Answer 7 of the dossier “40 KEY QUESTIONS TO UNDERSTAND THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD”, coordinated by Albert Bosch from a request of the communication group “GRUPO Z”, where an expert in each subject answers a question about the trend of a certain topic. In this specific case, this question is answered by BOYD COHEN:
Before answering, it is important to distinguish what kind of cities we are talking about. North American cities, which to date have bet a lot for the car and the suburbs. European cities, which have been oriented more towards densification and public transport. Or giant cities, and some new ones in Asia, which are sometimes built almost overnight, and contain more than 10 million inhabitants.
For the purpose of this response, I will focus on European cities. My vision for these cities within this century is that they will evolve in three basic axes of transformation: self-sufficiency in resources, transportation and collaboration.
They will be self-sufficient but interconnected cities. In the future, European cities will take the global leadership in becoming more self-sufficient in terms of water, renewable energy and urban food. However, they will share with other cities in the same country, region or the rest of the world all kinds of innovative trends that improve the efficiency of their management.
Regarding transport, I do not see European cities dominated by cars without drivers. These have shown throughout their history more commitment to public and community transport. I do not think that in the future they will predominantly have personal cars (with or without driver) in the center. We can already see the beginning of this process. For example, Oslo aims to eliminate private vehicles from its center by the year 2019. Madrid has similar projects for the year 2020; and Barcelona is developing superblocks.
Cities are going to be a center of spaces for co-creation and collaboration. I am convinced that cities will grow in their capacities to promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and co-creation among municipalities, citizens and SMEs. We are going to see an increase of micro producers, FabLabs (production laboratories on a personal or local scale) and other initiatives, which will allow citizens to produce and consume collaboratively. Citizens will use their intelligence to participate more actively in the improvement of their neighborhoods and the functioning of the city.
BOYD COHEN: Deputy Director of Research and Professor of Entrepreneurship and Sustainability at EADA Business School and the University of Vic. Author of “The Emergence of the Urban Entrepreneur”.