Today, more than half of the world’s 7bn population lives in cities. By 2030, the number of people who are city dwellers will have risen to more than 5bn, according to the United Nations. The explosive growth of cities not only marks one of the most significant demographic trends of the 21st century, it also raises exponentially the pressure on urban areas in every continent to provide the necessary services and amenities to make modern communities work.
These economic, social and political challenges provide the background to the decision by the Financial Times to publish a series of three magazines on urban ingenuity to accompany a global awards scheme run jointly by the FT and Citi, the US financial services giant. The FT/Citi Ingenuity Awards: Urban Ideas in Action programme will recognise ingenious individuals or organisations that have developed solutions to urban challenges in the fields of education, healthcare, energy and infrastructure. Insead, the international business school, is the research partner for the awards.
This, the first Urban Ingenuity magazine, focuses on energy and infrastructure, featuring profiles of some of the strongest candidates for the awards. The FT has also invited opinion formers and other experts to make their own contribution to the debate on how best to address the 21st century urban challenge. Videos, published on FT.com, accompany this magazine.
A second magazine and set of videos will be published in September. Their focus will be on education and healthcare, the essential services without which cities can neither function nor thrive. Finally, the FT will publish a third magazine, with accompanying videos, to provide the backdrop to the awards, which will be announced in December.
I am delighted that the FT is bringing its global reach and reputation to support this important publishing initiative, on one of the most important themes of our age.