Global economic integration, technological change, and rapid development in the emerging world economies are reshaping the world’s urban landscapes. Rapid urbanisation is underway in many parts of the world, with new types of metropolitan areas emerging there; at the same time, existing major metropolitan areas are expanding their borders, changing their internal organisation, and being more deeply integrated into wider metropolitan regions. These processes are bringing prosperity to many urban regions, but such prosperity is selective, with other areas finding it difficult to find new roles in the contemporary economy and hence suffering from outmigration and lower incomes. The global urban world has thus opened up new forms of polarization and divergence in growth and incomes. Added to these diverse processes are pressures from such forces as climate change and citizen demands for participation and equity. In this light, city-regions around the world are in need of innovations in infrastructure, urban governance, economic development strategies, and finance. At the same time, the obstacles to such innovations, from existing political arrangements, entrenched interests, segregation, and poorly adapted theories and models, are also very powerful.
The Regional Studies Association International Conference 2013 on Global Urbanisation: Challenges and Prospects presents a timely opportunity to discuss these important issues, to establish the need and nature of future research imperatives, and to address the concerns and challenges confronting policymakers and practitioners.