The OECD international conference on "Sustainable Cities: Linking Competitiveness with Social Cohesion" was held in co-operation with the Federal government of Canada, in Montreal, and hosted by the Metropolitan Community of Montreal. This high-level event brought together government leaders, policy makers and practitioners to examine and elaborate on the link between city competitiveness and social cohesion.
The conference was the third in a series of conferences organised by the OECD to examine the challenges faced by large cities concerned with improving their economic competitiveness while providing the social and environmental conditions that are also necessary in order to retain and attract skills and investment. While the Santa Cruz conference (March 2005) had a clear focus on the economic aspects of city competitiveness (education, innovation, networks and clusters) and the Nagoya conference (June 2005) addressed the physical dimension (attractiveness, infrastructure), the Montreal conference (October 2005) discussed the social dimension of city competitiveness.
By bringing together international experts, public officials and politicians, the conference was a key opportunity to further the ongoing work of the OECD Working Party on Territorial Policy in Urban Areas (WPUA) and Territorial Development Policy Committee (TDPC) on identifying effective policy strategies for metropolitan areas.
This two-day conference included five sessions, each with a keynote speaker presentation followed by a panel discussion composed of national and local government representatives, mayors and practitioners. Session 1 focused on social cohesion as a factor of competitiveness and regional growth; Session 2 looked at labour market integration; Session 3 discussed whether distressed urban areas can become poles of growth; Session 4 looked at the role of the private sector in enhancing social cohesion; and Session 5 addressed governance for metropolitan sustainability. The conference closed with a roundtable discussion on the role of national governments in developing an urban policy that integrates both objectives.