Project Report

"The Future of City Leadership in the United Kingdom"


a working paper for the Government Office For Science's Future of Cities Foresight program 

download it here

Project Team

The City Leadership Laboratory has been commissioned by the United Kingdom Government Office for Science, as a part of their Foresight project on the future of cities, to conduct a systematic review of the trends, futures and capacity building needs for city leadership in 38 small, medium and large cities of the United Kingdom.


The Future of City Leadership in the United Kingdom aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the UK, building on the Initiative’s existing international work (via the Urban Connections project) to engage local governments across the whole country, both at the major metropolitan and the secondary level, to better understand the state of the art of city leadership in a context of major national and international socio-economic changes. The research will identify trends and commonalities in modes of city leadership in major cities, key strategic orientations and gaps for further inter-city connections.  The project relies not only on a review of the current landscape, but also on workshops with city leaders and major city networks within the UK, as well as academic and industry experts. The research will culminate in the production of  a working paper for the evidence base of the Government Office for Science "Future of Cities" Foresight project’s Lead Expert Group (LEG), highlighting capacity building needs for the leadership of UK cities in the future, as well as an independent a 'national White Paper' providing advice to the UK Government on the state, future and need of city leadership in the UK. 

City Diplomacy and Twinning builds on the first report for the Government Office for Science, and in partnership with the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) offers a detailed analysis of the challenges and value of city diplomacy and city twinning. The report assesses UK and Chinese cases, reviews them alongside other international comparators, and offers preliminary policy advice on how to best leverage the networking potential of cities' external relations.

Both projects are funded by the UK Government Office for Science within the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS - now Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, or BEIS).