Tackling inequality, cutting carbon emissions: 5 key issues from World Cities Summit

SINGAPORE – More than 2,500 mayors and city leaders, senior government officials, industry experts and trade visitors attended the World Cities Summit 2022 last week to discuss challenges that cities face and how to address them.

Held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre from July 31 to Aug 2, this year’s edition was themed Liveable And Sustainable Cities: Emerging Stronger.

The biennial summit was started by Singapore’s Centre for Liveable Cities in 2008 for city leaders to share urban solutions and best practices.

In an interview with The Straits Times, Minister of State for National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said key discussion topics at the summit have shifted significantly over the years.

“Around 10 to 15 years ago, we were talking about urban design and urban form. Today, terms like climate change and decarbonisation are increasingly common, which shows that we are on the right path,” said Associate Professor Faishal.

“While each city has its own strengths and weaknesses, exchanging of broad ideas at summits is important as you can bring them back and contextualise application in your own city,” he added.

One common thread expressed by leaders was the pressing need to engage the people to understand their aspirations for their future city, he said.

ST looks at five key issues discussed during the summit.

1. Role of cities in post-pandemic world

As remote work becomes more prevalent, are cities still relevant? How can cities remain vibrant and attractive?

These were questions posed to five panellists at a discussion titled What Does The Future Hold For Cities.

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Mr Josef Hargrave, global leader of foresight at professional services firm Arup, said that while many cities are bouncing back from the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been shifts in social engagement and consumption patterns among people.

Thursday, for instance, is the new Friday as people tend to work from home on Fridays, he said. This, in turn, impacts the entertainment and food and beverage industries, which are seeing much more activity on Thursdays than previously.

“These small shifts are interesting as they impact the structure and functions of a city,” he said, noting that local shops and neighbourhoods have become just as, if not more, important than traditional Central Business Districts during the pandemic.