Humanity on the move: Unlocking the transformative power of cities

Flagship Report 2016

German Advisory Council on Global Change

Full text, 544 pages


Summary, 41 pages

The momentum of urbanization and its impacts are so massive that we must face up to this trend. In view of the existing cognitive, technical, economic and institutional path dependencies, a policy of business as usual – i.e. an unstructured, quasi-automatic urbanization – would lead to a non-sustainable ‘world cities society’. Only if cities and urban societies are sufficiently empowered can they make use of the opportunities for sustainability and successfully follow the urban transformation pathways. The success or failure of the Great Transformation will be decided in the cities. The WBGU discusses the relevant conditions for the success of this transformation in this report.

Humanity on the move: Unlocking the transformative power of cities, is a notable breath of fresh air at a time when shallow platitudes seem the order of the day. It is bold, meticulously crafted through argument (as opposed to assertion) and evidence, and rooted in a highly original conceptual framework that is both global in scope and differentiated. The report asserts the centrality of cultural and institutional change and does not shy away from being specific and programmatic at a moment when it seems that political discourses are increasingly disconnected from our highly fractious, unsustainable, violent and intolerant times. I recommend it as compulsory reading in the strongest possible terms.

Professor Edgar Pieterse, Director – African Centre for Cities (University of Cape Town) & Chairperson of the Cities Alliance Think Tank.


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