Increased connectivity between cities is seen as key to revolutionizing both urban living and diplomatic ties with other countries.
We’re now moving towards a new era where insular, political boundaries are no longer as relevant as they used to be. More and more people see themselves as “global citizens,” and that is due to the fact that we are all more connected than we’ve ever been before. As a result, a “systems change” is taking place in the world today in which cities – not nations – are the key global players, argues Parag Khanna in his new book, Connectography: Mapping the Future of the Global Civilization. The old saying “Geography is destiny” is being replaced with “Connectivity is destiny”, argues Khanna.
Cities are placed by Khanna in the center of this evolution because of a threefold reasoning: urbanization, economics, and connectivity. With their increasing population, concentration of economic power and ability to engage in city-to-city diplomacy, mega-cities are slowly making political geography obsolete. Cities look up to other cities – often, the rise of a regional superstar city will inspire others to pull themselves up, as Khanna argues is the case with Cairo or Beirut which look up to Dubai. Additionally, second-tier cities can benefit from increased connectivity with a regional mega-city that can boost up their economy.
Increased connectivity between cities has, of course, both advantages and drawbacks. Lacking a set of universally fixed solutions, the best approach is the exchange of good practices, seeing what works for each city regarding each issue. Khanna essentially runs through good and bad examples of this in his book. Two such pressing issues which cities must deal with are inequality and environmental sustainability.
As a passionate cartographer, Khanna also contributes with several revealing functional maps of the world which highlight the city-to-city connectivity, population density, and even potential new regions which can increase US competitiveness.