Introduction by Ash Amin: “….More than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities, and this figure is expected to rise to 70% by 2050. World affairs and city affairs have become deeply enmeshed, and what goes on within cities – their economic productivity, environmental footprint, cultural practices, social wellbeing, and political stability – affects the world at large. They shape the weather and are the weathervane of our times, so getting them right matters. But what this involves and how far it is within reach is by no means clear….
Thus, while the international policy community may confidently call for cities to be made ‘inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ in the way headlined in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it tends to underestimate the challenges of achieving traction in a distributed, plural and often hidden force field. A number of pressing questions arise. Should state effort focus on comprehensive master plans and general infrastructures and services, or on strategic risks and vulnerabilities, while coordinating risks? What are the limits and limitations of state action, and how is the balance between the general and the specific or the communal
and sectionalist to be found? What is the relationship between central authority plans and the communities who are to benefit, and how can neighbourhood knowledge and effort be supported amidst policy neglect or corporatist calculation? Is it possible to reconcile strategic and democratic goals in the twenty first-century city of multiple logics, demands and actors?…(More)”.