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City States – how do they reshape our world?

A discussion with Klaus Wowereit and Parag Khanna

As the world’s cities become ever larger, their economic significance for the world, but also their political power, is also increasing. How does a world dominated by cities look like, and what do cities have to do to manage their rapid growth?

Those were some of the questions addressed at Asia Society Switzerland event on the “Rise of the City States” by Klaus Wowereit, former mayor of Berlin, and Parag Khanna, global strategist and author, whose latest book «Connectography» explores how urbanization is reshaping the world.

There was no question among the panelists that urbanization is a trend that will continue unabatedly for decades to come. Parag Khanna argued that the rise of cities is creating a world where connectivity - through pipelines, energy, internet cables or flight connections - matters much more than political borders. He described China, where urbanization is happening on an unprecedented scale and with breath-taking speed, as an “empire of mega-cities”, with the central government in Beijing giving more and more economic authority to its cities to let them thrive and innovate.

Klaus Wowereit, who oversaw Berlin’s rise to one of Europe’s most-discussed cities, echoed the need for more fiscal autonomy for cities, but also cautioned that cities have to be mindful of the larger political entity they are a part of. He also emphasized the importance for cities to remain culturally diverse and inclusive, and to not sacrifice their quality of life for unhinged growth.
 

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»Read the interview with Parag Khanna «Cities always want to support each other», on the irreversible trend of urbanization, and what it means for the world.

»Download Parag Khanna's presentation