Global Cities: Our Best Hope for a Sustainable Future

By: Gary Lawrence, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at AECOM
Jan 30, 2014 9:00 AM ET
Campaign: Thought Leadership
Learn more about the definition of a global city from AECOM's Gary Lawrence, vice president and chief sustainability officer.

Each of you has likely been involved in a meeting with the following characteristics:

  • Discussion takes place using common “terms of art” such as “global cities.”
  • Conclusions are reached and each person leaves the room knowing what was decided about actions to be taken and their roles and responsibilities.
  • A week or so later, a number of the meeting’s participants are feeling angry or betrayed because while the “term of art” was agreed to for many, the meaning was subtly or substantively different.

In my varied career roles, I’ve been involved in a number of meetings about global cities. In each meeting, it is assumed that everybody shares a common understanding of what a global city is. No meeting has ever begun with the question, “What is a global city?”

As is the case with many things regarding sustainability, the more I examine the term, the less certain I feel I understand the fundamental truth of it all...

For more from Gary Lawrence on the definition of a global city, check out the full article in Environmental Leader.



AECOM is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. With approximately 45,000 employees around the world, AECOM is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world's built, natural and social environments. A Fortune 500 company, AECOM serves clients in more than 140 countries and had revenue of $8.2 billion during the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2013. More information on AECOM and its services can be found at


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