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A New Policy Agenda for Secondary Cities – Brian Roberts, Urban Frontiers

By on October 11, 2016
Lecturer - profile

Brian Roberts

Emeritus Professor

Main affiliation
Urban Frontiers






Emeritus Professor Brian Roberts was a professor of urban management at the University or Canberra and now the Director of a small company Urban Frontiers. He has more than 40 years’ experience as a professional planner, project manager, academic, and adviser on a broad range of urban planning, management, and economic development projects working in more than 30 countries. He has held senior positions with the United Nations, Local Government, consulting and universities. He has authored or co-authored over 120 publications and 12 books including the books Urbanization and Sustainability in Asia: Good Practice Approaches to Urban Region Development; the Competitiveness of Cities in the 21st Century, and Managing Systems of Secondary Cities: Policy Responses in International Development. He was the lead co-authored Chapter 8 – The Changing Dynamics of Urban Economies of the 2016 UN World Cities Report and has recently completed the co-editing of a book on Partnerships for the Sustainable development of Cities in the Asia Pacific Region for APEC, and the Chapter in the UCLG Gold IV report on Intermediary Cities the Vital Nexus the Local an the Global.

English Proficiency
Mother tongue

Previous experience of recording video lectures

Experience of lecturing to large audiences

Experience of lecturing to large audiences

Frequency of lectures
Very often

Recording opportunities
Habitat III attendance and availability


Main themes
Urban Management
Urban Infrastructure
Sustainable Cities

A New Policy Agenda for Secondary Cities

The focus of the lecture will be to bring attention to the importance, roles and functions of Secondary in supporting viable national systems of cities.

Issues which the lecture addresses
Secondary cities provide the vital nexus in the supply chains supporting the development of metropolitan regions and smaller cities and rural areas. Secondary cities do not achieve and equitable share of national resources, often have significantly less GDP/capita levels than Metropolitan regions and national levels, are losing skills and capital, have poor logistics infrastructure and services which add to supply chain transaction costs and limited opportunities to diversify and value add to their economies. There is a need for governments to understand the plight of secondary cities and develop policies to support their development

Short analysis of the above issues
Nation urban and regional economic policies are leading to an imbalance in the development of secondary and smaller cities. Secondary cities often have weaker governments, less endowed capital to work with to develop their economies, and higher costs of services because they can not achieve economies of scale. .

Propositions for addressing the issue
Some of these factors can be overcome by changes in national development policy, but also by giving secondary cities greater economic and fiscal autonomy to engage in partnerships for development linking industry clusters and supply chains. This is being done successfully in New Zealand, where secondary cities are collaborating to reduce industry transaction costs and foster collaboration between regional clusters of industries to enable networks of cities to operate at scale and enter markets for new products and service. There is also a focus on the development of exogenous industry development as a means of creating local value adding and import substitution jobs. The lecture will also look at the opportunities that the third industrial revolution can have in supporting the development fo secondary cities

Additional Reading Materials
B.H.Ropberts (2014) Managing System of Secondary Cities: Policy Responses in International Development, Cities Alliance ( English and Spanish) https://www.citiesalliance.org/…/citiesalliance…/1d%20(i)%20-%20Managing%20Syst…
Lecture Woodrow Wilson Centre

Draft presentation