This event was one of the series of five public Global Debates celebrating ten years of the Urban Age programme. The debates discussed five core themes that have been the focus of research and debate at the Urban Age since 2005. The event series was organised by LSE Cities and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society, in association with Guardian Cities.
The OECD estimates that around US$ 53 trillion is required for investment in transport, energy efficiency, telecommunications, and water and waste infrastructure over the next 15 years. Yet, as the world rapidly urbanises, investment in urban infrastructure is lagging behind. Lack of vision, loss of nerve, absence of public funds and low levels of interest from investors all exacerbate this. Nonetheless some cities across the globe are demonstrating resilience and capacity for innovation. While there is a consensus that investment in physical and social infrastructure can increase productivity, facilitate connection and promote social good, there are severe challenges and barriers to investment. Architect Norman Foster, who has been at the forefront of urban change in cities across the world, focused on the role that design can play in tackling social, economic and environmental futures, providing the context for the examination of the broader challenges of using infrastructure to help improve quality of life and the environment in cities in the UK and abroad.