Mayors, industrial strategies and the future of inclusive growth | IGAU event report
The Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit, part of the Manchester Urban Institute, and IPPR North combined to host an event as part of the preparation of a think-piece for city-region Mayors on developing strategies for cities that can be both prosperous and inclusive.
The idea for the event was to help Mayors to understand how they can approach challenges like artificial intelligence and an ageing society in ways that decrease, rather than increase, inequalities.
Four presentations were given by experts at the University of Manchester on topics relating to the four ‘grand challenges’ set out by the National Industrial Strategy: AI and the Data Economy, the Future of Mobility, Ageing Society, and Clean Growth. Speakers were asked to communicate how knowledge within their field links to possibilities for inclusive growth. An overview was then given on IPPR’s Commission for Economic Justice followed by a discussion of local industrial strategies and how they can respond to the grand challenges, in ways which also promote inclusive growth/economic justice.
Professor of Technology and Organisation Debra Howcroft spoke on AI and the Data Economy, and the ways in which technology can promote or hinder economic justice. Dr Michael Hodson, a Senior Research Fellow at the Sustainable Consumption Institute, spoke on the future of mobility, and suggested that although promoting connectivity will help improve productivity, critical challenges remain that will need to be addressed, such as reducing the number of journeys made via private transport, and organising transport in ways that deal with air pollution. Professor Christopher Philipson presented on the future challenges posed by an ageing population. He questioned whether cities as key drivers of economic success will be able to integrate their ageing populations and whether the resources in cities can be used to support the quality of life of those in old age. Finally, Joe Ravetz, Co-Director of the Centre for Urban Resilience and Energy, spoke on how the clean growth agenda could operate alongside the development agenda with social justice at its heart. He outlined a ‘synergistic approach’ in which knowledge and intelligence from different sectors and disciplines may be used collaboratively to shift towards both clean and inclusive growth goals.
Subsequent discussion acknowledged the clear linkages between the grand challenges, and the possibility for integration when thinking of solutions. As well as this, however, was the understanding of the difficulties in thinking about and discussing solutions in this manner, which requires effective cross-disciplinary communication, cooperation and understanding. There was a discussion about our capacity for pooling knowledge across academic disciplines and with the policy world more broadly.
The final part of the discussion focused on how industrial strategies can respond to these challenges in ways that promote inclusive growth and economic justice. A key point emphasised throughout was how to combine and understand all the necessary information in order to make effective decisions that respond to the grand challenges and inclusive growth in Greater Manchester. One delegate spoke about working with local universities to develop a ‘matrix’ view – so that commonalities between domains can be realised, and all opportunities understood.