Urban planning lessons: the Singapore summit
The theme of the World Cities Summit 2022 is “Livable and Sustainable Cities: Emerge Stronger”. It will be a four-day event from July 31 to August 3, 2022.
The Covid epidemic had practically shut down the Cities of the world, to such an extent that a huge population was not only incarcerated out of legitimate fear, but that economic and social life became untenable. Millions have lost their livelihoods. Billions of dollars have been eroded by businesses, especially airlines and those totally dependent on tourism like Sri Lanka. Somehow, saving his life was the priority.
Out of this scenario, leaving behind a bad dream but not the thought and will to face such an eventuality again, today Sunday will see the congregation of a large, focused group of business leaders, mayors, governments and delegates from various regions of the world, at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Singapore, to attend the 8th edition of the World Cities Summit (WCS). It will be a four-day event from July 31 to August 3, 2022.
The theme for WCS 2022 is “Livable and Sustainable Cities: Emerge Stronger”.
Summiteers will discuss issues relating to livable and sustainable cities, exchange integrated urban solutions, present case studies and also create new partnerships, as well as the first-ever WCS Smart Cities workshop. This is a global biennial conference hosted by Singapore and co-hosted by the Center for Livable Cities Singapore and the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Strategic partners include the World Bank and several United Nations agencies, including ESCAP.
Corroborated by the World Health Organization, almost 91% of the world’s population lives in areas where the air quality exceeds recommended standards, which has a negative effect on human health and the environment. One solution is a new generation of bus shelters with foam-covered roofs, which helps improve air quality for passengers and provide a natural cooling system and has become an effective solution to urban heat islands in many regions of the world.
Likewise, smart data-driven traffic management solutions have not only become essential tools for transport authorities, they are also essential for reducing congestion and reshaping the ways in which safer cities are planned and developed.
Over the next few decades, the number of buildings in the world is expected to double. Urban experts and opinion leaders are concerned about the massive construction boom and its environmental impact. It remains to be debated how accurate carbon data will reduce environmental effects and balance with sustainability.
June 5 was World Environment Day, June 8 was World Ocean Day. From raising awareness and encouraging action on the climate crisis to revitalizing the ocean and managing human activities sustainably, the idea will be discussed during the plenary session titled “Livable and Sustainable Cities: Combating the climate crisis”.
The previous virtual summit in October 2021 brought similar interactions as an evolving process of redefining priorities and agendas, to make cities more livable and hospitable to residents.
Thus, while discussing that global cities need equity, climate action and a focus on citizens.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham had stressed that the vulnerabilities of low-income people should matter to everyone “Inequality mattered before the pandemic, but I think the pandemic has made it clear why it really matters. It is clearly difficult for people without secure employment to protect their own health. But it also affects everyone else’s health.
Mr. Ngatcha Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of International Affairs and La Francophonie remarked “Cities are strong when they learn from each other and guarantee good practices”. He cited examples of Paris’ actions towards a green recovery, which was the construction of hundreds of new cycle links, the planting of 170,000 trees and the renovation of 5,000 homes to reduce poverty and improve access to cleaner heating solutions.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, invited by the hosts to attend the summit, was expected to present the case for the capital and its improved school education system, which means a lot to its huge population.
Pak Sandiaga Uno, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesia believes that “tourists in the post-pandemic era will have much higher expectations in terms of cleanliness, health, safety and environmental sustainability. Many millennials traveling to Bali want to engage in tourism activities that offset the carbon they used to travel to Bali. According to him, tourist destinations will have to respond to the growing ecological demands of the public and prioritize the well-being of their tourists and citizens.
Mayor Burnham also observed that the average workweek now looks different given the mix of remote and in-person work, necessitating a rethink of the space. One of the lessons of the Covid pandemic is the pressing question of how to build cities that not only help residents live, but help engage as healthy, happy individuals. City and industry leaders are therefore likely to express confidence in prioritizing flexible, people-centred, nature-based interdisciplinary approaches to city planning.
Regarding the happiness quotient and not forgetting Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan, Professor Lam Khee Poh, Dean of the NUS School of Design and Environment in Singapore, said: “Happy people tend to be healthier because of their lifestyle choices. A healthy city must therefore create inspiring and conducive physical and social environments to support such choices. Thus, the focus must be on the people that cities are built to accommodate and serve.
Brian Yang, partner and architect at Bjarke Ingels Group of New York and Copenhagen, believes we need to reconsider how social bonds are formed and strengthened in times of disruption. During Copenhagen’s lockdown, bakeries, squares and parks became important spaces that allowed residents to always feel connected to one another. It supports the importance of community-centered design, highlighting Maison 8, an experiment aimed at extending street life into buildings, while creating a “unique sense of community and intimacy, but with the density and programming of an urban perimeter block”. .
Professor Lam Khee Poh (Dean School of Design & Environment National University of Singapore) believes he asks his students to navigate Singapore’s housing blocks with wheelchairs, as part of his experiential learning pedagogy: “Once they’ve done that, they never forget!”
When thinking about livable cities, the idea also comes from encouraging flexible and cross-cutting approaches to development. Limited resources can thus be maximized and old infrastructure can be reallocated. Cities must ultimately be resilient to climate change.