Geography is (no longer) destiny

Parag Khanna’s Ted Talk was making its way around the team last week and we think it’s a great summary of what we’re trying to say – that now, and in the future, national borders are disappearing. It seems to matter less what the UK does as an economy, or France. It’s about what London does, and Paris. 

These cities are forging ahead to become dominant economic forces, sometimes irrespective of how their national economy is performing.

Where a city’s success has traditionally been determined by its geography, it is connectivity that is now helping to identify the winners of the future. As Khanna puts it:

‘The global connectivity revolution in all of its forms – transportation, energy and communication – has enabled such a quantum leap in the mobility – of people, of goods, of resources, of knowledge – such that we cannot even think of geography as distinct from it’

Think about what the world map would look like if it was redrawn by ‘functional geography’ or how we use the world, rather than political geography. Think about what the G20 would look like if its members were based on economic size, rather than national representation. Argentina and Indonesia would be out in favour of emerging megacity clusters like the Yangtze River Delta in China. The region boasts a population of around 100m people and a GDP of around £2 trillion, easily earning a place at the table.

While a high, and growing, GDP and population makes a good starting point when it comes to building the Global Cities index, we believe it is just that, a starting point.

To gain a place in the index, we look to how populations and resources are connected, inelasticity of supply and the transport networks. And that’s before even considering more traditional metrics, such as a real estate company’s valuation and balance sheet…

Take a look at the full video.



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