Sergei Sobyanin: Megacities attract investment

Sergei Sobyanin: Megacities attract investment
Over 70 delegations from Russia’s regions and dozens of other countries are taking part in the urban forum that opened in Moscow today.

Sergei Sobyanin has addressed the plenary session titled “Responses to the challenges of fast-growing megacities. Technological possibilities” at the Moscow Urban Forum, which began in the Manezh exhibition centre.

“Over 70 delegations from Russia’s regions and dozens of other countries are attending the forum this year. It is the largest urban forum that has been held in Moscow recently. The large number of participants and their interest in the forum is likely due to Moscow’s dynamic development, which has piqued the interest of experts, architects and managers for Russia’s capital,” the mayor said.

Sobyanin said that development issues related to urbanisation, growing urban populations and other related challenges are calling loudly for attention and hence new technologies and managerial solutions.

“Megacities are the first to encounter problems and challenges, but they also have more development opportunities,” the mayor pointed out.

He also recalled the general myth about the conflict between cities and the surrounding regions, saying that this notion is only partly correct.

“On the contrary, big cities attract investment that doesn’t go to any other city and become centres of a new economic set-up, with more services for the public and huge markets for the products manufactured in the regions. They also become the financial centres for the development of entire countries,” Sergei Sobyanin said.

Sobyanin mentioned competition among global megacities.  

“It would be even more accurate to say that we – megacities – complement each other and build civilisational ties between countries and large regions in culture, the economy and technology, as well as in exchanging experience. All of this is bringing synergy to development. We face the same challenges, like migration, security, overpopulation and infrastructure development,” the mayor said.

These challenges call for system-wide solutions, and this is why this year’s Moscow urban forum is focused on new technologies and megaprojects.

According to Sobyanin, big cities cannot be managed without modern technologies. On the other hand, megacities are where these technologies are created and from where they spread around the country’s regions.

“The second issue is megaprojects, which are mostly understood as huge construction projects. This is true only partly. You can see from the booths that Moscow is in the middle of several challenging projects, such as metro and railway lines, including the Moscow Belt Railway, the Moscow City international business centre, the world’s largest stadiums and other megaprojects, which are large in terms of volume and investment. At the same time, new technology can be also described as a megaproject,” the mayor said.

Local solutions are ineffective in megacities, as real solutions must concern millions of people. “But such projects cannot be implemented in a megacity without consensus, which calls for dialogue and compromise. At the same time, reaching such decisions should not take decades; rather, they should be made and implemented as fast as possible so we don’t lag behind global trends and become uncompetitive,” Sobyanin said.

Moscow’s megaprojects include the creation of a system of urban referendums, in which over 1.3 million people have taken part, and the unified healthcare information system for getting an appointment with a doctor and for monitoring the financial, organisational and managerial aspects of healthcare.

“We also have an intelligent traffic control system that covers public and private transport throughout the city. It involves millions of vehicles whose movement is regulated from a single centre,” the mayor said.

Under another megaproject, many courtyards and thousands of streets have been improved and hundreds of parks created.

“Furthermore, very simple and even elementary jobs can become megaprojects. Take courtyard improvement. Can you describe this as a megaproject? Yes, you can, if it involvements thousands of courtyards. Is the creation of a small park a megaproject? Yes, it is, when it involves the creation or improvement of hundreds of parks with an area of tens and even hundreds of hectares, and when the job is done at world level. Is street renovation a megaproject? Yes, it is a megaproject when you renovate 3,500 streets, a megaproject that calls for thorough consideration,” the Moscow mayor said.