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Citi Perspectives for the Public Sector - Vol 2, 2013

Joining Forces to Fuel Urbanization

The growth of cities is a key mega-trend for the 21st Century. Yet if their advance as the world's dominant economic entities is not to cause more problems than it solves, a co-ordinated approach is required - especially with respect to finance.

by Filippo Sabatini
Global Head of Public Sector
Citi

World cities are growing at an unprecedented rate, as people and businesses continue to seek new opportunities. Given such growth, city leaders are keen to regenerate and develop their cities. The key to doing so successfully lies in collaboration. Cities are formed of many different parts - government, citizens and businesses that span multiple sectors - each performing a different function.

The best way to make the 'whole' work as efficiently as possible is to combine the strengths of each of the separate areas, and learn from how they have overcome their challenges. Given the interconnected nature of infrastructure projects, corporates that embrace this philosophy - through collaboration between the public and private sectors of multiple industries - could gain potential efficiencies that can have real impact on the bottom-line, as well as being part of innovative solutions that address the challenges caused by urbanization.

Efficiency imperative
Adopting a holistic approach to financing cities is important - especially when monitoring cash flows, for instance. Indeed, having visibility across multiple sectors enables city leaders to prevent the hoarding of cash in non-core areas, freeing it up to be pumped elsewhere or to reduce borrowing. While a holistic view of infrastructure projects is a good start, attention to detail is also imperative. This includes a focus on processes that are not obvious but remain essential to the project. Managing payrolls, for instance, is a key process that is often executed inefficiently, and can cause problems for the entire structure if neglected.

Cities are usually made up of one local authority striving to please millions of citizens, and multiple businesses that span across a wide range of sectors. Any initiative that aims to help world cities, must demonstrate breadth, flexibility, global reach and technical expertise. And, it must reflect the need for global collaboration and increased private-public partnerships across industries to develop innovative solutions.

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