Take inspiration from Montreal: open a conversation about building a new investment platform for all Scotland's cities

I was at the afternoon workshop on investment - and came out really energised about the potential for some rapid innovation that could make a huge difference for many of the issues we'd been discussing in the sessions earlier in the day.

Gorka told us a story in that workshop about being at a dinner in Montreal earlier this year, hosted by a respected local banker. Around the table were other bankers, philanthropists, people from government and others including Gorka with his message of more sustainable, inclusive growth.

At one point in the evening, according to Gorka, the people around the table realised they had it in their power to create a new investment mechanism for the city. The host banker put $20 million on the table; the philanthropy organisations between them put up another $20 million; and govenment contributed $20 million too.

All agreed a basis for their investment was of a social, economic and environmental return over the long term. That experiment is just getting going - this year - and the folks from Montreal are coming to London in early 2016 to share the story.

I can't think of a better way of building on the positivity and momentum of the Cities Summit than to get our act together and rapidly see if Scotland's Smart Cities couldn't position ourselves alongside Montreal as a global pioneer in developing an holistic investment platform that could take long term decisions (housing, jobs, productivity, equity) and ideally be governed by clear criteria founded on principles of building city and regional resilience - such as Rockefeller are developing; and as also set out in a report this week by the Post Carbon Institute in California 'Six Foundations for Community Resilience' (which for my money might help prompt a new round of conversation about some of the proposals in the report circulated on Friday).

The start of this might just be as simple (?) as some smart hosting by our City Leaders and colleagues from private sector, government and social innovation partners - of a conversation amongst potential investors, who might share an ambition around how our cities might help Scotland leapfrog other places to become a fairer more productive and more sustainable nation...

Why the contribution is important

A major theme of our conversations on Friday was around unleashing the assets - human, political, cultural, social, financial etc. - of Scotland's cities through collabroative innovation.

Another theme was 'believing in ourselves' and being prepared to risk being bold.

With the right kind of investment platform - democratically stewardship and visionary in its decisions around building city/regional resilience - we would collectively have an immediate opprotunity to build on the momentum and energy of the event, and a wider public thirst for change and democratic renewal, fairer work and more.

And pro-actively taking steps to build an investment platform attracting private sector - as well as pension funds, social investment, diaspora investment .... - would add a new and interesting dimension to the call for cities to have more autonomy around budgets, income raising etc..?

by nickwilding on November 20, 2015 at 02:04PM

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