Our vision, set out in 2011, when we published the Agenda for Cities remains true:
A Scotland where our cities and their regions power Scotland's economy for the benefit of all.
Scotland's Economic Strategy forms the backdrop to Scotland's Agenda for Cities. Our cities and their regions are important players in delivering the priorities of Scotland's Economic Strategy - to increase internationalisation, boost investment and innovation and support inclusive growth.
Our role as Government is to help our cities realise their city visions and strengthen their partnerships. This Agenda sets out what we will do to provide that support so that cities themselves, with their partners, can be in the driving seat.
Our focus on cities delivers wider benefits for city regions and for all of Scotland. In 2012, Perth joined Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling creating seven distinctive cities and city regions. Good transport connections, affordable housing and local amenities make the regions outside the cities attractive to many city workers, who also enjoy being near to the social and cultural hubs that thrive in cities. Scotland's cities and their regions gain from their easy access to the varied beauty of rural Scotland and in turn, Scotland's cities provide a natural home for research and development, education and international connections that support businesses in rural Scotland. When our cities thrive, the rest of Scotland shares the benefit.
Where inequalities persist, we see them most clearly in our cities. That is why this refresh has a particular emphasis on inclusive growth. A clear focus on growth and a commitment to greater equality, developed collaboratively with and across our cities, will help to strengthen the measures we are taking to tackle disadvantage and to ensure that opportunities are available to all.
The first Agenda set the foundations for the Scottish Cities Alliance. Today, it is a reality - and widely acknowledged as an effective collaborative model. I am particularly pleased that the Scottish Cities Alliance is developing more meaningful links with Europe. By engaging in this way, we can explore new opportunities to influence decisions there, learning from other nations and sharing good practice from Scotland.
This Agenda has been developed collaboratively. It aims to acknowledge significant achievements and progress, and to focus our energies on future opportunities and plans. It aims to embrace innovative technologies that will change our cities in ways we can barely imagine, and to make real our cities' ambitious infrastructure plans more quickly, by attracting new investment from around the world. We want to make Scotland's cities and their regions exemplars in digital and transport connectivity, low carbon approaches and affordable housing. And most importantly, we want to engage Scotland's people in this transformation, opening up new ways of thinking and working together as partners.
Already, Scotland is punching above its weight. This Agenda supports our cities to build on our reputation for innovation, risk-taking and boldness, here in Scotland, Europe and across the world. It provides an enabling framework for action that will benefit all Scotland's people, wherever they live.
I commend this Agenda to you and look forward to continuing our work to help Scotland thrive.
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities