The Wealth of Cities: Towards an Assets-based Development of Newly Urbanizing Regions


  • John Friedmann

    1. Professor Emeritus in the School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles, and Honorary Professor in the School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
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  • An earlier version of this paper was given in 2006 as the First UN-HABITAT Award lecture at the Third World Urban Forum in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada). I would like to thank the following for their critical comments on earlier drafts: Leonie Sandercock, Michael Leaf, Haripriya Rangan, Vinay D. Lall, Matti Siemiatycki and Linda Herrera. The usual caveats apply.


In this essay, the author develops an argument for an endogenous development of city-regions throughout the world. He emphasizes seven clusters of tangible regional assets in which investments should preferentially be made: basic human needs; organized civil society; the heritage of the built environment and popular culture; intellectual and creative assets; the region's resource endowment; the quality of its environment; and urban infrastructure. The author concludes by making a plea for a ‘whole of government’ collaborative approach to planning for an endogenous development.