Could Towns and Neighbourhood Districts Provide the Answer to a More Sustainable Form of Economic Growth and Equality?

The opportunities, contradictions and inequalities of urban growth and the transition to a globalised economy are evident wherever you look. Our society encourages political and economic power to cluster together. The direct result is that London and the South East of England, and Edinburgh in Scotland, have both become congested, with infrastructure stretched and their respective housing markets overheated. The same happens state-side and in major European agglomerations. The periphery suffers and the promise of networked transformation stalls.

But with the advent of new technologies and the need for improved productivity and equity, surely the obvious solution would be to distribute wealth and opportunity across regions and states more evenly. With the associated housebuilding, infrastructure improvements, digital investments and supply chain networks that would follow, all of this could create a sustainable revival which would enable our towns to create a decent lifestyle with a job and home to go with it. Not state handouts or art centres in ghost towns, but real jobs and a fair share.

This call to action is now vital and with the right leadership, investment, coordination and vision, our towns and neighbourhoods can once more become a key element of global urban infrastructure. The issues are complex… so in partnership with the International Downtown Association, BIDS and ATCM, Scotland is hosting the first ever World Towns Leadership Summit. On June 15th and 16th in Our Dynamic Earth, over 150 international leaders, thinkers, economists, architects and planners will come here to discuss new ideas and to explore new approaches, all with the goal of making our towns better places. Click here to read the full article.

Key Features: What You Can't Miss at the World Towns Leadership Summit

With the World Towns Leadership Summit 2016 coming to Scotland, for the first time, we can make the world a smaller place for 2 days in June. Here are eight things you don't want to miss at the WTLS 15-16 June, Edinburgh: 

  • A world-class and unique line-up of civic leaders, economists, planners, architects, transport professionals, cultural experts, and urban development stakeholders from the public, private, and social sectors. See programme. 
  • Agenda-setting addresses including by Michael Smith, Chair, International Downtown Association; Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson; Michael H Shuman, globally recognised community economist; Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, CEO of the Cape Town Partnership and Tina Saaby, City Architect, Copenhagen. Open discussion sessions will also promote mutual learning and exchange.
  • Case study and panel sessions around diverse topics, with leading speakers from Abellio, BT, Downtown Yonge Toronto; Downtown Santa Monica, Oracle, Heart of London Business Alliance, Intu Business Properties, Social Enterprise World Forum and Times Square Alliance, New York.  
  • Fringe Events on Sustainable and Low Carbon Economies; Healthy Places; Next Generation Leaders; Creativity, Culture and Heritage; Social Integration and Migration; and Tourism. 
  • The chance to shape the local and global towns agenda, with the creation and signing of the World Towns Agreement: A Public-Private-Social Vision for Urban Centres – co-produced with the United Nations, the World Economic Forum and the Academy of Urbanism. More below.
  • The WTLS Marketplace, which will be open for delegates to network, visit exhibition stands, and arrange one2one meetings.
  • Towns Showcase and Meeting Hub, sharing the very best of towns with national and international guests; and offering a meeting place for sharing knowledge and expertise with your global peers.
  • Special study tours to transformative work underway in Scotland’s towns and urban areas, with a choice of visiting Edinburgh Grassmarket, Falkirk, Glasgow, Haddington, or Kirkcaldy on the second day of the Summit. Read more.

World Towns Agreement: A Public-Private-Social Vision for Urban Centres 

A key result of the Summit will be the creation and signing of the World Towns Agreement: A Public-Private-Social Vision for Urban Centres – co-produced with the United Nations, Academy of Urbanism and the World Economic Forum. A milestone in urban development for the 21st century, the Agreement is being shared worldwide to help influence international authorities and governments, and to drive forward a new vision of civic governance.

This is your chance to comment, feedback and add your own thoughts to this developmental stage of the World Towns Agreement. This document pulls together all the early thinking and creates a platform for debate around the four pillars of Economy, Identity, Environment and Leadership. We want to hear from you! Do you think that this approach will work? How can it be improved?

Have your say here!

 David Downey “The International Downtown Association and top business district CEOs from across the United States and Canada join delegates at the  2016  leadership summit to share 30+ years of experience in shaping successful and dynamics city centers and urban neighborhoods. Civic    governance is quickly evolving in all countries worldwide. The leadership summit will establish an urban regeneration declaration inclusive of a  clear role for public-private district management organizations as power brokers for addressing cities toughest challenges in the future.”


 David Downey, President & CEO, International Downtown Association

Join the Global Conversation Now!

Taking part in the Summit? Share a 60 sec film clip with the world! Join in the #WTLS #RoadtoEdinburgh campaign @WTLS_16 or send the link to the WTLS Team  Share why you are taking part and what you hope it will achieve for the world’s towns and neighbourhoods.  

WTLS speaker, Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, CEO of The Cape Town Partnership kickstarts our campaign:


Unlocking Opportunities with WTLS Sponsor Blachere Illumination

Blachere As we gather to discuss the challenges facing world towns and neighbourhoods, Blachere Illumination believe that modern approaches to lighting could play a key role in unlocking potential opportunities.

As the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of festive lighting, Blachere has established a global reputation for delivering innovative lighting schemes, not only for the traditional festive period but a growing all year round approach.

Their total approach to lighting, from design through to installation and dismantling, includes total control over quality and lead times and provides a unique offering in the market. And with over 40 years in the business, they have built a wealth of knowledge which continues to deliver results. Read More.

WTLS Programme:

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Book here:
Full WTLS16 tickets can be purchased for £295+VAT | One Day tickets can be purchased for £160+VAT | Add a Study Tour for £95+VAT

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Sponsored By Supporting Scotland's Towns