Business and Industries Roundtable

Hall 4, Room B

It is well recognised that the annual cost of achieving urban sustainable development goals by 2030 is in its trillions of dollars.  This enormous investment requires us to re-think how the development of cities is financed and highlights the importance of co-creating urban development sustainably through collective action. UN-Habitat’s City Investment Forums have highlighted the mutual interest of cities to become better clients of businesses and businesses to become long-term partners and investors in cities. This requires a paradigm shift in the relationship between cities and businesses, that establishes trust between urban communities, city leaders, impact investors and creative industries, grounded in a unified vision, with clear, interlinked roles and responsibilities, and legal safeguards.

Many cities that have successfully achieved this ecosystem have found that elements of culture – a common culture of work, the protection of cultural heritage and respecting the cultural diversity of inhabitants - have been a unifying force that drives urban transformation. To illustrate this, the roundtable will focus on the intervention of business and creative industries in cities suffering decades of neglect, impoverished or at-risk neighbourhoods,  and will ask the difficult question of how the transformation of such areas can be undertaken in a way that prevents gentrification and improves wellbeing for all.  The event will highlight how investments of major family of businesses over 3 decades has transformed the once-blighted Detroit downtown, through a values-driven approach; how the city of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, famous for being the home of kings, has made art an industry that has amplified its legacy as a City of Culture and generated local economies; how artists in Favara, Sicily, utilized derelict buildings and spaces to transform this once neglected city and impacted economic growth and crime reduction.

The session will further explore how the partnership of cities, businesses, creative industries and civil society in revitalizing urban cultural heritage in Bahrain and Malaysia has strengthened the local economy and wellbeing of residents. Panelists will reflect on enabling environments through which the ecosystem of such actors can work together to make cities vibrant, inclusive and prosperous.

  • The session aims to develop a deeper understanding of the role of business and industry in transforming cities for the benefit of all. Through the interventions of exceptional city leaders, intermediaries, businesses, creative industries, and civil society, the roundtable will explore how cities, impoverished urban neighbourhoods and urban areas at risk have been transformed through business intervention.
  • By exploring the respective roles of national government, city leadership, urban communities, business, and the creative industry and their interaction in urban revitalisation, and understanding key enablers of culture, community participation, inclusive planning, financing, and legislation, that work together to guide the revitalisation process, the session aims to equip city leaders and urban professionals with experiences that can guide their cities’ transformation.
Guiding Questions
  1. What was the situation of the city/neighborhood before the intervention; describe the intervention and its results.
  2. How did you ensure that the intervention was good for everyone – and that gentrification and was minimized?
  3. Describe the importance of culture in the intervention and its impact?
  4. Who were the key stakeholders and what were the most important factors that enabled success?

Session Speakers