Ladies and gentlemen,

I am most honored to have been asked to deliver the introductory remarks for this edition of the Toronto Forum for Global Cities. The last decades have been the stage for probably the most massive and dramatic processes the world has ever seen. Globalization on all fronts accelerated, and as a result growth and innovation reached unprecedented peaks, to the point that it is now difficult to keep track of developments in the constantly evolving world surrounding us. As we all know, towering problems have kept pace with unprecedented achievements: the growing complexities of the world economy have created formidable challenges to policymakers in all fields, from macroeconomic policy and financial architecture, to resource sustainability and structural reform.

The most catastrophic international crisis in history has set in motion numerous initiatives to tackle global economic and financial stability. It is perhaps premature to say that we are moving on to a new paradigm in economic policy; but, as a central banker striving to preserve his country from the ups and downs of international markets, I know full well that lately we had to expand our traditional toolkit to include some non-conventional instruments more suitable to respond to the fresh challenges facing us; and there seems to be an emerging consensus in world forums on the need to finally address multilateral macroeconomic and financial coordination to avoid repeating the mistakes that led to the crisis and thus lay the foundation for sustained growth. That is what I see from my daily work as an economist. But I also see initiatives in other domains that are key to the overarching objective of achieving sustainable growth. This is where forums such as this one come in: they aim to instill a sense of urgency in public opinion about crucial structural problems that have been brewing for a long time, and that need to be addressed with determination. The list is long: concerns about global warming, resource depletion, food shortages, and population ageing are now part of the global landscape, and this and other forums have been discussing them for some years now. In this respect, I find the emblem of this initiative, the “Global Cities”, very motivating. It evokes the idea of the “city of the future”, which has provided powerful inspiration to the sciences and the arts for centuries, but that in our time takes on a new meaning. It ushers in a vision of modernity and prosperity, balanced with efficient energy models, adequate infrastructure, knowledge, and human development. All these considerations form the notions of “optimal growth” and “greater balance”, which underlie the subjects that we will discuss in the next couple of days. Some discussions will have a macroeconomic and multilateral scope, while others will present innovative ideas on the microeconomic front, touching on issues like transportation and education, which are equally central to the feasibility of the “Global Cities”.

I need to say that it is only appropriate that this meeting is taking place in Toronto, reputedly one of the most advanced cities in the world. I thank the organizers, and look forward to what will surely be a very stimulating exchange of ideas.

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