History and Overview

The 21st century has arrived and with it came continuing urban challenges facing cities around the world. These cities are facing exponential growth not just in population, but in the intensity of complex urban issues threatening the existence of safe, affordable, and supportive neighborhoods. The 21st century has also brought exponential advancements in technology that effectively eliminate the challenges that physical distance once posed and replaces them with opportunities for connectivity and sharing in the digital age. With this burgeoning confluence of technology and commitment to addressing urban issues, Leading Cities seeks to unite university faculty and students, policy innovators, city officials and business leaders in the common cause of solving urban challenges. This is achieved through sharing, improving and adapting best practices as well as facilitating economic and business development opportunities. The virtual world has dismantled borders and has made possible this unification and development of partnerships and policy innovations, thus realizing our mantra to create “global impact on the local level.”

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Portuguese Ambassador Nuno Britto

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Portuguese Ambassador Nuno Britto

According to the Global Leaders Survey, 96% of leaders around the world have agreed that urban challenges are common between cities, irrespective of geography, and they acknowledged that their cities would directly benefit from the sharing of information among cities. Unfortunately, this same group of global leaders recognized that nine out of ten of them did not feel knowledgeable about what other cities were doing to solve these challenges. This recognition of lost opportunity and duplication of efforts and mistakes as well as delays in improving the quality of life for citizens is precisely what Leading Cities will address in its collaborative model of economic and social change. Strong economies support strong communities – the “Q-Helix” (Quintuple helix) of private, public, non-profit, academic and citizen leaders all have a stake in the effective progress of their community

The development of Leading Cities was inspired by the work originally launched as World Class Cities Partnership in 2011 as a network of municipal governments and universities dedicated to researching and implementing identified best practices in urban policy. Leading Cities has grown beyond just applied research, it is a dynamic results-oriented organization with three distinct dimensions: a collaborative global research and knowledge exchange platform, a facilitator of business and economic development opportunities and a builder of bridges linking governments for cooperative partnerships.

Leading Cities is designed to harness the power of a network of leaders around the world, united by common environments and challenges despite their vast differences in location, language, culture and tradition. Since our launch, we have achieved several remarkable outcomes, from brokering international trade agreements and strengthening entrepreneurship ecosystems to publishing high impact research reports, such as Talent Magnets, which examined talent attraction and retention strategies for cities.

Dublin Summit

Leading Cities held our annual conference of partners in Dublin, 2013