The Moscow Urban Forum 2018, which is being held for the first time in Zaryadye Park, opened with the plenary session “The Modern Megacity. New Space for Living”.
The Forum's keynote report “Moscow as a Global Megacity. Results of Changes and an Agenda for Development” was made by Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin. The mayor spoke about the transformations which have affected most aspects of life in the capital, as well as the challenges the city is set to face in the coming years.
From a city for factories to a city for people
In his speech, the Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin talked about Moscow's transformation from an industrial city, a city for factories, as it was in the late 1980s, into a city for people. Only a city oriented towards people can become a city for people, the Mayor of Moscow believes.
Sergey Sobyanin extolled Nikolskaya Street as a vivid example of a pleasant urban environment that has appeared in Moscow over the past few years. During the FIFA World Cup, it was seen by billions of people around the world. Sobyanin noted that, had it been left as it was in 2013, Nikolskaya Street would not have survived the World Cup.
During the World Cup, a new side to Moscow's character emerged. Sergey Sobyanin expressed hope that the atmosphere of hospitality, goodwill and kindness would continue after the football-related celebrations end.
Sobyanin identified the most important aspect in Moscow's development: a city that loves its citizens, and whose citizens love it back. The mayor said that 60% of Muscovites want to stay in their city. Sergey Sobyanin noted the very high percentage, which places Moscow far ahead of other megacities, in particular, New York, Singapore and Shanghai and puts it second only to London.
Leader in Education
Sergey Sobyanin said that the revolution taking place in Moscow's schools gives a central place to students. The quality of education in Moscow has more than doubled. Muscovites win more than half of all first places at the All-Russian Olympiads. PISA tests place Moscow 6th in the world in mathematics and reading.
The Moscow Electronic School project, which involved all 70,000 teachers of the city, allows them to take advantage of their colleagues' experience and lesson plans. Sergey Sobyanin noted that this allows an individual training path to be created, and increases competition in education.
Transport providing synergy
Sergey Sobyanin spoke about the overarching transport projects that are increasing the city's connectivity, providing synergy, and making the city more accessible to Muscovites. The Moscow Ring Railway, the former 'Rusty Ring of Moscow', has been turned into a new piece of transport infrastructure — the MCC, which has connected Moscow's districts and removed pressure from the Metro's circle line. Another project, the Moscow Central Diameters, will be a genuine overground metro, providing 446 km of line in Moscow and the Moscow Region.
Direct management of the city by the people
Moscow has created a fundamentally new system for public services and 90% of Muscovites are satisfied with its quality. The next step should be sincere service, when the barrier between the official and the citizen disappears.
People participate in the management of the city through the Our City portal, where all the services in the city can be monitored. Regular referendums on various issues are held as part of the Active Citizen service. Sobyanin stressed that it is important not only to vote, but also to develop ideas collaboratively.
Pleasant environment attracts investors
The city's mayor believes investing in infrastructure is attractive to investors. Investment in Moscow has recently increased by 76 times. Moscow is not in debt and there is full confidence that the city can implement all of its planned programmes. Projects related to city improvement provide a return on investment in 1–2 years.
Sergey Sobyanin concluded that though Moscow may have already accomplished much, 90% of the work remains to be done.
Transforming the urban environment
Kirill Androsov, managing partner of Altera Capital, was the moderator of the discussion that took place during the plenary session. The moderator asked the experts to assess the results of large-scale city initiatives of the last decade, how Moscow has coped with the challenges of transforming its urban environment and what results have been achieved.
Elizabeth Diller, architect, co-founder of the Diller Scofidio+Renfro design studio, one of the authors of the Zaryadye Park concept, described how architectural projects can revive and give renewed meaning to familiar urban spaces. 'Our studio took the opportunity to turn Zaryadye's space into a new type of park — Zaryadye became a kind of "wild urbanism", a place where plants and people would feel equally comfortable,' noted Elizabeth Diller.
Bruce Katz, co-founder of New Localism Advisors, economist, shared his experience advising former industrial cities that have embarked on a path of transforming into cities with an innovative economy. “The technologies of the future, such as self-driving cars, robotics and the blockchain, will change the face of cities in the coming years and will become the basis for economic growth. Moscow, like any other world megacity, should become an engine for these transformations,” Bruce Katz said. “Institutions, including the state, must become an ECOsystem, and not an EGOsystem for the development of new technologies,” stressed Bruce Katz.
Cultural sites and museums have become an important part of Moscow's new image and urban structure. Rem Koolhaas, renowned architect and co-founder of the OMA bureau, designed the Garage Museum project and is participating in the reconstruction of the Tretyakov Gallery. “People feel comfortable in a city not only when technology and economics are actively developing, they also require intellectual development. Museums and other cultural sites should become centres of attraction, helping people to feel part of the urban environment,” Rem Koolhaas said.
Alexei Kudrin, Chairman of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, drew attention to the creative industry, which combines elements of engineering and the arts. "Creative people need a special environment. The creative industries can create added value for cities, including Moscow”. Alexei Kudrin believes Moscow can become a model for creating large agglomerations in other regions of Russia, around which a competitive environment will develop.
In concluding the plenary session, Sergey Sobyanin appealed for Moscow not to be limited in its development. The Mayor stressed that any attempt to use administrative means to restrict the development of a megacity that is competing with New York and Paris would be unproductive. Sergey Sobyanin said that although the city will never be complete, the most important thing is to aspire to making Moscow the best city in the world.