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Jim O’Neill named Commercial Secretary to the Treasury to oversee city devolution plan for England

Jim O’Neill, the former Goldman Sachs chief economist who coined the term “Brics” to describe leading emerging markets, has been appointed Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, with special responsibility for city devolution and delivery of public sector infrastructure projects.

Jim, who will be made a peer, chaired the Cities Growth Commission until October 2014. Many of the commission’s ideas underpinned George Osborne’s northern powerhouse strategy to boost economic development in the north of England. Jim argued that devolving power to Britain’s 15 biggest urban areas was also vital to curbing the budget deficit and national debt. It could boost the national economy by £79bn a year by 2030, adding 5 per cent to its size, the report said.

Click here to read the full story.

For more information, or to book Jim O’Neill as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Alex Hickman at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8004.

“Unleashing Metro Growth”: Jim O’Neill delivers the final report of the City Growth Commission

Jim O’Neill speakerIn October the UK’s City Growth Commission, chaired by the economist and creator of the BRICs acronym Jim O’Neill, released “Unleashing Metro Growth”, an influential report explaining how the UK can boost its economy by facilitating the growth of London and its other great cities.

Jim believes that cites are “the most powerful engines of growth almost everywhere.” Writing in the report, he argues that “ambitious metro areas should be bold and demand enough decision-making power to put their best ideas into effect.”

The Commission, which was run by the RSA think tank in London, argues that more powers should be devolved away from central government to metropolitan areas, and identifies London’s Oyster smart card, enabling seamless travel, as a model for other cities to copy. Creating world class digital infrastructure is another key factor in driving city growth.

“Absolutely first class…there is real opportunity here”
British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes
the Cities Growth Commission Report

Bruce Katz, Vice President of the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, served on the Commission. Here he cites a number of lessons the US can learn from the experience of the UK.

Click here to read the report in full.

For more information, or to book Jim O’Neill as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Alex Hickman at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8004.

Listen to economist Jim O’Neill on devolution and the future of England’s cities

Listen to economist Jim O’Neill on devolution and the future of England’s cities

Jim O'NeillIn a new programme for BBC Radio 4, “The Devolutionaries: Powering Up England’s Cities”, BBC Breakfast business presenter Steph McGovern explores proposals to devolve more powers to England’s cities.

There are growing calls for devolving more powers to England’s cities in the wake of the Scottish referendum. Proponents argue that devolving more power to cities, enabling them to take decisions about taxes and spending, could be the key to making them grow. Compared with other countries, the UK is highly centralised and the devolutionaries believe it is holding back cities outside London from growing.

Steph looks at these arguments, hearing from economist Jim O’Neill, who has chaired a year-long investigation into the subject, the City Growth Commission, which publishes its final report later this month. She finds out why Jim believes it is important for cities outside London to be able to grow into metro regions, in the way that American cities like Boston have been able to recover from deindustrialisation. Steph also meets civic leaders in Manchester and hears about their innovative “earnback” scheme for investing in new infrastructure, finds out how proposals for fiscal devolution might work and how such plans will require new forms of accountability, such as proposals for city mayors.

The show kicks off tonight (Monday 13 October) from 20.00-20.30. Click here for more information.

For more information on how to book Jim O’Neill as a speaker for your conference or client event, please contact Alex Hickman at or call +44 (0) 20 7792 8004.

Keynote by Parag Khanna: “Future Trends in the Century of Cities”

Dr. Parag Khanna, a leading next-generation voice on the nexus between international affairs, economics and technology, gave an insightful opening keynote on “Future Trends in the Century of Cities” and moderated a discussion, titled “Reimagining Cities: Transforming the 21st Century Metropolis”, at the 2014 New Cities Summit in Dallas.

In this talk, Dr Khanna lays out some of the context and challenges that cities around the world are facing today, and argues that the city has to reinvent itself. He begins by looking at Big Data – currently 50% of people live in urban environments, and that number is increasing by 10% per year. By 2025, 100 of the 600 richest cities will be based in China, representing the majority of the world’s GDP. When combining these figures with India, the pace of urbanisation becomes staggering – the two largest countries demographically will become collections of cities.

Future Trend in the Century of Cities

Reimagining Cities: Transforming the 21st Century Metropolis

But how will cities reinvent, adapt and transform themselves to fit the capacity of these growing populations, integrate new technologies, and become more dynamic both economically and culturally? Watch discussions from the summit below for more insight!

Hiroo Ichikiwa, Executive Director, the Mori Memorial Foundation
Jaime Lerner, Celebrated Urbanist, Former Mayor, Curitiba, Brazil
Arturo Sarukhan, Former Ambassador to the US, Mexico
Richard Sennett, Centenial Professor, London School of Economics
Mpho Franklyn Parks Tau, Executive Mayor, Johannesburg

Dr. Parag Khanna, Managing Partner, Hybrid Reality

For more information on how to book Parag Khanna as a speaker, please contact Alex Hickman at or call +44 (0) 20 7792 8004.

Razeen Sally, an expert speaker on the rise of Asia, explains how cities can benefit from urbanisation

Countries around the world need to devolve power to cities and be more open to foreigners if they are to benefit from new patterns of urbanisation, says Razeen Sally, Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore in this World Economic Forum (WEF) video.

Citing the recent WEF report on “The Competitiveness of Cities”, of which Razeen was the lead author, he explains that the coming decades will see the next wave of mass migration to cities, especially in Asia and Africa. Megacities are sprouting while entirely new cities are being created. Cities, with their economies of scale, scope and connectedness, bring people and markets together in a single, dense space. They will be one of the driving engines of growth, poverty reduction and prosperity over the course of this century.

Razeen goes on to argue that whilst cities can benefit from urbanisation, some are struggling to cope with challenges such as large-scale influx of people, or the inability to provide basic services, houses or jobs.

Click here to read the full report, which also identifies six global “megatrends” especially relevant to cities (1) urbanisation, demographics and the emerging middle class; (2) rising inequality; (3) sustainability; (4) technological change; (5) industrial clusters and global value chains; and (6) governance.

For more information on how to book Razeen Sally for an event, please call Alex Hickman on +44 (0) 20 7792 8004.

“More power should be given to cities” argues Danny Finkelstein

Daniel Finkelstein, political speaker and Executive Editor of the Times, recently argued in an opinion piece for the Times that more power should be given to cities because people are happier living in them. Working with Edward Glaeser, author of “Triumph of the City”, his colleagues from the Manhattan Institute, and the British think-tank Policy Exchange, of which Daniel is chairman of, he notes that:

  1. Over half the world’s population is urban and this proportion is growing every month.
  2. For those who live in the United States, living in metropolitan areas are vastly more productive.
  3. Income per head in countries where most people live in cities is almost four times higher than in those where most people live in rural areas.
  4. Reported life satisfaction rises with the share of the population that lives in cities.
  5. City living is better for the environment.

Daniel raises the important fact that “this does not, of course, mean that everyone wants to live in a city. And certainly not that they should be compelled to. It does, however, mean that we should stop doing things that put people off living in them.” He goes on to say that “the most important message is that cities have to be given the ability to make a success of themselves”, and that if “we want places such as Manchester and Cambridge to thrive, they need more control over their own destiny.”

Click here to read the full article.

For more information, or to book Daniel Finkelstein as a speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

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