SFCED | San Francisco Center for Economic Development


Global Development’s Brave New World

The global development community must realize that “much of what we think about how the world works is increasingly wrong,” according to James Manyika, director of the McKinsey Global Institute and vice chair of the President’s Global Development Council.

Manyika is the author of a new book, “No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends.” On Wednesday he joined New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman in San Francisco to discuss those trends in a conversation hosted by the World Affairs Council.

Devex caught up with Manyika by email prior to the event, to dig deeper into what development professionals and organizations can do to harness trends, instead of combatting them.

Here is an excerpt from our exchange:

How is the West Coast more broadly, or the Bay Area in particular, uniquely positioned to thrive in the face of these forces?

Cities will be at the center of growth and innovation around the world. Compared with their rural counterparts, city leaders often have greater license to experiment with solutions to societal challenges, from school reform to the implementation of green tech. As a major urban hub, San Francisco has the added benefit of being in close proximity to one of the world’s most powerful tech hubs.  This makes San Francisco a crucial microcosm for both private- and public-sector experimentation.

One such example is how the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency partnered with tech companies and parking meter providers to develop SFPark, a parking solution that combines new meters with sensors, mobile apps, and dynamic pricing to reduce congestion and parking delays.  This is just one example of the potential that a city like San Francisco holds. As the tech world continues to push toward solutions for the urban dilemmas of a new era, San Francisco and cities across the west coast will be crucial testing grounds for innovations that could soon improve the lives of urban residents throughout the developing world.

Read more: Devex Global development’s brave new world