Moscow's Experience in a Global Context: Goals and Priorities Moscow's Experience in a Global Context: Goals and Priorities

Moscow Urban Forum 2015 held under the theme "Moscow as a Dynamic Megacity: Flexible Management Practices" started its work in the Russian capital. The business programme of the Forum began with the plenary session "Moscow's Experience in the Global Context: Goals and Priorities."


The year of 2015 marks an anniversary not only for the Forum—this October marked the 5th anniversary of accession by Sergey Sobyanin to the Moscow's Mayor Office. Given this fact, the key agenda of the Forum is focused on the urban development experience and achievements of Moscow in these five years, particular aspects of using and implementing the best international practices in the Russian capital, as well as on new projects planned for implementation.


In his special address presented during the plenary session, the Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin summed up the results achieved by his team over these five years and spoke about the implementation of strategically important city programmes, such as the development of new territories, expansion of the transport system along with the reduction of traffic load, active improvement and development of public spaces, implementation of new quality standards for housing, modernization of the health care system, and providing the citizens with new opportunities to participate in the urban development process.


Sergey Sobyanin kicked the session off with his main speech.

"Moscow has to do its part to stay aligned with global trends. This session is devoted to a discussion of Moscow's experience in finding solutions to global and local issues involving improvements to the built environment" Sobyanin remarked.


According to the Mayor, city managers have overcome the odds and completed a staggering number of projects that often bordered on the impossible. The city's development performance has skyrocketed, and it now has even joined the ranks of other world leaders. Moscow had to undergo in a much tighter time frame the kinds of transformations European countries were dealing with in the span of dozens of years. It did this by using only the best solutions that had proven results in other cities.


The discussion involved the leading international experts in the field of urbanism, such as Burkhard Jung, Mayor of Leipzig, Germany, Maurice Leroy, Member of the National Assembly of France, Chairman of the General Council of Loir-et-Cher Department, Minister of Urban Affairs in charge of the Greater Paris (2010–2012), Pierfrancesco Maran, Deputy Mayor for Mobility, Environment, Subways, Public Water & Energy, City of Milan, Italy, Vicente Guallart, Chief Architect of Barcelona City Council (2011–2015), Head of Guallart Architects and Founder of IAAC (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia), Spain. The plenary session was also attended by representatives of the largest Russian companies and government authorities, such as Igor Shuvalov, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Men, Minister of Construction, Housing, and Utilities of the Russian Federation, and many others.


As part of the panel discussion, the participants focused on three main goals—that is, accessibility, diversity, and flexibility—which dominate the development plans of a large modern city that lives amid the increasingly intense financial, human, cultural, and information flows. The achievement of these goals becomes a prerequisite for the inclusion of the city in the national and global context, as it becomes the key to its successful interaction both with other cities and with various levels of political, administrative, fiscal, and cultural hierarchy.


"Moscow is not just a major city; each and every one of its districts has a wholly unique character." Vincente Guallart, the chief architect of Barcelona from 2011 to 2015, shared with the public. The polycentric city model that Moscow is emulating, coupled with the advanced development of the Moscow River as a main thruway, will help the Russian capital improve quality of life for city residents. When asked, the Lord Mayor of Leipzig, Burkharda Yunga, said that the use of waterways for transportation and public recreation is a major improvement to the city's infrastructure.


Maurice Leroy, a long-time member of the Moscow Urban Forum and representative of the French National Assembly, acknowledged just how far Moscow has come in the last five years. Moscow even surpassed France in certain criteria, including metro construction. The benefits city managers have generated for the city can be seen in both residential construction, and in the positive transformations of public areas, including VDNKh, Gorky Park, and Muzeon. All of these changes were brought about in record time. Moscow is also growing "smarter" by using more information technology systems to communicate better with its citizens. "It's truly becoming a leader amongst European countries in this sense," Maurice Leroy stated at the Forum.


"The ability of countries to rely solely on infill for the needs of urban development is simply no longer viable. Every speck of real estate is already in use, and that limits our engineering power. Branching out and building comprehensive systems in new territories can solve the development problems city's face when construction is condensed into too small an area." Mikhail Men, the Minister of Construction and Housing and Utility Services, shared recently.


This session was prepared under the supervision of the Graduate School of Urban Studies. It was moderated by Lawrence Barth, Professor of Urbanism at the Graduate School of the Architectural Association, London, member of the Academy of Urbanism, UK.


The business programme of the Forum will be continued with 11 sessions held in the format of round tables and panel discussions. The participants will discuss such topics as changing patterns of transport behaviour by the citizens, drivers of the city's polycentric development model, developing the industrial and investment potential of the Russian capital, and housing policy priorities in Moscow. In addition, the participants will address such topics as creating cultural and event infrastructure in Moscow, developing New Moscow, creating the image of Moscow in the cyber space as an extension of the city, improving the street infrastructure and searching for effective solutions for the city's health care system. The first day of the Moscow Urban Forum 2015 will end with the plenary session "Moscow: Guidelines for Development and Risk Management" attended by the Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin.