By 2050, more than two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities, and the future of 7 billion people will depend on urban governance and development. Most of our knowledge about how cities work comes from the world’s largest and most established cities. Yet, most people live in emerging cities.
Emerging cities are small urban centers, with less than one million people and are often located close to rural populations. The small urban centers are important to ensure balanced economic growth in a country, as they act as an important market for agricultural goods and facilitate the transition from agricultural to non-agricultural work. Their proximity to rural areas also facilitates the transition from a rural to a more urban existence. However, they are often overlooked by policymakers and researchers. Emerging cities can help bring development to the people, but only if scholars and policymakers understand how they work. Governments need to deconcentrate resources from capitals and megacities by investing in infrastructure and building state capacity elsewhere.
The “Political Change and Local Governance in Emerging Cities” project is conducted by the Governance and Local Development Institute (GLD), at the University of Gothenburg, and will develop theoretical insights into governance and development in areas of rapid urban growth. It will do so by implementing a GLD-based methodological tool called the Local Governance Process Indicators (LGPI), holding focus group interviews, and conducting experimental interventions. Finally, findings will be disseminated to scholars, policymakers, and practitioners. The research findings will serve as an incubator for urban policy reforms worldwide.