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The World Towns Framework: a call to action

Ian Davison Porter (Business Improvement Districts Scotland, Edinburgh, UK)
Diarmaid Lawlor (Architecture and Design Scotland, Edinburgh, UK)
Neil McInroy (Centre for Local Economic Strategies, Manchester, UK)
Cathy Parker (Institute of Place Management, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Phil Prentice (Scotland’s Towns Partnership, Edinburgh, UK)
Leigh Sparks (Institute for Retail Studies, Stirling Management School, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK)
Gary Warnaby (Faculty of Business and Law, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Article publication date: 4 December 2017




The purpose of this paper is to present the background to the development of the World Towns’ Framework, developed in June 2016 at the inaugural World Towns Leadership Summit in Scotland. The paper also provides an academic underpinning to the four pillars of the agreement; a unique sense of identity and place, economy, leadership and citizenship and environment. It ends with a call to action for practitioners, policymakers and organisations providing support to people in places who want to contribute to the development of the Framework and adopt it.


The paper is divided into four sections. The first section gives the background to the development of the World Towns Framework. The second section publishes the World Towns Framework in its entirety. The third section builds an evidence-base for the components or pillars of the World Towns Framework, based upon work undertaken by the think tanks and academic partners involved in its development. The final section sets out a call for action – explaining how the Framework can be further developed and utilised.


The paper contains three main contributions. It articulates a new narrative for towns, neighbourhoods and city districts in responding to contemporary urban challenges; it shapes a new urban agenda for these urban places and it asserts the need for new alliances and approaches essential for a strong competitive economy, which is more inclusive of towns and smaller places, combined with a fairer, more equal society.

Research limitations/implications

The evidence base for the research is limited to the work that has been carried out by the academic institutions and think tanks that supported the development of the World Towns’ Framework.

Practical implications

The practical implication of the World Towns Framework are a shared understanding of how towns and smaller places can engage in management, development and marketing practices that will lead to a stronger economy and fairer society.

Social implications

The focus upon place uniqueness and identity, a more equitable economy, a greener and cleaner environment and stronger place leadership and citizenship can lead to better, fairer and more liveable places.

Originality value

This is the first attempt to develop a World Towns Framework to shape urban change outside of cities and metropoles.



Davison Porter, I., Lawlor, D., McInroy, N., Parker, C., Prentice, P., Sparks, L. and Warnaby, G. (2017), "The World Towns Framework: a call to action", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 10 No. 5, pp. 504-520.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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