What do you and the White House Office of Urban Affairs hope to contribute to this event?
This forum gives us the opportunity to share the American urban experience, from its rapid 20th century decentralization to its 21st century reconstitution as vibrant metropolitan regions. The White House Office of Urban Affairs is advancing President Obama’s vision of making metropolitan regions more competitive, equitable, livable and sustainable. I will share our experience in coordinating a federal urban strategy and the successes and challenges we have encountered.
Why is it important to the U.S. to participate in this forum?
Just as the rest of the world, we are increasingly concentrated in cities and metropolitan areas. Today, 83% of our population and 90% of our economic output is in rapidly growing metro areas. This trend is only expected to increase. By 2050, the United States will need to build 200 billion square feet of space to accommodate 120 million more people in homes, schools and places of business. We all have a responsibility to come together to face these challenges and build sustainable infrastructure platforms that will support quality living in an increasingly interconnected world.
How is the U.S. working to “Bridge the Urban Divide”?
American cities have been engines of innovation and economic opportunity, but they’re also places where pockets of poverty and inequality have persisted. President Obama understands we must invest in smarter ways to build strong metropolitan economies, supported by sustainable transportation and land use, and neighborhoods that prepare every child to be a productive citizen. This requires a new approach that brings everyone to the table, not just those with the resources to control the agenda. To bridge the urban divide we are investing in education, quality affordable housing, ensuring access to health care, building a smarter and cleaner energy grid, and reforming the financial system.
Juan Cuba is an Assistant in the White House Office of Urban Affairs