‘Cities and Crisis’: An invitation to a discussion

Cities and Crisis, a new book by former OECD head of urban affairs and regulatory policy Joseph Konvitz, outlines how cities are vulnerable to crises, and what should be done in response. An interview with the author is available on the CITYLAB website:  http://www.citylab.com/politics/2016/05/the-role-of-cities-in-preventing-crisis/483746/

The interview covers a lot of interesting material, and also conveys some strong claims about cities, economics and innovation. According to the interviewer, Konvitz attributes the 2008 global financial crises to factors such as ‘under-investment in infrastructure, low levels of research and innovation, spiky levels of urbanization, uneven development, and a significant increase in income inequality’.  Elsewhere, Konvitz states that ‘Just because urban housing markets in some countries led to the housing crisis in 2007-2008, it would be a gross mistake to generalize that there is something fundamentally wrong about modern urban development.’ Later, he claims that ‘The problems of cities do not start with the growth of manufacturing in China. They start at home.’ This appears to react directly to theories, such as those advanced by geographer David Harvey, that relate urban decay and unemployment to changes in the global economy, and the powerful interests controlling it. 

What do you think? Do the causes of the 2008 financial crisis include a lack of research and innovation? Is there something fundamentally wrong about modern urban development? Do you agree with Konvitz’s assessment of why cities are in crisis? Where can we go to explore these issues in more depth? What does all this have to do with health, and public health practice? We at the Healthier Cities and Communities Hub invite discussion on these points, and our blog format provides a good forum for it to take place. So please, share your knowledge!



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