Is creation of an agglomeration a step towards economic growth? What priorities should be followed in urban agglomeration outgrowth and what role does convenience and comfort play in this? The second day of the Gaidar Forum 2021 featured the panel discussion From City to Agglomeration which focused on the problems of people living in cities and urban agglomerations.
Irek Faizullin, Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities of the Russian Federation, Vasily Golubev, Governor of the Rostov Region, Tadashi Matsumoto, Head of the Russian International Project with OECD “Review of Urban Policies in Russia” and Head of the Sustainable Development and Global Relations of the Center for SMEs, Regions and Cities of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Denis Filippov, Deputy General Director of DOM.RF and General Director of the DOM.RF Fund participated in the discussion.
Over the past 40 years, the urban population has increased by 50%, not because of the growth of cities, but because the boundaries of cities are blurring. Nowadays, as regards the borders, the functional approach is the most popular approach in the world, reminded the moderator of the discussion Antonina Levashenko, Head of the Russia-OECD Center of RANEPA. She noted that in Russia, statistics were still collected within the administrative boundaries of the city and management decisions were based on them.
Irek Faizullin formulated one of the most important priorities that must be adhered to in the outgrowth of urban agglomerations, namely the creation of job opportunities. "It is clear that schools and hospitals will be built in the new areas of integrated development, we do this in a standard way, but if there is no place to work, unnecessary movement begins. Therefore, an integrated solution is the basis for agglomeration development. It is necessary to form the centers of gravity in the areas of integrated development," he said.
This approach is already being implemented in some Russian regions, including Nizhny Novgorod and Saratov Regions, as well as the Rostov Region which was represented by its Governor Vasily Golubev at the event.
As part of the discussion, Tadashi Matsumoto told about the OECD project aimed at defining the functional boundaries of 38 Russian cities with populations over 500,000. The information on these cities will be analyzed in comparison with cities in other countries. The study covers 33 countries in total. The ultimate goal is to figure out how to better manage large agglomerations. The results of the study are scheduled to be presented in late 2021, Tadashi Matsumoto said.
Denis Filippov, General Director of the DOM.RF Fund, also touched on the issue of defining the boundaries of agglomerations. "We need to competently define the boundaries of agglomerations, we need to learn to count those pendulum flows that exist within the places where people work and live," he stressed.
Filippov reminded that people's comfort is the first consideration in construction planning. "Residents are the first priority to us. Every year we, together with the Ministry of Construction, calculate the index of quality of the urban environment, and we see the annual growth expressed in the satisfaction with life of people living in our subjects, our municipalities and hopefully our future agglomerations," he said.
In his turn, Vasily Golubev, Governor of the Rostov Region said: "About two-thirds of the population want to live in detached houses. Objectively, a quarter of the population have such houses today. The question arises, do people want agglomerations? Of course, people want comfort above all else," he said.
The panelists also discussed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on life in agglomerations beyond their borders. For instance, remote work and the desire to get out of the densely populated cities prompted many to move to live in the surrounding areas. Many were fine with the out-of-town lifestyle, some of them decided to not return to the cities after the lift of restrictions, especially since they managed to get used to the remote way of doing business in the meantime.
The Gaidar Forum “Russia and the World After the Pandemic” will be held on January 14 and 15 at the Presidential Academy. The Forum will traditionally open the annual business agenda of Russia. In 2021, this large-scale event will be held in a hybrid format, both online and offline.
This time, the main discussion track will be social and economic transformations that have occurred in the country and the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The expert discussions will be focused on the national and global development goals and the search for practical solutions to the most urgent challenges of today. The Forum’s participants include ministers from the Russian Government, members of the Federal Assembly, governors of the Russian regions, largest world experts, representatives of foreign states.
The general partners of the Gaidar Forum are Gazprom PJSC and Gazprombank JSC.
The strategic partners are Russian Railways OJSC, Johnson&Johnson, ACIG Group, Novartis.
The partner of the forum is MasterCard, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF)
The discussion partners are Magnit, Pepsi, Huawei, Coca-Cola, AstraZeneca, Takeda, EY.
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