More than half the world lives in cities, and that figure is likely to increase to 60 percent by 2030, adding 1.4 billion more people than today. The rush to urban centers, particularly in emerging economies, is driven by a desire for a better life with more opportunities—as economies start to centralize in cities, so do people. The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has estimated that between now and 2025, the world’s urban population will grow by 65 million people a year, or almost 179,000 every day. Meeting the needs of this changing demographic will be challenging. What has to happen to make a good city? Or a great one?
Those are urgent questions. Because cities are where the future is, urban environments need to evolve to match human aspirations. To consider how to do this, MGI interviewed a wide range of urban leaders and experts and researched in depth dozens of cities in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. Some of the cities we looked at are certainly considered great; others have achieved notable results on specific topics.