Thursday, 20 October 2011

Dual world of capital cities - results of Warsaw seminar

After more than half a year of virtual existence RSA Research Network ‘Impact of global economic crisis on capital cities’ has had its first seminar in Warsaw on 23rd September. The title of our first gathering was ‘Crisis and cities: a dual world of capital cities’ and its core value was that it brought together experts who are dealing with very diverse aspects of capital cities development – from land management and planning to financial sector industry, from retail to community integration. The geography of cases presented at the seminar was also quite impressive, spanning from Warsaw to Tel Aviv and from Vilnus to London. We are also very pleased that seminar attracted a considerable number of young researchers who were taking active part in the seminar both as speakers and discussants.

It is of cause a challenging time for all of us in Europe and worldwide, whether we live in capital cities or small towns. As Professor Gorzelak pointed out while opening the seminar, the global economic crisis is far from being over and most importantly we can’t predict what path it will take in the next couple of months. That is why the task of our research network – to collect the experiences and examples of impact of crisis on the economy, social sphere and communities of capital cities as well as to exchange knowledge about the government actions aimed at its mitigation – seems very ambitious. 

However this fluidity of situation and inability to predict what will happen in the next quarter or year should be considered not as a handicap but rather as an opportunity. It is clear from our research that different countries have experienced different degrees of crisis and some of them have arrived to lower point sooner than others. It also means that while some cities might be only starting to experience negative trends, others might be well through them and already have managed to design effective (or not so effective) responses. These responses are useful not only for their citizens and businesses, but also for experts and decision-makers from other cities who are keen to look at similar cases internationally and thus formulate better informed position as for their own rescue plans.

It would be fair to say that only few presenters concentrated on ‘dual world’ of capital cities – key topic of the seminar. It is indeed a challenge to disentangle ‘the capital’ function from the sophisticated and often global nature of capital city life. That is why most of the research and analysis presented in Warsaw was dedicated to one specific aspect of city development which has experienced significant changes over the last 3 years. However we believe that this is a very good start and that we will have more opportunities for complex analysis in the forthcoming stages of our work – we still have 15 months to go, thanks to RSA grant supporting our activities.  

We are happy to invite you all to browse through the presentations which were delivered during Warsaw seminar. Please follow this link to the dedicated page of our blog. All authors are happy to share their presentation with wider audience. Some of them provided their contact details at the end of their presentations so you can ask them questions and engage into further discussions directly if the topic is relevant to your own interests. You are also welcome to use network e-mail bulletin as a source of contacts and instrument to disseminate your knowledge and news that are relevant to the group. If you are not yet subscribed write to Olga Mrinska to be included in the mailing list.

So next time we are going to get together in Kyiv, Ukraine, in October 2012 (the date still to be confirmed) after the buzz of Euro-2012 gets quieter and hotel/flight tickets prices return to their normal levels. We might only hope that by then the predictability of global economic situation will improve and we will stand on more solid ground. However even (most probably) if it does not happen our research platform will be an excellent place to share the ideas and experiences across capital cities of the world which otherwise might not be known to us. And who knows, maybe then there will be more answers than questions.

Meanwhile we are reverting to our virtual life and hoping RN will bring more exciting news and information to you – just watch this space.

1 comment:

  1. URBACT ( is a European programme which gathers 300 cities in Europe on sustainable urban projects. URBACT has developped an extensive expertise regarding the impact of the financial crisis on cities.

    For instance, one of URBACT publications called "URBACT cities facing the crisis: Impacts and responses" ( displays several city case studies such as Dublin.

    For more information :
    - Dublin city case: (p.22)
    - URBACT blog post on Cities and the crisis: