The future is one of cities. Today more than half the world’s population lives in cities and 85 percent of the global GDP is generated in cities, with the biggest 250 cities accounting for 57 percent of global GDP. By 2030, 67 percent of the world will live in cities.

A further 1.5 million people a week are joining cities across the world through a combination of migration and childbirth, with over 90 percent of future growth in urbanisation in African and Asian countries.

Whilst urbanisation creates huge opportunities for smart, eco-cities, there are also significant challenges that come with different types of urbanisation: tremendous demands on infrastructure and the environment, provision of services and job creation. Cities consume three quarters of the world’s natural resources. New York, Beijing, Shanghai and London will need $8 trillion in infrastructure investments alone over the next decade. By 2030, solid waste management will dominate municipal annual budgets in low and middle income countries with shares of 30 to 50 percent.

Patterns of urban life and economic activity are also being impacted by demographic change. Over 100 of the top cities are expected to shrink over the next 10 years, in part due to aging populations in countries like Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea and China.

New centres of growth are emerging in India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda and Indonesia, and this trend remains steady since we have last examined it in 2017.

So how do we plan, build and lead better cities?

We need to understand the profound changes that are underway and how they influence the future of individuals, business and society. We also need to lead and make better choices about the future of business and dare to imagine better ones.