The World Economic Forum today announced plans to establish a new global Centre for Urban Transformation headquartered in Detroit. The Centre seeks to increase public-private collaboration in cities and advance more inclusive and sustainable models for urban development.
“Around the globe, cities are facing unprecedented challenges from COVID-19 to climate change, exposing deep systemic inequities,” said Jeff Merritt, Head of Urban Transformation, World Economic Forum. “As we chart a course towards a more sustainable and equitable future, government cannot carry this burden alone; increased public-private cooperation is essential. Detroit is uniquely positioned to serve as the epicenter for this work – a hub for urban transformation and innovation that the world can look to for guidance and inspiration.”
The World Economic Forum will leverage its global network of leading companies, governments, civil society organizations and academic institutions to support cities as they seek to rebuild their economies and forge more resilient communities. This includes mobilizing the global business community to commit expertise and resources in support of local communities, advancing models for inclusive urban development, and exploring new approaches to expand urban services and economic opportunity in low-income and traditionally marginalized communities.
The Centre will launch in October with a series of events and announcements, showcasing innovative models of urban transformation from around the globe. Bedrock, Detroit’s largest real estate company, will host the Centre’s work in Detroit, providing a testbed to rethink and redefine the benefits and possibilities of urban living. Additional work will be led out of the World Economic Forum’s offices in Beijing, Geneva, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.
“Bedrock is excited to bring the World Economic Forum and its global platform to Detroit,” said Kofi Bonner, Chief Executive Officer, Bedrock. “This partnership provides an opportunity to showcase Detroit’s extraordinary growth and positions Michigan’s largest city and international border as a global hub for best-in-class thinking on developing a next-generation, inclusive urban economy.”
The Centre for Urban Transformation will base its activities in Bedrock’s downtown Detroit portfolio with future intentions to join the developer’s plans for the Gratiot Site, which will be at the heart of an Innovation District designed to drive economic transformation and create pathways for Detroiters into future high-growth industries.
“By 2030, six out of every ten people in the world are expected to reside in cities,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat. “We need an urgent change in mindsets, policies, and approaches towards urbanization to ensure nobody is left behind. We look forward to working with the World Economic Forum to advance the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goal 11 to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”
“Congratulations to the City of Detroit and thank you to all the people who championed this iconic American city as home of the World Economic Forum Global Centre for Urban Transformation,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Michigan has led the way in bringing together public and private sectors to creatively solve issues from transportation to small business relief for decades and Detroit is the perfect place to leverage that approach to improving urban living worldwide.”
“The World Economic Forum could have chosen any city in the world to locate its global Centre for Urban Transformation, and we are proud they chose Detroit,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “In Detroit, we have always solved major issues and expanded opportunity through innovation and partnership and that is exactly what the Centre for Urban Transformation seeks to do on a global scale. We are thrilled they will be doing it from right here in Detroit.”