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A key question for 21st century governance is whether democratic institutions will be able to adapt to increasingly rapid social, economic and technological change, or whether they will be overwhelmed by this change. Big cities are on the frontlines of this challenge, with urbanization and ‘youth bulges’ taxing physical and political infrastructure and raising the question of whether political elites can address the diverse needs and demands of today’s urban communities. Cities’ success or failure in governing effectively is a key factor not only in residents’ ability to access economic and social opportunity, but in their ability to feel connected to authority and place trust in representative institutions. Fortunately, leading cities are leveraging their creative and technological capital to become laboratories for public-sector innovation. Their initiatives, if successful, have the potential to impact millions of lives in the short- to medium-term, while also scaling upward and outward to national entities and to other cities.

To assist urban leaders in learning from one another, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) has partnered with Living Cities to coordinate a global series of site visits to facilitate peer-to-peer dialogue and produce a set of multimedia case studies focused on democratic innovations which produce more inclusive, innovative and approachable city governance.

NDI is a nonprofit organization established in 1983 that works to strengthen and expand democracy worldwide. Calling on a global network of experts, NDI provides practical assistance to civic and political leaders advancing democratic values, practices and institutions. In recent years, NDI has expanded its programming with respect to open government and innovation and has also established a small presence in Silicon Valley to support its growing relationships with the technology sector.

Living Cities harnesses the collective power of 18 of the world's leading foundations and financial institutions to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. Its investments, research, networks, and convenings catalyze fresh thinking and combine support for innovative, local approaches with real-time sharing of learning to accelerate adoption in more places.

For more information, please email contact[at]bigboldcities.org