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Young leaders share ideas on future cities

Many views on how to build a better place to live but all agree good governance is best

Published on Jun 1, 2014 2:31 PM
 
Participants of the World Cities Summit Young Leaders Symposium held at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre yesterday. The 57 young leaders were all aged between 30 and 45, and featured government officials, urban planners, industry experts, architects, economists and researchers from 28 countries. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Some cities need ultra-modern technology; less developed ones just want decent public transport. However 57 "young leaders" in Singapore yesterday agreed that the best way to improve a city is good governance.

The World Cities Summit's inaugural Young Leaders Symposium took place at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre.

It featured government officials, urban planners, industry experts, architects, economists and researchers from 28 countries.

All were aged between 30 and 45 and took part in a discussion on how to make cities of the future better places to live.

For the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Australia, 43-year-old Stephen Yarwood, the day of exchanging views with digital-savvy delegates was inspiring.

He intends to put on trial a way to track parking spaces in real time so prices can be adjusted depending on how empty or full a car park is.

Emptier lots would mean cheaper parking for motorists, but those same prices would rise during periods of congestion, encouraging more to use public transport.

"Just as cars defined the 20th century spatial dynamic of cities, the 21st century city will be manipulated and controlled through technology," he said.

The mayor of Taguig City in the Philippines, Ms Maria Laarni "Lani" L. Cayetano, 32, took more modest, but no less fundamental, lessons from the exchanges.

"Many delegates talked about technology and IT a lot, but we all have to go back to basics," she said.

She will return home reminded of the importance of "genuine" governance - listening to the needs of people.

Mr Cheng Hsing Yao, 42, a Singaporean and former city planner who oversees projects for developer GuocoLand, said all delegates agreed on the need for good governance and a strong leadership with a robust vision.

"There was a great diversity of viewpoints, but at the same time a lot of convergence on... core principles," he said.

Opening the symposium, Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee reminded public servants and policymakers present that they "cannot on their own" create liveable and sustainable cities.

"It requires the active and constructive contribution of the public, private and people sectors," he said.

He added that making a city better goes beyond simply building physical infrastructure.

"It is the passion and energy of our people, and the vibrance and civic-mindedness of the communities, that make cities come alive. They are really the soul of our cities."

Next year's symposium will be held in New York City.

The main conference - the biennial World Cities Summit - will take place from today until Wednesday.

Some 20,000 government leaders and urban experts will meet to discuss ways to build sustainable cities.

The Straits Times is the media partner for the World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week and the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore, all of which are starting today.

davidee@sph.com.sg

 

Background story

More than physical infrastructure

"It requires the active and constructive contribution of the public, private and people sectors... It is the passion and energy of our people, and the vibrance and civic-mindedness of the communities, that make cities come alive. They are really the soul of our cities."

MR DESMOND LEE, Minister of State for National Development, on what it takes to create liveable and sustainable cities

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