Urban Transformation

These are the most powerful cities in the world

A worker looks at their phone as they walk past The Gherkin, Lloyds, and other office buildings in the City of London, Britain November 13, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville - RC1A2B2C9040

London comes top - again - in this annual list of the world's most powerful cities. Image: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Sean Fleming
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When it comes to possessing charisma and a special kind of magnetic charm, London still leads the world. That’s the conclusion of a study that puts London at the top of the Global Power City Index (GPCI) for the seventh year running.

Every year since 2008, the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies has analyzed the relative strengths and weaknesses of 44 of the world’s best-known and best-loved cities. The foundation’s researchers look at their ability to attract capital, businesses and people – what it refers to as the cities’ magnetism.

The six factors scrutinized are: economy, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment, and accessibility. These six are, in turn, broken down into 70 different indicators which are all given a score. The cumulative score gives the institute its final rankings. The maximum possible score is 2,600 points.

Increased globalization has seen greater movement of people and capital around the world. According to the GPCI’s authors, this creates a virtuous circle in some cities – opportunities created by an influx of people and wealth attract yet more people and wealth. “Therefore, cities that strive to provide an attractive and welcoming urban environment for their people will be best poised to succeed as global power cities,” the report says.

The 2018 top five remains unchanged from last year – London, New York, Tokyo, Paris and Singapore.

Image: Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies

Winners and losers

One of the biggest changes recorded in the GPCI has been the rise of North American cities and the decline in some big names from Asia. Since last year, Beijing has fallen from 13th to 23rd in the rankings due to weaker performance in the accessibility measure, which looks at a city’s connectedness and transport networks. Meanwhile, Shanghai fell from 15th to 26th. This was due to a reduced score for its economy.

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Improving economic indicators were responsible for all American cities achieving higher overall GPCI scores. Strong representation in the economy and environment categories led to San Francisco rising from 17th to 13th. Across the border in Canada, Toronto (14th) and Vancouver (21st) scored highly for economy, livability and environment. Toronto had the largest overall increase of any of the GPCI cities.

Cities that only had strengths in one or two areas were most likely to fall, the report found, while those with more balanced performances were more likely to rise.

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Related topics:
Urban TransformationEconomic Growth
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