At the beginning of this new century, we are experiencing some of the most profound and accelerated transformations in the history of humanity that have great effect on the economy, politics, society, and the human habitat. Technological innovation and the development of telecommunications are facilitating the emergence of a new global economic order. This is reinforced with the progressive reduction of trade barriers, the creation of large economic blocks, and the expansion of global markets.

The habitats of globalization are the cities and the city systems. Today, more than 50% of the world population lives in cities - in 20 years, that figure will be 75%. Over that period of time, almost 2000 million people will be born in, or will move to live in cities, especially the larger cities in the developing world. There will be more than 500 cities with more than one million inhabitants.

Giving a coherent response to this unprecedented challenge and opportunity has become the central issue, not only for urbanism, but for the economy, society and culture as a whole.