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  • We can cut violent deaths around the world

  • by 50 percent in the next three decades.

  • All we have to do is drop killing by 2.3 percent a year,

  • and we'll hit that target.

  • You don't believe me?

  • Well, the leading epidemiologists and criminologists around the world

  • seem to think we can, and so do I,

  • but only if we focus on our cities, especially the most fragile ones.

  • You see, I've been thinking about this a lot.

  • For the last 20 years, I've been working

  • in countries and cities ripped apart by conflict,

  • violence, terrorism, or some insidious combination of all.

  • I've tracked gun smugglers from Russia to Somalia,

  • I've worked with warlords in Afghanistan and the Congo,

  • I've counted cadavers in Colombia, in Haiti, in Sri Lanka, in Papua New Guinea.

  • You don't need to be on the front line, though,

  • to get a sense that our planet is spinning out of control, right?

  • There's this feeling that international instability is the new normal.

  • But I want you to take a closer look,

  • and I think you'll see that the geography of violence is changing,

  • because it's not so much our nation states that are gripped by conflict and crime

  • as our cities: Aleppo, Bamako, Caracas, Erbil, Mosul, Tripoli, Salvador.

  • Violence is migrating to the metropole.

  • And maybe this is to be expected, right?

  • After all, most people today, they live in cities, not the countryside.

  • Just 600 cities, including 30 megacities, account for two thirds of global GDP.

  • But when it comes to cities,

  • the conversation is dominated by the North,

  • that is, North America, Western Europe, Australia and Japan,

  • where violence is actually at historic lows.

  • As a result, city enthusiasts, they talk about the triumph of the city,

  • of the creative classes, and the mayors that will rule the world.

  • Now, I hope that mayors do one day rule the world,

  • but, you know, the fact is,

  • we don't hear any conversation, really, about what is happening in the South.

  • And by South, I mean Latin America, Africa, Asia,

  • where violence in some cases is accelerating,

  • where infrastructure is overstretched,

  • and where governance is sometimes an aspiration and not a reality.

  • Now, some diplomats and development experts and specialists,

  • they talk about 40 to 50 fragile states

  • that will shape security in the 21st century.

  • I think it's fragile cities which will define the future of order and disorder.

  • That's because warfare and humanitarian action

  • are going to be concentrated in our cities,

  • and the fight for development,

  • whether you define that as eradicating poverty,

  • universal healthcare, beating back climate change,

  • will be won or lost in the shantytowns, slums and favelas of our cities.

  • I want to talk to you about four megarisks

  • that I think will define fragility in our time,

  • and if we can get to grips with these,

  • I think we can do something with that lethal violence problem.

  • So let me start with some good news.

  • Fact is, we're living in the most peaceful moment in human history.

  • Steven Pinker and others have shown how the intensity and frequency of conflict

  • is actually at an all-time low.

  • Now, Gaza, Syria, Sudan, Ukraine,

  • as ghastly as these conflicts are, and they are horrific,

  • they represent a relatively small blip upwards

  • in a 50-year-long secular decline.

  • What's more, we're seeing a dramatic reduction in homicide.

  • Manuel Eisner and others have shown

  • that for centuries, we've seen this incredible drop in murder,

  • especially in the West.

  • Most Northern cities today are 100 times safer than they were just 100 years ago.

  • These two facts -- the decline in armed conflict and the decline in murder --

  • are amongst the most extraordinary,

  • if unheralded, accomplishments of human history,

  • and we should be really excited, right?

  • Well, yeah, we should.

  • There's just one problem: These two scourges are still with us.

  • You see, 525,000 people -- men, women, boys and girls --

  • die violently every single year.

  • Research I've been doing with Keith Krause and others

  • has shown that between 50,000 and 60,000 people are dying in war zones violently.

  • The rest, almost 500,000 people, are dying outside of conflict zones.

  • In other words, 10 times more people are dying outside of war than inside war.

  • What's more, violence is moving south,

  • to Latin America and the Caribbean,

  • to parts of Central and Southern Africa,

  • and to bits of the Middle East and Central Asia.

  • Forty of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world

  • are right here in Latin America,

  • 13 in Brazil,

  • and the most dangerous of all, it's San Pedro Sula, Honduras' second city,

  • with a staggering homicide rate of 187 murders per 100,000 people.

  • That's 23 times the global average.

  • Now, if violence is re-concentrating geographically,

  • it's also being reconfigured to the world's new topography,

  • because when it comes to cities, the world ain't flat,

  • like Thomas Friedman likes to say.

  • It's spiky.

  • The dominance of the city as the primary mode of urban living

  • is one of the most extraordinary demographic reversals in history,

  • and it all happened so fast.

  • You all know the figures, right?

  • There's 7.3 billion people in the world today;

  • there will be 9.6 billion by 2050.

  • But consider this one fact:

  • In the 1800s, one in 30 people lived in cities,

  • today it's one in two,

  • and tomorrow virtually everyone is going to be there.

  • And this expansion in urbanization is going to be neither even nor equitable.

  • The vast majority, 90 percent,

  • will be happening in the South, in cities of the South.

  • So urban geographers and demographers,

  • they tell us that it's not necessarily the size or even the density of cities

  • that predicts violence, no.

  • Tokyo, with 35 million people,

  • is one of the largest, and some might say safest, urban metropolises in the world.

  • No, it's the speed of urbanization that matters.

  • I call this turbo-urbanization, and it's one of the key drivers of fragility.

  • When you think about the incredible expansion of these cities,

  • and you think about turbo-urbanization, think about Karachi.

  • Karachi was about 500,000 people in 1947, a hustling, bustling city.

  • Today, it's 21 million people,

  • and apart from accounting for three quarters of Pakistan's GDP,

  • it's also one of the most violent cities in South Asia.

  • Dhaka, Lagos, Kinshasa,

  • these cities are now 40 times larger than they were in the 1950s.

  • Now take a look at New York.

  • The Big Apple, it took 150 years to get to eight million people.

  • São Paulo, Mexico City, took 15 to reach that same interval.

  • Now, what do these medium, large, mega-, and hypercities look like?

  • What is their profile?

  • Well, for one thing, they're young.

  • What we're seeing in many of them is the rise of the youth bulge.

  • Now, this is actually a good news story.

  • It's a function of reductions in child mortality rates.

  • But the youth bulge is something we've got to watch.

  • What it basically means

  • is the proportion of young people living in our fragile cities

  • is much larger than those living in our healthier and wealthier ones.

  • In some fragile cities,

  • 75 percent of the population is under the age of 30.

  • Think about that: Three in four people are under 30.

  • It's like Palo Alto on steroids.

  • Now, if you look at Mogadishu for example,

  • in Mogadishu the mean age is 16 years old.

  • Ditto for Dhaka, Dili and Kabul.

  • And Tokyo? It's 46.

  • Same for most Western European cities.

  • Now, it's not just youth that necessarily predicts violence.

  • That's one factor among many,

  • but youthfulness combined with unemployment, lack of education,

  • and -- this is the kicker -- being male, is a deadly proposition.

  • They're statistically correlated, all those risk factors, with youth,

  • and they tend to relate to increases in violence.

  • Now, for those of you who are parents of teenage sons,

  • you know what I'm talking about, right?

  • Just imagine your boy without any structure

  • with those unruly friends of his, out there cavorting about.

  • Now, take away the parents,

  • take away the education, limit the education possibilities,

  • sprinkle in a little bit of drugs, alcohol and guns,

  • and sit back and watch the fireworks.

  • The implications are disconcerting.

  • Right here in Brazil, the life expectancy is 73.6 years.

  • If you live in Rio, I'm sorry, shave off two right there.

  • But if you're young, you're uneducated,

  • you lack employment, you're black, and you're male,

  • your life expectancy drops to less than 60 years old.

  • There's a reason why youthfulness and violence are the number one killers

  • in this country.

  • Okay, so it's not all doom and gloom in our cities.

  • After all, cities are hubs of innovation,

  • dynamism, prosperity, excitement, connectivity.

  • They're where the smart people gather.

  • And those young people I just mentioned,

  • they're more digitally savvy and tech-aware than ever before.

  • And this explosion, the Internet, and mobile technology,

  • means that the digital divide separating the North and the South

  • between countries and within them, is shrinking.

  • But as we've heard so many times,

  • these new technologies are dual-edged, right?

  • Take the case of law enforcement.

  • Police around the world are starting to use remote sensing and big data

  • to anticipate crime.

  • Some cops are able to predict criminal violence before it even happens.

  • The future crime scenario, it's here today,

  • and we've got to be careful.

  • We have to manage the issues of the public safety

  • against rights to individual privacy.

  • But it's not just the cops who are innovating.

  • We've heard extraordinary activities of civil society groups

  • who are engaging in local and global collective action,

  • and this is leading to digital protest and real revolution.

  • But most worrying of all are criminal gangs

  • who are going online and starting to colonize cyberspace.

  • In Ciudad Juárez in Mexico, where I've been working,

  • groups like the Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel

  • are hijacking social media.

  • They're using it to recruit, to sell their products,

  • to coerce, to intimidate and to kill.

  • Violence is going virtual.

  • So this is just a partial sketch

  • of a fast-moving and dynamic and complex situation.

  • I mean, there are many other megarisks

  • that are going to define fragility in our time,

  • not least income inequality,

  • poverty, climate change, impunity.

  • But we're facing a stark dilemma

  • where some cities are going to thrive and drive global growth

  • and others are going to stumble and pull it backwards.

  • If we're going to change course, we need to start a conversation.

  • We can't only focus on those cities that work,

  • the Singapores, the Kuala Lumpurs,

  • the Dubais, the Shanghais.

  • We've got to bring those fragile cities into the conversation.

  • One way to do this might be to start twinning

  • our fragile cities with our healthier and wealthier ones,

  • kickstarting a process of learning and collaboration

  • and sharing of practices, of what works and what doesn't.

  • A wonderful example of this is coming from El Salvador and Los Angeles,

  • where the mayors in San Salvador and Los Angeles are collaborating

  • on getting ex-gang members to work with current gang members,

  • offering tutoring, education,

  • and in the process are helping incubate cease-fires and truces,

  • and we've seen homicide rates go down in San Salvador,

  • once the world's most violent city,

  • by 50 percent.

  • We can also focus on hot cities, but also hot spots.

  • Place and location matter fundamentally in shaping violence in our cities.

  • Did you know that between one and two percent

  • of street addresses in any fragile city

  • can predict up to 99 percent of violent crime?

  • Take the case of São Paulo, where I've been working.

  • It's gone from being Brazil's most dangerous city to one of its safest,

  • and it did this by doubling down

  • on information collection, hot spot mapping, and police reform,

  • and in the process, it dropped homicide by 70 percent in just over 10 years.

  • We also got to focus on those hot people.

  • It's tragic, but being young, unemployed, uneducated, male,

  • increases the risks of being killed and killing.

  • We have to break this cycle of violence

  • and get in there early with our children, our youngest children,

  • and valorize them, not stigmatize them.

  • There's wonderful work that's happening that I've been involved with

  • in Kingston, Jamaica and right here in Rio,