The theme of World Cities Summit 2022 is ‘Liveable and Sustainable Cities: Emerging Stronger’. This will be a four-day event from 31 July to 3 August 2022.

The Covid epidemic had virtually closed the Cities of the world, so much so that a huge population was not only incarcerated out of legitimate fear, but economic and social life became untenable. Millions lost their livelihood. Billions of Dollars were eroded from businesses particularly airlines and those totally dependent on tourism like Sri Lanka. Somehow saving one’s life was the priority.
Out of this scenario, leaving behind a bad dream but not the thought and readiness to confront such an eventuality again, today Sunday will see the congregation of a large focused group of business leaders, mayors, governments and delegates from diverse regions across the world, at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore, to attend the 8th Edition of World Cities Summit (WCS). This will be a four days event from 31 July – 3 August 2022.

Sands Expo & Convention Centre.

The theme of WCS 2022 is “Livable and Sustainable Cities: Emerging Stronger”.
The Summiteers would be discussing issues relating to livable and sustainable cities, exchange integrated urban solutions, present case studies and also create new partnerships, as well as feature the first-ever WCS Smart Cities Workshop. It is a global biennial conference hosted by Singapore and is jointly organised by Singapore’s Centre for Livable Cities and the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Strategic partners include the World Bank and several UN agencies including UNESCAP.
Corroborated by the World Health Organization, almost 91% of the world’s population is living in areas where air quality exceeds guideline standards and this has a negative effect on both human health and the environment. A solution is a new generation of bus shelters with moss-covered roofs, which is helping improve the quality of air for passengers and provide a natural cooling system and has become an effective solution to urban heat islands in many parts of the world.
Similarly, Intelligent data driven traffic management solutions have become not just essential tools for transportation authorities, they are also crucial to reducing congestion, and reshaping the ways that safer cities are planned and developed.
Over the next few decades, the number of buildings in the world is expected to double. Urban experts and thought leaders are concerned about the massive construction boom and its environmental impact. It remains to be debated how accurate carbon data will reduce the environmental effects and balance with sustainability.
5th June was World Environment Day, 8th June was World Ocean Day. From raising awareness and encouraging action on the climate crisis to revitalising the ocean and managing human activities on it sustainably, the idea will be discussed in the Plenary session titled “Livable and Sustainable Cities: Combating the Climate Crisis.”
The earlier virtual summit in October 2021 brought such similar interactions as an evolutionary process of redefining the priorities and agendas, for making cities more livable and hospitable for the inhabitants.
Thus, while discussing that Global cities need equity, Climate action, and focus on Citizens.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham had stressed that the vulnerabilities of the low-income should concern everyone “Inequality mattered before the pandemic, but I think the pandemic has brought home why it really matters. It’s clearly difficult for people in the position where they don’t have secure employment, to protect their own health. But that also affects the health of everybody else.”
Mr. Ngatcha Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of International Affairs and the Francophonie remarked “Cities are strong when they learn from each other and ensure good practices.” He cited examples of Paris’ actions towards a green recovery, which was the construction of hundreds of new bicycle links, planting of 170,000 trees, and refurbishing of 5000 housing units to reduce poverty and improve access to cleaner heating solutions.
The Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal who was invited by the hosts to attend the summit, was to present the case of the capital city and its improved governments chool education system, which means a lot for its huge population.
Pak Sandiaga Uno, Minister of Tourism and creative economy, Indonesia believes that “Tourists in the post-pandemic era will have much higher expectations, in terms of cleanliness, health, safety, and environmental sustainability. A lot of young millennials who travel to Bali want to engage in tourism activities that offset the carbon that they used to get to Bali.” According to him tourist destinations will need to accommodate rising green demands from the public, and prioritize the well-being of their tourists and citizens.
Mayor Burnham had also observed that the average work week now looks different given the mix of remote and in-person work, thus necessitating a rethinking of space. One lesson from the Covid pandemic is the pressing question of how to build cities that help residents not just to live, but helps to engage as healthy and happy individuals. City and industry leaders are thus likely to express their confidence in prioritising people-centric, nature-based, and flexible cross-disciplinary approaches for planning cities.
Coming to the happiness quotient and not forgetting Thimpu the capital city of Bhutan, Professor Lam Khee Poh, Dean of NUS School of Design and Environment in Singapore, has opined “Happy people tend to be healthier people due to lifestyle choices. A healthy city must therefore create inspiring and enabling physical and social environments to support such choices. So, the focus must be on the people that cities are built to accommodate and serve.”
Brian Yang, Partner & Architect at Bjarke Ingels Group of New York and Copenhagen, feels that we must reconsider how social connections are formed and strengthened during a time of disruption. During Copenhagen’s lockdown, bakeries, plazas, and parks became important spaces that allowed residents to still feel connected to each other. He supports the importance of community-centric design, highlighting the 8 House, an experiment in extending the life of the street into buildings, while creating a “unique sense of community and intimacy, but with the density and programming of an urban perimeter block”.
Prof Lam Khee Poh (Dean School of Design &Environment National University of Singapore) believes asking his students to navigate Singapore’s housing blocks with wheelchairs, as part of his experiential learning pedagogy: “Once they do that, they never forget!”
Thinking of livable cities, the idea also comes of encouraging flexible cross-disciplinary approaches to development. Limited resources can thus be maximised, and old infrastructure can be repurposed. Cities ultimately need to be climate change resilient.