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Urban Solutions Urban Solutions

Urban Solutions Issue 13: Innovation and Collaboration

How can governments, corporations and communities harness the power of innovation to co-create solutions that address pressing urban issues?

In conjunction with the 6th World Cities Summit taking place in Singapore from 8 to 12 July, Urban Solutions explores how innovation and collaboration can empower cities to become more liveable, sustainable and resilient. 

In this issue, we hear from two influential figures who are leading plans for the next stage of urban development in their respective nations. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe shares Sri Lanka’s Vision 2025 development plan and key projects such as the Western Region Megapolis, Colombo Port City and the Beira Lake transformation. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, speaks about the progress of Singapore’s Smart Nation plans and how people are at the heart of this digital transformation. 

Is it possible to build cities that encourage innovation, collaboration and resilience? Professor Geoffrey West takes a big-picture view calling for a scientific theory that explains how cities grow, as a first step towards a systemic strategy for sustainability. Mina Zhan and Michael Koh share how business districts worldwide are evolving to meet the demands of businesses and workers who seek more attractive work-live-play-learn downtown spaces. 

We highlight how cities are harnessing technology for smarter urban service delivery and management. Through the “Internet+” ecosystem comprising city governments, businesses and integrated platforms, Chinese cities are redefining modern living with more convenient urban services. In Singapore, the OneService@SG system helps public agencies offer coordinated services to citizens, while an intelligent transport management system ensures smooth traffic. 

While city leaders and policymakers continue to take the lead in planning for and investing in urban development, how can they give citizens more say in developing their cities? We explore how Seoul, the 2018 Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Laureate, made citizen participation a key part of its planning processes; while Hamburg, Kazan, Surabaya and Tokyo – recipients of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Special Mentions – adopted innovative and collaborative approaches in their development strategies. Nairobi, Santiago, Raleigh and Singapore also offer examples of their flourishing communityled urban initiatives. In London, crowdfunding platform Spacehive empowers citizens and organisations to collaborate on urban regeneration projects. 

Partnerships between leaders and communities, corporations and non-profit organisations are also growing. UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif shares the organisation’s three-pronged approach of integrating urban planning and design, legislation and municipal finance when working with cities such as Banha and Nairobi. We also examine Andhra Pradesh’s land pooling model, in which the state government worked with farmers to assemble land to develop the new state capital Amaravati.