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Bloomberg WB Urban Speech 21Feb2008

Bloomberg WB Urban Speech 21Feb2008

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Published by: UrbanKnowledge on Jul 28, 2011
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THE CITY OF NEW YORK
 O
FFICE OF THE
M
AYOR
 New York, NY 10007
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG ADDRESSES WORLD BANK EMPLOYEES ON “BUILDINGBETTER CITIES: NEW YORK’S EXPERIENCE IN URBAN TRANSFORMATION” AT WORLDBANK URBAN SECTOR DAY
 Remarks as Delivered 
Date: February 21, 2008Location: World Bank, Preston Auditorium, 1818 H Street, NW between 18
th
and 19
th
Streets,WASHINGTON, DC
 
Event: Addresses World Bank Staff At World Bank’s Urban Sector Day
Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Bob, thank you for those kind words from London. I hope the traffic there isn’t toobad. You were almost too late to introduce me. You should tell them they should put a congestion pricingcharge in. maybe that would help. And in terms of the World Bank having Bloomberg terminals, my daughterssay thank you.LAUGHTERNow my connections with the World Bank are not just through selling Bloomberg terminals. I actually knownot only Bob, but both his two of his two predecessors. You should know that the in the interest of fulldisclosure my girlfriend works for Jim Wolfensohn.LAUGHTERShe’ll be pleased. Jim and I were partners together at Salomon Brothers and were both pushed out at exactlythe same time. Our careers did okay afterwards, thank you, so there’s nothing wrong with that. PaulWolfensohn (sic) was a dean at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins, where I waschairman of the board. So you can say that he used to work for me and I’m guessing that a few of you
 
 
probably think that he should have stayed there. But- I thought that would have gotten a little bit better laughthan that actually.LAUGHTERAnd Bob was a partner in an investment banking firm that offered me my first job when I got out of businessschool and I turned them down, thank goodness. Anyway, it’s amazing after all of that that you still invited meto speak. Nevertheless, seriously I am deeply honored by this invitation to address the World Bank’s- Bank Group’s Urban Sector. The work you do in so many rapidly growing cities really does put you at the center of the stage of the world’s most important drama. And you should be proud really of the difference that you’remaking to so many in our society that need help.You truly are at the center of a changing world. This year, for the first time in human history, city dwellers willbegin to make up the majority of the Earth’s population. And this global urbanization represents a seismic shiftin world affairs and it’s happening really at a breathtaking pace. Fifty years ago, fewer than 100 of the world’scities had populations of one million or more; within ten years, nearly 500 will.For example, 50 years ago, China was still largely an agrarian society. But in the middle of our current century,it’s expected to- that much- as much as three-quarters of the entire population of China will live in cities. And Iwas there two months ago visiting Beijing and Shanghai and there are certainly two things that are true: one,they’ve made enormous progress. They’ve taken roughly 600 million people and given them the benefits of modern society. The other thing that’s true is that they have staggering problems ahead of them. They haveroughly 600 million people that live on a dollar a day or less. So China is a country that can help others, butalso a country that needs our help.And I think that can be said of every country, including America. America needs help from around the world.We need people coming here – I’ll talk about that. We need capital coming here – I’ll talk about that. We needideas and improvements to our culture from around the world. And we have a lot to be proud of and a lot toexport elsewhere.Now, such astonishing growth really has produced new responsibilities for the- put on the shoulders of all of uswho work in large cities and that’s what I want to talk about today. All of us, in every country, today face dailyand directly the economic, social, and environmental consequences of explosive urban growth. We now have todeal with the forces of globalization and climate change and simultaneously we must confront the challenges of providing all of our people with the health and social services they need to create better lives for their families.And as citizens of the world, our duties are great – but so are the opportunities, I think, for building a moresecure and prosperous world for everyone.A world where anything that can be imagined can be accomplished, where ending illiteracy or hunger orstopping AIDS or cleaning the air or deterring corruption are things that really are within our control. I think people are afraid to confront the important issues of our time. They are important- they’re afraid to confront thecomplicated issues of our time. If there isn’t a simple solution, they don’t want to get near it. But the truth of the matter is there are no simple solutions to complex problems.Nevertheless, we as individuals have a responsibility to do so and to do what I think is important. We want toshare the Great American Dream with the rest of the world. And I think it is a dream that embodies the
 
 
aspirations of people all around the globe. And you should know that I am very proud of everything thiscountry has done. I don’t always agree with everything that it does do today. But we have a responsibility andI think America you will find will stand up and do it’s part.Now some people doubt that the world’s great cities are up to the tasks before us, but I do not. Time after time,cities have shown an ability to overcome even the most daunting obstacles and to mobilize and maximize thetalents of our people. Today I would like to use the transformation of New York City as a small example of what I think can be done and God knows that you in this room and your colleagues around the world are trulytrying to face infinitely more serious problems with people who are just trying to stay alive. But nevertheless,what New York City has done perhaps can be used elsewhere and we would proud if anybody would take ourideas and plagiarize them and improve them and send them back to us even better. We have no “not inventedhere” problem. We are a city, a global city. And the great strength of New York is that we have taken ideasfrom every place.If you go back to 9/11, many people thought that New York’s days of greatness were numbered. There wereserious predictions that businesses and residents would flee the city wholesale, that our economy would neverrecover, that crime would once again take root in our city and that New York was headed for an irreversibledownward spiral of decline. I don’t know if that sounds familiar, but it should because I’d bet that all of youhave heard the naysayers and cynics say exactly the same thing and disparaged the work of the World Bank andsay that you won’t succeed, that you can’t succeed. We heard the exactly the same thing – doubt, defeatism,hopelessness, negativism, but I think we’ve shown, and you have shown, that that we can address theseproblems. And in New York in the last six years, New York City certainly has proved the naysayers wrong andI think you are doing the exactly the same thing.How did we do it? Well there’s no one answer, of course, no royal road to success. But I believe there are fourvalues which have helped transform New York City and which provide lessons for the rest of the world, lessonsthat are universal and transferable. And they are: harnessing the force of immigration and globalization;tapping the power of innovation; instituting rigorous and accountable governance; and having the independenceto take on entrenched interests when they stand in the way of progress. And let me expand on each of thesevalues, beginning with the long-term and continued embrace of immigration and globalization.If you want to know what I think is the single biggest difference between New York and other cities that havenever recovered from the job losses of the 1970s in America, I have one word for you: immigrants. Over thepast 30 years, our immigrant population in New York has more than doubled in size. Today, 37% of NewYorkers – more than three million people – are foreign-born and more than 70% of them have come to NewYork since 1980. Their ambition, hard work, and entrepreneurial drive continues to bring dynamic new life toour economy and a fresh new spirit to our city. New Yorkers understand that. Even after 9/11, when it wouldhave been understandable for us to become fearful about the rest of the world, we have continued to welcomeimmigrants in New York City at a historic-making pace and they have more than repaid us.Just as important as this global movement of people is the increasing crucial role that global capital plays inNew York’s economy. We finance development around the world and you see today other countries are doingthe same thing in New York – international and multi-directional. The power of globalization played a big partin reviving New York’s fortunes over the past 30 years and prev- and in preventing us from going into adownward spiral after 9/11 and our success story is far from being a “one-off” anomaly in this world.

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