Following up on my recent posts about the possible role of big cities in tackling global problems (Global federalism, Sept 06; Given enough local minds, October 06; and also to a certain extent Big city, no billboards, Dec 19), I found these paragraphs in a text by Josep Roig, the Barcelona-based secretary of Metropolis, the world's association of large cities, published a couple of years ago as an annex to the strategic plan for the Barcelona metropolitan area:
Metropolises and metropolitan regions are the theatres where the tragicomedy of globalisation is played out. A renaissance of metropolises is happening. For some decades they've been the symbol of urban problems. Globalisation has translated into a new assertiveness of cities, into new political, economic and social protagonism - if they had ever lost it. (...) If a metropolitan hierarchy used to be consolidated according to population and size, now a connected network of metropolises has been drawn out with different levels of functions. The connections, networks, communications between and among these cities are now as important as the concentration of capital, work and culture.
Time will have to pass before the power of cities and global metropolitan regions is visibly consolidated on a world level among the rest of the protagonists. Perhaps some days we will see, next to the G8, the GC55 meeting (the 55 global cities) or the M400 (the 400 metropolises with over 6 million inhabitants). (...)
Globalisation has given arguments for a better coordination and simplification in the decision-making processes at metropolitan level - for a neo-metropolitanism. (...) The new city government model has to consider its relationship with the State, with the EU-type regional powers and with the global powers which are arising in this stage of globalisation. Simultaneously however, it also has to provide a response to the wish for decentralization, proximity and representation of the local levels. Which grants the question whether metropolitan areas are becoming an organized political power with the capacity to maneuvering alongside upper levels of government.