History: The Mega Cities Project


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Produced by the Discovery Channel (1995)

The Mega Cities Project was initiated in 1987 to combine theory and practice in the search for successful approaches to improving urban management and the conditions of daily life in the world's largest cities. The approach was based on a collaborative effort among government, business and community leaders in these cities to shorten the time lag between innovative ideas and their implementation and diffusion. The Project was designed not simply to identify, distill, and disseminate positive approaches, but to strengthen the leaders and groups who are evolving them and find sources of support to multiply their efforts.

The Project follows a dual strategy, functioning simultaneously at the practical and theoretical levels. On the one hand, it shares 'best practice' among the cities and puts the lessons of experience in the hands of decision makers and the public; and, on the other hand, it seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the process of innovation and the consequences for deliberate social changes in cities.


We created a strategy or replacing despair with hope using the model of an upward spiral to move from the present city to the desirable city thru international collaboration. We identified the necessary preconditions for getting on the public policy agenda.

We built a network of networks within and among the largest cities in the world.

  • We identified extraordinary people to be the coordinators of MCP in each city.
  • We identified host institutions as partners.
  • We create steering committees with innovative leaders from business, governments, NGOs, grassroots groups, academia and the media.


We collectively developed a methodology to identify and filter innovations.

  • We trained research teams to search for and document innovations.
  • We developed a Global Advisory Board of nationally and internationally renowned individuals to help provide credibility and move the agenda.
  • We documented dozens of innovations in each city and wrote in-depth case studies of the most system- challenging and far-reaching among these.


We transferred over 40 innovations across boundaries of neighborhoods, nations, cultures, political systems and socio-economic levels.

Organized Innovation Expositions in NY, LA, Istanbul providing a prototype for World Bank innovation marketplace.

Read Janice Perlman's 'A Dual Strategy for Deliberate Social Change in Cities'