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Citizen today, April 2011 - Leading cities - EY - Global

Citizen Today, April 2011

Leading cities

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"Our goal is to turn Copenhagen into the first carbon dioxide-neutral capital in the world." Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen

Summary: We asked civic leaders which cities they viewed as their role models. Barcelona, Copenhagen, Melbourne and Munich were among the most admired. Here's what their representatives have to say about their city’s success.


Barcelona emerged as the most admired city in our survey — by some distance.

Some of the reasons given reflect how the city used its Olympic legacy to accelerate city development. For example: "A similar scale used for Olympic Games to develop, drive entrepreneurship strongly, strong focus on job creation and urban renewal."

The city is also seen as "a step forward compared to the rest of all Latin cities" and "a great example of a global city at a regional level with a good talent attraction policy."

Jordi Hereu, Mayor of Barcelona:

"Barcelona has been very successful thanks to continued efforts to maintain its attractiveness, both in terms of its physical assets (international connections, public space, housing and innovative technological districts) and in terms of social issues (quality cultural offer, cohesive social values, shared values), the promotion of institutions that have a global interest, everything from FC Barcelona to the system of universities and business schools."


Copenhagen’s successful sustainability has many admirers. Specifically for the way it has successfully managed a structural change without losing its own special character.

It has adopted an interactive approach to engaging with its citizens, especially about development and the environment. Long-term goals have been formulated and communicated to support long-term decisions, such as the desire to be carbon-neutral by 2025.

Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen:

“It is important to bear in mind that Copenhagen has a long tradition of collective solutions. One example is district heating, where the public sector provides an infrastructure that is so financially attractive and so up-to-date in terms of climate standards that 98% of the Copenhagen population has chosen to join it. The district heating system is one of the main reasons why we have been able to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% over the past 10 years.”


Melbourne’s cultural strengths were frequently cited by city leaders. The city’s arts, culture and food, and the promotion of the city as a destination for events is seen as a principal driver for development. Its transport infrastructure is praised as one of the reasons that the city attracts big business stakeholders.

Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne:

“Style and substance define the Melbourne of 2011. While our economic and social offer is second to none, we are also enriched by artists, performers and writers of global renown. Certainly, ours is a city with a huge enthusiasm for sport; but in fact more people attend cultural and artistic events in our city.”


Munich stands out from several impressive German cities by virtue of its ability to think strategically, according to our survey. “Munich knows how to focus. Viewed as “a model of innovation policy,” the city’s knowledge economy has left it positioned “as a high-tech and creative city.”

Christian Ude, Mayor of Munich:

“We have set ourselves ambitious goals. For example, we want to enhance our childcare system, particularly day-care nursery places. This will help ease the competing demands of career and family. In addition, we want to develop a better early assistance for children from socially deprived areas — a move which will help tackle social cohesion by mitigating the effects of increasingly disparate incomes.”.

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