The future of cities post-COVID 

illustration of people first city

New release:
Courageous leadership needed in a polycrisis world

People across the planet are grappling with the effects of multiple overlapping challenges. COVID-19, climate change, social inequality, supply chain disruptions, persistently high inflation and the probability of recession pose significant obstacles to advancing healthy societies and building climate resilience.

Cities concentrate these challenges but also may hold the key to overcome them.

Despite cultural shifts that have altered the way we live and work, cities continue to flourish. Today, more than half the world’s population (55%) lives in cities, up from just 30% in 1950. And by 2050, this figure is expected to soar to 70%, with an estimated 2.5 billion people migrating to urban areas over the next 20 years.

Despite speculation, cities will be the centres of wealth, prosperity, creativity, and innovation.

People worldwide face formidable challenges: the impacts of COVID-19, climate change, social inequality, supply chain disruption, inflation, and recession risks.

Despite profound shifts in how we live and work, cities continue to grow.

Today, 55% of the world’s people live in cities. And by 2050, this figure will likely grow to 70%.

In an increasingly urban connected world, cities continue to serve as centres of wealth, prosperity, and innovation.

Throughout history, pandemics have shaped how people experience cities, influencing every aspect of their social lives, economic choices, and health.

More than ever, we must create thriving cities where people flourish, and businesses prosper.

At Mercer, we call this “people first.”

People First: The Future of Cities Post-COVID focuses on three pillars of well-being:  

  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Financial

In a post-pandemic era, our People-First platform helps organisations navigate the transformation of cities as cities and businesses remake themselves to become People-First.

Explore how city trends intersect with the future of work and discover how global talent trends and new work operating systems are shaping tomorrow’s world of work.

Download our latest insights to see how to build for success in the cities of today and tomorrow and stay tuned for more!

People First: The future of cities post-COVID

Although we see constant speculation about their future, cities will continue to be the centres of wealth, prosperity, creativity, and innovation.

Employees are calling for healthier societies that support well-being

Developing nations will likely dominate megacity growth over the next decade; however, the COVID-19 pandemic also impacted developed nations. Although cities remain at the heart of the human experience, we saw movement out of economic hub cities into smaller cities, driven by remote and hybrid working and climate-change risks.

Throughout history, pandemics have shaped how people relate to cities. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception, highlighting systemic issues touching every aspect of urban life — from access to health, education, and public space, to commerce and economic activity, to social inequality and interconnectivity. Employees are calling on both the private sector and governments to create a healthier society that supports well-being alongside economic prosperity and improved information technology

We must cultivate healthy, thriving companies to have flourishing and prosperous cities, societies, and workforces. If designed well, such a change can enable agility and resilience across businesses and institutions through times of volatility and increasing uncertainty. At Mercer, we call the new paradigm or platform we need to aim for the People-First City.
David Anderson

Chief Commercial Officer, Mercer

Thriving organisations are reimagining work

See how leaders are reimagining the role of organisations in thriving amid polycrisis by promoting healthier and more sustainable cities.

The second article in our three-part series includes:

  • Insights from Mercer's report "Beat the crisis-How executives are responding to economic shocks and talent shortages"
  • Unique perspectives from our discussion on how your businesses can improve the lives of everyone it touches, greatly increasing long-term shareholder returns in the process, with Paul Polman, former Unilever CEO (2009–2019), business leader, campaigner and co-author of Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take

Stay tuned! There’s more to come from Mercer and our Marsh McLennan colleagues.

David Anderson
Samira Elasmar

Passionate leader, growth oriented with 14+ years of experience in driving strategy across various industries and in consulting with a proven track record of managing high impact teams, driving sales & revenue growth, and realising operational efficiencies. Expertise lies in translating growth strategies into tangible programs to drive business results, with experience in thought leadership, lobbying with the World Economic Forum, B20 and the European Commission.

Expert at driving large-scale change, I combine robust analytical skills and operational strengths to manage culturally diverse teams, P&Ls, business growth and clients' relationship with C-Levels executives.

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