World Towns Leadership Summit 2016


The World Towns Leadership Summit was organised by Scotland’s Towns Partnership, The International Downtown Assocation, Association of Town and City Management and Business Improvement Districts Scotland.

Around 200 delegates from around the globe gathered to discuss, debate, disagree, defend and develop a new, collective approach to thinking about, talking about and, most importantly, taking positive action in our urban places.

A key result of the Summit was the World Towns Agreement.  Co-produced with the Academy of Urbanism, Centre for Local Eeconomic Strategies and Architecture and Design Scotland. A milestone in urban development for the 21st century, the Agreement will be shared worldwide to help influence international authorities and governments, and to drive forward a new vision of civic governance.

IPM have contributed an evidence commentary to the development of the agreement, based on research work we have undertaken over the last few years, showing how this underpins the four guiding principles of identity, economy, government and citizenship and environment. A reference list is also available.

IPM was represented at the World Towns Leadership Summit by Simon Quin, Gary Warnaby and Cathy Parker (who presented the findings of HSUK2020).  We were delighted to bump into lots of old (longtime!) friends, like Jane Jenkins, Senior Fellow of IPM and Jim Yancula (Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Place Management and Development). Below you can read some of the ‘twhighlights’ of the Summit.




Personification of Place – RIP Drvar

drvar-4I was interested to hear about a funeral service for a town in western Bosnia-Hercegovina called Drvar. After the closure of the last employer in the town and with unemployment running at 80% the local people have held candle-light vigils and wrote obituaries for their town. According to the BBC, Drvar’s mayor, Stevica Lukac, “appeared at the mock funeral at the local Serbian Orthodox church but urged the crowd not to lose hope”. Many branding experts study the personification of brands – in other words how customers ascribe human personality characteristics to brands. This collective ‘mourning’ certainly demonstrates a strong sense of feeling and attachment to Drvar – and also how people see the negative consequences of job losses at a town level (rather than just what it means to them or their family). This collective involvement in such a symbolic act as a funeral for a town is, to my knowledge, the first of its kind. Maybe debating whether or not towns are brands is missing the point somewhat when they can achieve anthropomorphic status.