Cities are the bedrock of civilization. For millennia, they have attracted people with the promise of superior standards of living — from better economic and educational opportunities to easier access to quality public infrastructure such as housing, healthcare, and public transport. Today, however, many cities around the world are finding it challenging to live up to this promise. With urban migration accelerating at a dizzying rate – the United Nations projects that over two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities or urban centers by 2050 – existing resources and services in cities are coming under increasing pressure, rendering them dysfunctional and leading to glaring inequities.
There is no singular way to define or assess liveability; every city has a unique set of characteristics, from its history, culture, geography, and demographics, to how it is governed and what urban issues plague it. Therefore, improving liveability requires concerted efforts from multiple stakeholders including people, governments, and experts, to identify critical problem areas and opportunities, and devise contextual solutions. The TV show Tale of Two Cities, where Indian architect and urbanist Dikshu C. Kukreja sits down with global leaders, brings out great insights into what some major cities in the world are doing to create more liveable environments for their inhabitants. Here we present five examples: from Bogotá, Kolkata, Hannover, Tirana, and Washington, D.C.